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Lecturing Creatively

Throughout my education degree, the word ‘lecture’ has been like a dirty word. Presenting lessons that are more ‘interactive’ with students taking a more hands on role in their learning. Reading Brookfield’s chapter “Lecturing Creatively” in The Skillful Teacher I learned that deliberately introducing periods of silence, having students work in buzz groups, lecturing from different positions around the room, and breaking the lecture into 10-15 minute chunks can be interactive and support student learning just as well as hands on learning when used correctly. As there are sections of the classes that I teach that require to be presented in lecture in order to avoid confusion of the heavier material, I found this comforting and look forward to working on breaking these lessons into chunks and presenting more pointed questions more frequently and allowing for periods of silence during these times to engage those students who benefit from more think time.

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

Professional Ethics

Ethics has been a point of discussion within all PIDP courses. Although some courses focus on this topic in more depth than in others, I think it’s great that there is such an emphasis on professional behaviour within the classroom. As the director of a centre and as a teacher of all ages, it is a major concern that students and families be treated respectfully and that confidentiality be of consideration at all times.
I have fortunately not had to worry about this within my work place to any extent so far, but am always aware of the ramifications unprofessional behaviours and/or decisions might have on the individual and the business.
When looking for incidences of unethical behaviours in the media, I found it difficult to find many examples. Are there not many cases of unethical/unprofessional behaviours, or have they been successfully kept out of the media.

Responding to Resistance

I appreciated Brookfield’s feelings of inadequacies due to students’ resistance to learning within the classroom. It was refreshing to hear another teacher reflect on how they feel when students sit in the classroom clearly uninterested in being engaged. Although this may be due to ineffective teaching, at times no matter what you do to draw them in so that they will better understand the material, the student chooses not to become involved. Brookfield relays that this may be due to their poor self-image as a learner, fear of the unknown , normal rhythm of learning, disjunction of learning and teaching styles, apparent irrelevance of the learning activity, inappropriate level of learning, fear of looking foolish in public, and fear of cultural suicide. Within my classes, I have seen each of these students; some of whom have become more involved once supported, while others have not. As Brookfield notes, although this may be frustrating, if you have done all you can to engage them then they are adults and it is up to them to move past their issues; and if they cannot then there is nothing you can do.

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

Teaching in Diverse Classrooms

Classrooms today often have a wide mix of students with different educational backgrounds, learning styles, and teaching style preferences. I often experience this within the courses I teach, especially within the foundations course which is a prerequisite to subsequent courses. This can often lead to much frustration as the teacher tries to cater to all students’ preferences. Brookfield notes however, that although no teacher will be able to satisfy every student all the time, there are a few ways that the teacher can engage a diverse population of learners. He suggests team teaching, mixing student groups, and mixing modalities as ways to support a vast majority of your learners. I have been lucky to be able to work with a fantastic co-teacher in many situations and have had comments from students noting that they had appreciated being able to see the material presented in slightly different ways, but have also had students who preferred one of our teaching styles better and wished that person had taught the whole course. Group work can be somewhat fickle, trying to make sure that all parties are able to cooperate and hopefully split the work fairly; some students are fans of group work, whereas others would prefer to complete the work themselves. Although I try to present all material visually, auditorily, and kinesthetically, there are times when the presentation focuses more on one modality than another. As with all issues within the classroom, this does not please everyone all the time. I am however, hopeful that in most instances my efforts are appreciated and supports my students’ learning.

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

Professional Vision

Currently the director of Centre that uses Orton-Gillingham to support individuals with learning disabilities to learn to read, write, and spell, I have currently been certified as a trainer as well. Over the past few years I have been mentored by my director and was encouraged by her to complete the PIDP. Although I have a Bachelor of Education and have past experience lesson planning and developing courses, I have found the focus on pedagogy most beneficial.
I am now completing the last 2 PIDP courses and then look forward to completing the capstone project within the next year. I have already made many modifications to my teaching practice, and plan to work on adding a few more media aspects, perhaps Facebook, podcasts, and a blog, to the courses I teach.
At this time, I also sit on the CATT board, a non-profit certification board for Orton-Gillingham practitioners. I would like to look at also using some of these media aspects to support our members.
As I am on maternity leave at the moment, and completing these last 2 PIDP courses is encompassing most of my ‘free time’, I have not yet looked into future conferences to attend. I know that I will attend the professional development day we offer to our members in the Spring, and would like to attend the annual International Dyslexia Association next Fall, perhaps presenting as I did last Fall in San Diego.
Within the next five years, I would really like to see our courses being offered to more Canadian locations. We currently train mostly within the lower mainland, but in the past few years have also been to Whistler and the Okanagan. I would like to be able to provide training not only to more places within B.C., but also to other provinces. I know that my director is currently working on running a course in Manitoba this summer, so hopefully this starts spreading awareness of the approach and we will be asked back. As this course is being held at a University, if things go well, we might be able to network with Universities in more provinces as well. I hope that some of the social media projects I envision will help as well.

Teachers Need Real Feedback

In the Ted Talk, `Teachers Need Real Feedback`, Bill Gates exposes the inadequacies of the feedback that most teachers receive; noting that most teachers are usually only presented with one word, `satisfactory`, which does nothing to enable them in improving their teaching, classes, or courses. Although he focuses on the failing scores of the U.S., he also looks at how countries such as Shanghai support their teachers to make sure they succeed in providing best services to their students. Teachers here are presented with opportunities to observe master teachers, have weekly meetings, and require them to observe and provide feedback to their colleagues. He also discusses a project called `Measures of Effective Teaching`where teachers record and observe their lessons, and are provided with more in-depth feedback from their students. Having completed this practice similarly in Delivery of Instruction (PIDP 3220) I agree that this can be a very rewarding experience to help the instructor reflect on their teaching and see what they are doing well, and how they can improve. This was a great video and I would recommend it to all teachers for their consideration in how to provide the best instruction.

Core Assumptions

Brookfield discusses three core assumptions in chapter two of `The Skillful Teacher`. He believes these to be, that a skillful teacher will do anything it takes to help a student learn, that we must be critical in reflecting on our practice, and that we must also be aware of our students`learning experiences, as well as their perception of the teacher. I too believe that these three habits are displayed by professionals as they assess their classrooms, reflect, and adapt as needed.

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

Mark McGregor

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