PIDP reflections

Waterfront watercolour 2009

It seems appropriate to include my watercolour painting of a body of water and a shoreline when talking about “reflections”.  This is a small post card sized image that was an “out of my head” painting.  I visualized the scene and with a few brush strokes and limited palette created the waterfront image.  One of the final tasks I have in my course work for the PIDP course “Professional Practice” is to complete a reflective entry on my blog. I have taken the suggested questions provided as prompts as a foundation for my discussion below.

What is the most important thing you have learned?

Learning has been achieved on multiple levels.  I have learned practical tools and techniques in teaching including evaluation strategies, effective interaction with students, self awareness, and last but not least how to leverage the tools at our disposal to create digital products that can be used to teach and explain a concept or process.   The use of the blog as a tool, both to build skills sets in a web based environment but more importantly to drive research and review work — indeed developing and maintaining a blog was extremely useful.  My hesitation with the initial blog work was quickly eclipsed by the practical use a blog can have when you are developing and communicating information about a subject to a broad audience.  So, I learned practical things that I can use in the future, and experienced personal insight as I worked through the course material.

How has your thinking changed?

My thinking has been blessed with more self awareness.  What do I mean by that statement?  I feel like I have a deeper understanding of both the responsibility and opportunity that rests with a person responsible for instructing or training another individual.  Yes, individual–that is the key.  Everyone has their own individual perspective and motivation, and as an instructor or trainer this course work helps me to be better positioned to tap into those unique elements in each trainee or student.  Every day is a learning opportunity, for myself and those I encounter.

What actions will you take based on what you have learned?

I will continue to learn more about learning and teaching — and about myself.  It is that simple.  I continue to work towards completion of this program and appreciate the support and guidance provided by our VCC as we navigate this path.  Thank you Karen!


Evaluations and Salve for the Wound

white lion cubs wet canvas photo 22612

An image of two white lion cubs.  The cubs are communicating with each other, both sending and receiving feedback.  I show this photograph, which was a source image from the “Wet Canvas” image library, first to show the model I was working from to develop the painting below…..

lion cubs 2 wip crop.jpg

Now, here is the work in progress….as the layout and development of the painting progressed.  There is a note of comforting caring and sharing in the image….

lion cubs in frame 2

Then the final product. Much changed from the work in progress above, and developed after many hours of trial, error, and looking at the developing painting from different perspectives, lighting and finally in a frame. This is my interpretation of the original photograph.

What does this have to do with my title “Salve on the Wound”?

There are many ways a message can be delivered and many ways it may be received.  In order to coach and improve student performance the instructor feedback must be respectful and a meaningful message needs to be conveyed to the student.  I am not looking at “softening the blow” of observations that point to less than optimal performance, rather I am appreciative of a focused approach that provides supportive and useful commentary to a student that can spark them towards improvement in their work.

In Chapter 10 of “The Skillful Teacher” (2nd edition, Brookfield, S, 2006), Brookfield opens with …”Evaluating students’ learning is when the power relationship inherent in teaching becomes public and undeniable.” (Brookfield, 2006).  The instructor or teacher is the leader of the pack, the guide for the group.  Furthermore, their judgement and communication of acceptance or rejection of a student’s performance has broad reaching implications. The evaluation of the teacher involves more than just the student teacher relationship, but is branches out and also impacts the esteem within which the student’s peer group views a fellow student — as a high performer, teacher’s pet, inept slouch or just average, middle of the pack…..the students look to each other for feedback as well — and the instructor, much like a conductor of an orchestra can bring positive or negative attention to a player.  The magic in the evaluation is that the feedback is helpful not harmful.

Brookfield provides examples of helpful evaluations that incorporate these key characteristics:

  1. Clarity – be clear, let students know what they are being measured against.
  2. Immediacy – timing is important and allows the student to focus on the areas where improvement and success are noted.
  3. Regularity – they need to hear from you, not just at the end of the program or course.
  4. Accessibility – make your feedback understandable, and be available to discuss to ensure they have a full understanding of your evaluation — and can respond.
  5. Individualized – provide some detail specific to the student.
  6. Affirming – acknowledge effort.
  7. Future-oriented – provide a beacon to follow through clear suggestions that support positive growth and development.
  8. Justifiable – tell them why.  Relate it to the long term interests and bigger picture of their learning.
  9. Educative – consider what the student will take away and use from the instructor’s comments.  The point is……give them something they can learn from.  Make it useful not shaming.

