Educational development is a creative, exploratory, and collaborative practice to bring about transformative change in teaching and learning that ultimately enhances the learners’ experience and supports their meaning-making processes. In my various educator capacities, I create and contribute to the framework in which process-driven learning can take place. While the approaches I take depend on a deep understanding of the specific contexts and of the individuals I support, I am guided by the following core principles: empowerment, reciprocity, and inquiry.
Informed by personal experience – the discovery of how entertaining, rewarding, and liberating self-directed learning can be – I firmly believe that real, meaningful learning happens when learners actively cultivate a sense of ownership in their education and that the intrinsic desire to learn is best facilitated in a constructive environment that celebrates effort, supports risk-taking, and invites genuine connection. Thus, I try my best to make every effort to mobilize intrinsic motivation of those whom I support and teach by demonstrating respect for their autonomy (Stefanou, Perencevich, DiCintio, annd Turner, 2004), engaging them in personally meaningful processes (Weimer, 2002), and sharing my own personal commitment to learning and growth (McKinney, 1999). In my role as a Graduate Facilitator at the Centre for Teaching, Learning, and Technology (CTLT), I support the professional development of fellow graduate students and teaching assistants through delivery of interactive peer-based programs, such as the Instructional Skills Workshop, Peer Review of Teaching, TA Training Workshops, and Learning Institute Workshops. The empowerment principle is evident in how I challenge participants to experiment with different teaching methodologies through modeling and demonstration, how I facilitate self-reflection and peer-feedback to help them recognize their strengths and capacities as instructors, and how I encourage them in becoming effective practitioners and change agents in their own teaching contexts.
As a co-instructor of the Vancouver Summer Program, Dr. Amanda Bradley and I utilized a backward curriculum design to tailor the course content for international students from diverse (cultural and disciplinary) backgrounds (Jacob, 1989). The principle of reciprocity is embedded in our professional working relationship, which fosters transparency, accountability, and mutual understanding and learning. Throughout this learner-centric design process, we continually consulted one another about the alignment of learning objectives and activities and discussed how our teaching intentions would best translate into our classroom. My keen awareness of the disciplinary signature pedagogies (Shulman, 2005) and of multiple ways of seeing or frames of reference (Mezirow, 1997) also helped us to better articulate our assumptions around teaching and learning and to make thoughtful instructional decisions that prioritize learners’ experiences. Moreover, we provided formative feedback on one another’s work to continually improve our lesson designs and to build our collective capacity to enhance the quality of student learning throughout the course.
Learning curves can be exciting and rewarding, yet at times uncomfortable. For many instructors, lacking a sense of control, such as when implementing new teaching techniques, results in an increased the sense of vulnerability (Dornsife, 2012). In my role as a Graduate Academic Assistant to the Open Case Study project, I support faculty members to explore possibilities of utilizing case studies and of incorporating and/or creating open educational resources in their classrooms using an inquiry-based approach. During my consultations, I facilitate meta-cognition by inviting instructors to engage in critical reflection around their teaching intentions and to formulate learning objectives that would capture their desired impact of using open case studies. This process is anchored in learner-centrism and provides instructors with a more structured framework to consider the alignment of their instructional decisions, which is a one of the key pre-requisites of successful implementation of new teaching techniques with aims to enrich the learning environments and experiences. I further support the instructors by suggesting relevant scholarship of teaching and learning resources, connecting them to other instructors experienced with using open case studies, and/or holding space for instructors to brainstorm for strategies to integrate case studies in their own teaching contexts. My inquiry-based approach to consultations also echoes the principle of empowerment; instructors are encouraged to engage in self-directed inquiry around teaching and learning while being well supported on this new learning curve. Moreover, I am also engaged in my own inquiry through scholarship of teaching and learning to evaluate the impact of open case studies on student learning.
To enhance the impact of my work, I’m actively involved in personal professional development – allowing my curiosity to guide my growth in different directions in my capacity as an ED and beyond. I’m also actively expanding my network and community to learn from and to be inspired by other practitioners. Through an evidence-based and scholarly approach, I hope to continue on this ED journey and contribute to the ED community with my creativity and innovation.
Dornsife R. (2012) Good Teaching as Vulnerable Teaching. The Teaching Professor,10: 1,6
McKinney K. (1999). Encouraging Students’ Intrinsic Motivation. The Teaching Professor, December: 4.
Shulman, L. S. (2005). Signature pedagogies in the professions. Daedalus, 134(3), 52-59.
Stefanou C.R., Perencevich K.C., DiCintio M., Turner J.C. (2004). Supporting Autonomy in the Classroom: Ways Teachers Encourage Student Decision Making and Ownership. Educational Psychologist, 39:2, 97-110.
Weiman M. (2002). Learner Centered Teaching: Five Key Changes to Practice. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Last Updated: November 2017
Photo Credit: Free-Photos via Pixabay. Creative Commons 0.