So far I have completed three courses in PIDP, am now coming to the end of my fourth, and beginning my fifth course in five days. I have derived such rich learning from each course. Each course builds on the other, yielding a more integrated and holistic approach to teaching. If I look at the ‘Teaching as Inquiry’ cyclical diagram below I note that these four courses have developed each step of the cycle so that I am a well rounded teacher. I will look at each PIDP course separately and how they have developed my teaching .
Image: Ministry of Education. (2017). Teaching as inquiry. Retrieved from http://englishonline.tki.org.nz/English-Online/Teaching-as-inquiry
PIDP 3100 (Foundations of Adult Education) focused on the theory of adult education. I utilize these theories continuously and find myself building on my foundational knowledge of these theories through my practical application as a teacher. For example I find myself revisiting transformative learning theories on a regular basis. I draw from my knowledge of andragogy continuously to ensure I am meeting the seven principles on a regular basis with my college students. The learning I take forward from PIDP 3100 helps to inform the Teaching Inquiry step of the cycle where I pose “what do I need to know and do?” Here I mobilize my theoretical knowledge of teaching and learning to best teach my students.
I also developed more confidence as a student. Having not been a student for greater 14 years, since nursing school. It was quite a learning experience stepping into the shoes of the student again. It helped me remember what it was like to be a student and learn some important things to incorporate into my own teaching to improve the learning experience. I also became more confident in my writing skills. I read a couple How-To-Write books, and worked hard to improve my writing. It paid off in dividends because my writing developed well during that course and ever since. This helped me become more articulate with my thoughts and feel more capable as a writer.
PIDP 3220 (Delivery of Instruction): This course develops many areas of this cyclical diagram, including the practical application/implementation part of teaching (Teaching and Learning step) and the planning phases of teaching, Focusing Inquiry step. I felt I learned a lot about myself as a teacher in this course. The practical nature of the course, I feel, increases the vulnerability one feels as a student. I took this course at the College that I teach at (called Instructional Skills Workshop, or ISW). Teaching my colleagues was nerve wracking but exciting. I built wonderful collegial relationships and learned immensely from the feedback I received from my peers and facilitator. I think the face to face nature, allowed me to feel like I was really seen as an individual, hence the greater degree of feeling vulnerable, but yet the greatest personal growth as well. I tend to learn better in a social environment, where I can talk through ideas, questions and voice my thoughts. This process of working through material is how I learn best.
I also developed more confidence as an instructor, as I received a lot of positive feedback on my teaching. I learned my strengths, which has helped me learn to draw from and further develop these strengths. A lot of the students in the class were fairly new to teaching, so with having five years of teaching experience and one PIDP course under my belt, I felt I brought a lot to the table in discussions. Having this foundational knowledge helped make this a very rich learning experience. I was so inspired by this course that I am hoping to one day, soon, become an ISW facilitator.
I learned during this course that I struggle with time management in my teaching. I have since done a lot of reflection on this and have learned that I ‘lose time’ teaching because I so love to dive into discussion. Sometimes this it is a digression but I love to take advantage of those rich incidental learning opportunities. This also is in line with who I am as a person and who I am as a teacher. I want to encourage people’s voices and a dialogue with my students. That is the part of teaching I love so deeply. I am learning that I have to modify my lessons to prioritize quality over quantity and to have more harmony with my personal and professional values. This can be difficult in a program that is becoming more focused on quantity (i.e. content) rather than concepts (i.e. quality). I will have to continually adjust to find a happy midway point so that I fulfill my obligations as a teacher in my program, yet teach in a way that is authentic.
PIDP 3250 (Instructional Strategies) This course focused on the Teaching and Learning step of the cycle. I loved this course because it is was so relevant to me and practical. I could take what I was learning and apply it the following day to my teaching and see the wonderful results it produced. I love adding to the tools I have in my teaching toolbox. It wasn’t just acquiring new tools but learning how to use old tools in new innovative and engaging ways. For example, discussion has been a learning strategy for thousands of years, dating back to Socrates, but I learned new ways to increase the motivation and engagement during discussions. I constantly find myself going back to my Student Engagement Techniques textbook by E. Barkley to diversify my teaching strategies. I like to keep it fresh as a teacher and keep myself challenged and interested. I think the students appreciate variety and it promotes the individual learning needs of students by addressing Gardner’s stated eight different intelligences (as cited in Phillips & Vaughn, 2009).
PIDP 3260 (Professional Practice) hits on 3 of these 4 steps in the Teaching as Inquiry cycle. This course has reiterated to me the importance of continuously reflecting on my teaching (the Teaching Inquiry step). As a nurse, critical reflection was a highly developed skill in my nursing program. I use it in my personal life as well. I have used reflection to some degree in my teaching, but it has reinforced the need to make the reflective process more deliberate. As a result, I plan to create a more formal way to integrate reflection into my practice as a teacher to develop myself professionally. For example I would love to create a Nursing Educator Community of Practice, so that I have a venue to reflect with my peers, develop my practice and learn from their experience as well. I plan to create a journal for reflection that includes my ideas, thoughts, pictures and art. This would be a place where I can get what is in my head, heart and hands, out. I would also like to invite a peer to observe my class and give me feedback on my teaching so that I can grow.
My other greatest learning in this class is the importance of evaluating continuously how students are experiencing my teaching (the Learning Inquiry step). This goes hand in hand with personal critical reflection, but this I believe, drives the boat for reflection. Obtaining accurate and timely feedback about how the learning process is unfolding will allow me to tailor my teaching to meet the students’ needs (Focusing Inquiry step), rather than teaching blindly in hopes of hitting the intended target. I plan to utilize a diverse set of Classroom Assessment techniques each and every class. I love the idea of using CIQs (Classroom Incident Questionnaires) on a regular basis to keep a pulse on what is going on in my classroom (Brookfield, 2015). I also intend to use CIQs out in the practical environment when teaching nursing practice in the hospital. The use of weekly assessment tools seems logical and now, after taking this course, quite obvious. It is funny how when you learn something you can almost not remember not knowing it, because it is so engrained, as though it has been a part of you forever. On a neuroscience level, that neural pathway is so strong, a person cannot remember not having it. It is like walking, we don’t remember what it was like to not be able to walk, because that neural pathway is so deeply rooted. Learning is fascinating, both as a teacher and as a student.
I volunteered at my son’s elementary school today for a math fair. It was so interesting to watch each student interface with the different math problems. Some students strengths were: in the deductions and observations they made, in how creative they solved a problem, and in how caring, supportive or helpful they were with their peers. I am always so amazed at the brilliance of children, their cloak of inhibitions unrobed so that their strengths and true nature shines through brightly. By the time adult students get to university, often that light is dulled down. A challenge and highlight of teaching for me, is trying to find a way again to help reignite each student’s light so it can shine bright once again.
Brookfield, S.D. (2015). The skillful teacher: On technique, trust and responsiveness in the classroom (3rd ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Ministry of Education. (2017). Teaching as inquiry. Retrieved from http://englishonline.tki.org.nz/English-Online/Teaching-as-inquiry
Phillips, R., & Vaughn, L. M. (2009). Diverse ways of knowing and learning: The impact of culture. The Open Medical Education Journal, 2, 49-56.