Finally, the magic demonstrated in the video link below is more than sleight of hand, it is the magic of discovering the value of perspective.  Your perspective and your student’s perspective.  Brian Miller sums it up in his Tedx talk through one sentence.  “Our world is a shared experience fractured by individual perspectives”.
Tedx Manchester High School 2015

MILLER, B. June 17, 2015, How to Magically Connect with Anyone,  Tedx Manchester High School, Retrieved from Internet March 20, 2016,

Wet Canvas Image, Retrieved from internet March 20, 2016:


Lifelong Learning

horse watersoluble graphite 2Lifelong learning is a key part of my life.  I have retired from one career, started another in my mid 50’s, am continuing to work towards certification in my current occupation and as a sideline, am taking the Provincial Instructor Diploma Program.  Instructing adults was a life long interest for me and I continue to enjoy the course work in the program.  With the demographic “bubble” of baby boomers reaching senior years, society needs to step up to the learning needs of the senior adult learner.  In some cases the ability to audit courses, or have reduced tuition costs may be available.  I think if you stop learning you stop growing, and if you stop growing you are on the path to declining health both mentally and physically.  I completed the horse pencil drawing on this posting a couple of years ago when I picked up art as a old/new endeavour.  This drawing came out of a “how to draw horses” workshop I attended — the workshop inspired me to continue to work with water soluble graphite and voila – a profile sketch of a horse…..

Have a look at this link to a Kiplinger article on Life long learning and retirees returning to school.  It is a sign of the times……our educational institutions need to be positioning for this trend.

Kiplinger – Retirees Returning to College

Digital Assignment “The Muddiest Point”


Presentation link: The Muddiest Point

For Assignment 5, 3260 Professional Practice, I needed to master a digital presentation tool to complete the work.  That was an educational process on it’s own given my limited exposure to video software products.  I was fortunate to have Adobe Essentials 11 on my laptop, so that provided me with a tool to use — but it certainly was a time consuming, AND interesting endeavour.  Here is a link to the video.


And for some interesting video’s where instructors are reading general feedback from students….have a look at this from Harvard University. The Ivy League has it’s challenges too….

Harvard Professors feedback


Ethics, Risk and Social Media in Education

alert squirrelThis little fellow is on the alert. 

Watching and listening, attentive to any risks or issues that present a threat. 

Technology…..  Cyberspace…..  Risk….. Professional Practice in the digital age.

What are the ethical considerations when using social media in Education?

What are the privacy and conflict of interest risks that present themselves when a public, accessible venue is used for sharing information between student and teacher?

Current media is rife with reports of inappropriate behaviour in cyberspace — more recently being deemed criminal with the introduction of legislation to stem cyber bullying.  A recent US News article states “Beyond the threat of inappropriate relationships, some experts believe developing these connections on social media will tarnish a teacher’s authority in the classroom. Iris Fanning, a family-counseling provider with more than 20 years of experience for school districts in Albuquerque, N.M., says major concerns arise when students begin to see teachers as peers”.  This article does not focus on adult educators, however there are parallels particularly considering the authority an instructor needs to retain and the power dynamic that continues to exist between a teacher and student regardless of their respective age.

What are the liability issues that educational institutions expose themselves to when they use social media tools in the educational process?

All interesting and thought provoking questions.  As part of my work on PIDP 3260 we are required to develop a blog.  Good practice given this is the age of electronic communication.

I wonder, as part of the requirement in the course delivery if a disclaimer should be required for the blog owner to indicate “all entries are the responsibility of the author”…or something like that, with all due respect to anything already covered by creative commons.

Whether it be Facebook, Twitter, or texting by telephone — channels exist that require sober second thought by the end users.  This is particularly critical where misinterpretation of communication can occur and professional distance is required.

If what you post is not suitable for tomorrow`s headlines — or in the case of the student-teacher relationship — outside the boundary of acceptable professional communication and practice — then ethical issues arise, let alone the potential for liability which can be significant.  In this brave new era, where we are only recently enacting legislation to deal with cyber bullies, how much legislation really protects both the schools and the teachers (let alone the students) in cyber space?  Yes, schools may have established codes of conduct and these policies may be handed out as part of a package of material when new instructors are hired.  But, I pose the question —  how often are the “rules of engagement” reviewed, and refreshed commitments made between the educational institution and the instructor regarding ethical behaviour and use of social media channels?  Are the ethical standards reviewed along side current legislation?

Other jurisdictions have developed workshops and staff training events to tackle the issues of ethical and professional dilemmas.  One example is the workshop developed by the Conneticut Teachers Education and Mentoring Program.  They acknowledge “educators must develop a keen awareness and sensitivity to a variety of dilemmas and circumstances they may encounter in their daily contact with students, families and the community. It is vital that educators make conscious ethical decisions to ensure that their professional practice meets the highest possible ethical standards of conduct and responsibility”.  Their facilitators guide includes training scenarios involving social media.

