Realistic Job Preview

Posted: November 27, 2015 in Uncategorized

Stephen Brookfield begins his text, “The Skillful Teacher” with a statement that resonates with me. He states “teaching is frequently a gloriously messy pursuit in which shock, contradiction and risk are endemic.” Endemic, meaning it is characteristic and natural of the environment. This reminds the reader that it’s universal in the profession to follow a ‘messy’ pursuit. This statement spins the art of teaching into a paradox of a chaotic circumstance mirrored with the ‘glorious’.


I understand the meaning of what the author is trying to convey. He isn’t trying to paint a negative picture, he is simply putting forward what HR professionals call a Realistic Job Preview (RJP). This career choice isn’t for the meek and orderly. It isn’t for those who wish to play it safe, maintain the status quo or stick to a script. It isn’t for those who are easily offended or frustrated by a bit of chaos. Ultimately, he wants to put forward how exciting and challenging this profession can be. In this simple statement, he articulates the value in the profession. He almost challenges the reader to consider that this is the way things can be, no matter the circumstance, environment, subject or instructor.

As instructors, its safe to say that anything done right will not happen without a little chaos. If we weren’t up for the risk, contradiction, shock or mess of it all, we wouldn’t get to experience the gloriousness either.


Post Secondary Sensitivity

Posted: November 25, 2015 in Uncategorized

Universities are under the microscope these days. You cant open the newspaper without reading about demands for resignations,  sexual abuse allegations, freedom of speech being violated, and more recently: costume parties and yoga.

These newsworthy stories bring to light if student activism is really directed to the right topics. Of course sexual abuse allegations and racism need to be addressed. However, is the cultural appropriation of YOGA seriously a hot button issue?

I love Neil Macdonald’s views:

The ferocity of those who wander the halls of the academy, demanding resignations and re-education of others (never of themselves), and the shutdown of programs and discussion of their distress, seems limitless.

You can only wonder how accommodating it prepares students for the offensive, noisy, pitiless world they’re about to enter.

Instructors need to channel this passion and fire into something worthy of post-secondary attention. That is, good old fashion debate and discourse. Taking it to the level of protesting the existence of established things (be it programs, social events or someone’s livelihood!) is not what the student experience is meant to be.

Grads aren’t good enough

Posted: November 25, 2015 in Uncategorized

The CIBC CEO, Victor Dodig has stated what we already know… there are gaps in our STEM (Science, Technology, Engingeering & Mathematics) training in the post-secondary environment. The result is that we run the risk of losing our on innovation, which can fuel our economy.


“We have gaps — we’re not producing the types of skills that industries need,” ….”A lot of people are overeducated and underqualified for the jobs that are needed.”

These quotes are an essential reminder of the instructor’s role in many college classrooms. Our job is to help prepare creative, critical thinkers who are job market ready upon graduation. I agree that we overeducate, but underqualify. Curriculum development needs to take these things into account.

Another consideration is for educators at the elementary and highschool level. Girls need to be driven to STEM careers and not discouraged from these professions. This is a key element to insuring the innovative future of our marketplace.

Advice on managing a classroom

Posted: November 24, 2015 in Uncategorized

Almost 15 years ago, I volunteered my time at a private school in Vancouver, teaching kids drama. Funnily enough, this was the same school our new Prime Minister taught at, but I digress.

I remember getting a lot of advice from other teachers to help me deal with these hyper children. In adult education, gaining advice is still a worthwhile endeavour as you learn better techniques. This chart:  Managing A Classroom  initially resonated with 27 great tips.

It’s a great reminder to listen, learn, lead, engage, demonstrate, communicate. I’m working on watch, observe and ask others.

Upon further consideration, there are a few points here that are better left with elementary school students.

These include:

  • Videotaping the class to discuss the behaviour (I cant think of anything more uncomfortable).
  • A signal for when the class gets off track (What, a whistle like in Kindergarten?)
  • Teach students meditation (Unless you are teaching yoga,leave this one out)

While advice is great, some advice is better to be ignored. After all, this infographic reminds us to say the mantra “YOU are the teacher”.

Let’s play Prezi

Posted: November 23, 2015 in Uncategorized

While reading about Gamification, I came across some great presentations on Prezi. I spent over an hour watching presentations using this medium. Prezi isn’t new, but I did draw a link between how this presentation software acts as a game in many respects.

If you watch this simple prezi on gamification it starts to feel like a very engaging activity. Imagery set to motion, with a ‘level up’ feel as you pass each slide  in order to reach the end. The graphics, the online youtube content and the progression of the learning makes it feel like you are in a simple game.

I had never thought about how we can make presentations like a game. Here are some great templates:

and some great game resources

Funny ha ha?

Posted: November 23, 2015 in Uncategorized

When thinking about effective strategies for engaging learners, it’s interesting to reflect on the role humour plays in the classroom. One author believes this is a key to help even discipline, but warns of the dangers of confusing sarcasm.

Students are not looking for a stand up comedian, but are much more likely to stay engaged when the instructor infuses a little levity and laughs. Not all subjects need to be approached with a serious academic view. I have contemplated using the sitcom “The Office” to illustrate Organizational Behaviour.

One tactic that can be used is poking fun at ourselves and each other in a respectful way. This strategy can connect the students and help relax the environment. An example might be teasing a student for his ring tone if it goes off in class.

There’s the other side of the humour spectrum which includes innocent pranks. Here’s a fun video of an april fool’s prank that left one teacher a little speechless.


Coddled at College?

Posted: November 17, 2015 in Uncategorized

I try my best to be very careful about not offending anyone in the classroom or workplace. Yet, sometimes I am not certain about what constitutes being offensive? If my case studies, lectures or anecdotes trigger a reaction by even one student, that is not my intent.

In the National Post , a straight white male student speaks about his experiences at the University of Victoria. A place where students can’t say “party” or refer to alcohol and receive backlash for showing the cross dressing movie Mrs. Doubtfire. In one example, he shares that a sovereignty conference funding was revoked because the First Nations groups on campus were not consulted to give consent.

In short, my peers are so inclusive that they’ve become exclusive. We’ve become so insulated to offence and harm that the space for critical thinking and the intellectual meeting of minds is occupied increasingly by “safe spaces.”

This leads us to question if Barack Obama is right… should we work to eliminate situations where students are “coddled and protected from different points of view”? Shouldn’t we promote critical thinking and intellectual discourse that can potentially ruffle some feathers? Lets get people talking, even if it causes some uncomfortable moments for the coddled. No offence.