On the flip side of the social media coin, this link takes you to a best practices summary for use of Twitter.  Should Twitter be promoted as an educational tool?

In Section 5 of the Okanagan College Social Media Policy it states:


The College expects that:

a) employees will exercise discretion, thoughtfulness and respect for colleagues,
associates, students and the College community when using social media; and
b) employees be mindful that all posted content on social media may be subject to
review in accordance with the College’s policies.


Employees may be subject to discipline for conduct on social media relating to their Employment, the College or other employees, which violates College policies while using social media sites.”

Is this enough? How do we ensure ongoing policies and standards are robust enough to provide the guidance and level of protection needed in an education environment where there is a power imbalance (teacher vs. student)?  Traditional dynamics experienced in an education setting are exacerbated by the ballooning use of cyberspace for all aspects of our social engagement (work, home, school, entertainment).  Just makes me wonder when there will be a remake of the 60’s classic “To Sir With Love”….including twitter and Facebook in the classroom.  Yes, there was “To Sir with Love 2” set in 1996 – but the digital revolution was just starting to evolve…….



Connecticut Teachers and Educators Mentoring Program, Facilitator’s Guide – Understanding the Code of Professional Responsibility for Educators (January 2012)  retrieved February 21, 2016 from

Educase Review, Tweeting in Higher Education: Best Practices, Amy L. Chapman, September 14, 2015 retrieved February 21, 2016 from

IMDB “To Sir with Love” (1967) retrieved February 21, 2016 from

Clavell, J., Sloan, J. R., Woollard, T., Whittaker, I., Wilson-Apperson, J., Carpenter, J., & Glasow, B. (Producers), Clavell, J., Grainer, R., Martell, P., Beeson, P., Thornton, P., Campo, D. D., . . . Karnon, T. (Writers), & Clavell, J. (Director). (1967). To sir with love [Motion picture]. United States: Columbia Pictures Corp. presents.

Okanagan College, Okanagan College Code of Ethical Practices and Policy (November 6, 2014) retrieved February 21, 2016 from

Okanagan College, Okanagan College Social Media Policy (January 7, 2016) retrieved February 21, 2016 from

US News, Student-Teacher Social Media Restrictions Get Mixed Reactions By Ryan Lytle Aug. 10, 2011 retrieved February 21, 2016 from






Responding to Resistance – is there a magic key?

The picture above is the face of an aircraft instrument designed to inform the pilot about the status of the aircraft in flight.  For instance, when the aircraft banks or turns towards the left, the needle moves towards the “L”.  When the needle and ball are centered as in this picture there is no change, just level flight continuing at the established heading or direction the pilot has pointed the aircraft towards.  It provides no information about altitude or compass direction.  The aircraft may be losing altitude, but this instrument does not inform you about altitude.

What does this have to do with education and resistant learners?  It is an image that speaks to a student being stuck on one path, not being resilient and not being open to learning new things because they are afraid of making a change.  And learning is change. They may be afraid to turn left, or right and get stuck within the constraints of their self image (the person they believe they are), cultural influences, how they fit into their family and social schema and the fear of moving away from the comfort of this established identity.

To be successful as a self directed learner, managing the overwhelming influence that fear brings to the table is critical.  Fear erodes intrinsic motivators that can support a student to achieve a positive outcome and complete a course or program.   Fear is identified as a factor manifesting as resistance to learning in the classroom.

In Brookfield’s “The Skillful Teacher”, 2nd ed., he explores the issue of resistant learners in the classroom. Some of his observations include:

  • Fear of change
  • Student self-image as a learner (and achiever – or not)
  • Practical use of the subject matter (does it make sense, is it grounded in reality)
  • Self-consciousness
  • Personal student cultural norms and their impact
  • Internal conflict related to personal values and education
  • Need for clarity in instruction
  • Internal commitment
  • Freedom to choose – to be engaged or not to be engaged

My list is not comprehensive, but covers the areas that resonated for me. Of these, I think the element of internal commitment is the most critical. This also speaks to the concept of intrinsic motivation.

Intrinsic motivation is defined as occurring “when we act without any obvious external rewards. We simply enjoy an activity or see it as an opportunity to explore, learn, and actualize our potentials.” (Coon & Mitterer, 2010)” Cherry 2015. It is related to the feelings inside an individual that makes a particular action or achievement desirable.

I think many of us are familiar with the concept of extrinsic motivation — those external influences that compel us to take a particular action or work to achieve a goal. An external motivator may be a paycheque, which positions you to pay your bills or conversely a loss i.e. if I don’t work and earn money, I won’t be able to pay for my rent.

In the context of education, extrinsic motivators such as achieving a professional certification at the end of a program are important drivers. However, I believe an individual also needs to possess the quality of persistence to achieve the goal and strong persistence is fired by intrinsic motivators.

Extrinsic and intrinsic motivators affect us across our daily lives. As educators, an awareness and understanding of the role that intrinsic motivation plays in the student experience can help to shift the resistant learner to become an engaged and motivated learner.

I believe there are two important elements that impact intrinsic motivation:

  • Fear
  • Beliefs

In “The Skillful Teacher” 2nd edition, 2006, Brookfield speaks about the impact of education, and says that the learning experience is really about change. Exposure to new ideas and change brings up emotions of fear for a variety of reasons. “The basis of resistance to learning is the fear of change. Learning by definition involves change.” (p214). He also observes, “fear of looking foolish in public” (p221), “betrayal of solid, unpretentious working-class values” (p222), and “if they go past a certain point they will commit cultural suicide” (p223).

What does this mean for a teacher or trainer? My take away from the review of resistance to learning draws me back to personal beliefs that may be held by a student.  If they believe they “can”, they are right – and – if they believe they “cannot” they are also right.  The theory is whatever ever you believe, it is true, because it is what you believe.   Furthermore, the emotion of fear can cast a cloud of doubt that seems to validate your beliefs and further reinforces the individual’s self-concept wherein they believe in their ability to achieve something or acquire a new skill (or not).

A teacher who is sensitive to the emotional dynamics that run rampant in a classroom or learning environment is better positioned to effectively respond to the manifestation of fear and associated resistance to learning. “Fear” wears the cloak of resistance and can fool both student and teacher. Create a safe learning environment, be aware of cultural nuances, and establish the fundamental “cultural norms” for the classroom or learning venue at the beginning. Establish a covenant with the class that is documented and agreed to in the classroom.  Identify classroom cultural norms/acceptable behaviour and foster a respectful environment.  It will spark learning.  This was a key nugget I took away from an earlier course in the PIDP program from Instructor David Tickner. By setting the tone, agreeing as a group on acceptable conduct and reinforcing the boundaries if things were getting out of hand, David supported the class and modelled the kind of behaviour in classroom management that resonates for me today. It was one way he helped the group to develop a learning cocoon to evaporate resistance in the classroom.  It was a safe place and taking the risk to learn was ok.

For other reading on the impact of fear you may be interested in the work of Susan Jeffers, Ph.D and her description of the Five Fears at this link:



Brookfield, S. (2006). The Skillful Teacher: On Technique, Trust and Responsiveness in the Classroom (2nd Ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Retrieved February 21, 2016 from By Kendra Cherry Updated December 08, 2015.

Retrieved February 21, 2016 from

Tell me what you want, what you really, really, want


I am thoroughly enjoying “The Skillful Teacher”.  I have seen mixed reviews from other students, but I have to say, there isn’t a chapter yet that doesn’t have some nugget that resonates for me.  This week I am working on the the Feedback Instrument Document and the exercise has been useful.  This ties into my blog title with a nod to the Spice Girls and “Wannabe” this week.

Most of my instructional experience is specific to workshops or courses offered to employees, or focus groups intended to gather information.  Although evaluations immediately post training are important for the instructor to use for future development and evolution of a course, in a corporate environment evaluations also have an important place in understanding the kind of training to offer staff and the channel or venue used to deliver training.  On top of “what channel” to use is the element of diversity in the classroom which mirrors diversity in the workplace.

If we don’t ask we will not know, and it is dangerous to second guess what people want and need to move forward either in their career or education.

For myself right now, I am not positioned to facilitate workshops or courses for staff.  I have some involvement in staff training but not to the extent I had earlier in my career.  In previous work, staff training and development was the area of my work that I found the most satisfying.  I like seeing people grow and develop and support them in achieving their goals.  I hope to continue with my own “adult-ed”, and at some point in the future use the skills I am acquiring in the PIDP to facilitate personal development workshops for people entering the workforce, or returning after a sabatical such as raising a family.

So, when developing an assessment document (to quote the Spice Girls), we really, really, want to know what our students need to improve the educational environment and enrich the student experience.  A well designed document can do just that.

And just for trivia fans out there this link takes you to an evaluation of the catchiest tunes with “Wannabe” topping the list …

Song lyric credit to:


Published by
Lyrics © EMI Music Publishing, Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Universal Music Publishing Group

Video link:

Read more: Spice Girls – Wanna Be Lyrics | MetroLyrics