Chain Notes – A PowToon Presentation

I have created a digital project on the Classroom Assessment Technique, Chain Notes.  Its a great feedback instrument to get fast, honest student feedback on their engagement and learning.  I hope you enjoy and learn something new.

Please follow the link below:




What I Have Been up to With My Education

Currently I am working my way through my PIDP at VCC. I am almost half way, I am so excited!!! Going back to school has been a huge decision for me. One I have thought about often as my life changed over the years.  Originally I went to college right out of high school. I was determined to pick a career and get started working ASAP. I was happy with my choice but always felt I wanted to do more. I thought about going back to school for Dental Hygiene, but marriage, kids and the factor that there is no hygiene program in the Okanagan, changed my plans.  After 14 years, I found my calling, took the plunge and jumped back in school. I have to say one of the best decisions of my life. Things haven’t been easy. Being an instructor isn’t as easy as my fellow instructors have made it look. Thankfully the courses at VCC have given me great new skills to make things easier.  They help me to appreciate that every student brings different diversity, different learning needs and styles. All my course so far have opened my eyes to these new learning curves and given me the skills to help focus my classroom into a learner-centred classroom.

To date I have completed 3100, 3210, 3250 and near the end of 3260. It has been a long road to this point. I feel 3100 was one of the biggest challenges for me since it was my first course in near 14 years. It was a big one, with an essay, starting a blog, learning how to journal and much more. I had to learn how to use APA formatting, and how to create a blog, both came with their own learning curves but taught me some great skills I have been expanding a pone in the rest of my courses. My last assignment creating a digital project was so much fun. I never knew I could create my own educational cartoon. I can see myself using this in the future.

Since all of my courses have been online I feel it has also opened my eyes to different challenges my students face.  This is the new day and age and technology is a huge part. These course have taught me a lot of new technology and media, I never knew existed. I am so excited to start incorporating these new things into my presentation and into my classroom.  Part of this new technology has been a blog. I never thought I would enjoy creating a blog as much as I have. Reading my classmate’s blogs, has also been a great experience and very helpful in my learning. Reading their post and their life stories helps bring the online classroom together and create more of a comradery that is hard to find in online course. Through my blog, my life, my experiences, my struggles, my triumphs are posted online along with articles and videos I find useful as a beginner instructor.  I am looking forward to continuing to expand my blog or possibly starting a new one. Maybe one targeted more to the program I am instructing or to farther educated CDA in my community, the possibilities are endless. I found my easiest posts have been on something I am passionate about, finding my own articles, instead of commenting on my textbook has been much more interesting to me.

It’s funny that I found it such a huge decision to continue my education when all a long I have been continuing my education, just in different ways. I have always attended Dental conventions, society meetings, elective course but nothing quiet as big as registering for my PIDP. I am a lifelong learner but never realized it before taking these courses. The more I learn, the more excited I get about my next assignment or my next course. I am looking forward to what the future brings next.

Lifelong Learning

quote ......i learn

I truly believe that majority of us are lifelong learners, weather you’re a teacher, a dentist, or a farmer. Learning doesn’t stop when school ends. Especially in this day and age, with technology and multimedia it’s hard to stay on top of everything new all the time. It’s a continuous job of learner and training.

I think being a lifelong learner is realizing that everything around us is an opportunity for a new learning experience. I might be taking a structured course through VCC at the moment but I am also learning about becoming a farmer. We just got mini goats, I don’t know anything about goats. I have to learn what they eat, how much they eat, and what is bad for them to eat. I don’t just have to learn how to feed them and I am done, it’s not that simple. I now need to continue my learning as they grow. Do I need to ween them from their mom? When do they breed?  How do I take care of a baby goat if mom abandons it? Being a farmer is an ongoing learning experience, taking skills and knowledge I have learned and building on it. Some days its google teaching me, some days it’s the nice gentlemen at the farm store or sometimes I learn from the goats! Farmers do lots of stuff on their own, without vets.

So I am not sure that lifelong learning is just for professionals? I think lifelong learning is for everyone. The reason to be a lifelong learner are endless.  I think as a professional it might be more of a must then a choice. If you’re a farmer you do it because you have to. I don’t think Vets makes house calls, and if they do it not cheap. As a dentist you’re a lifelong learner because your business depends on it! If you don’t upgrade and stay current,  with all the latest and greatest gadgets, your patients are going to wander down the street to the next office that has all those fancy new gadgets, and a coffee bar too!!

Personally I think you just need to find something you are interested in, to want to learn about. I think if a student finds relevance in what they are learning they are more motivated. I feel this is especially important in creating lifelong learners. They need something to motivate them and create that drive to learn more.  Everything I have been learning with my PIDP’s is relevant to my new career as an instructor.  I am new to instructing and am eager to learn. I have a feeling that even as I become more of an experience instructor my love for learning, and my journey of being a lifelong learner isn’t going to change. I have been a certified dental assistant for over 16 years and still I get excited about learning new materials, and gadgets. I know that my passion for instructing is going to keep me striving to continue learning.

What kind of teacher’s do I want to be?

teaching quote be the best teacher

I recently read this article in Faculty Focus, by Maryellen Weimer, called “It’s Not About Hard or Easy Courses”. It made me think, are we missing the big picture when we look at our student’s successes and failures? Are our courses designed with student success in mind or with a reputation of having high standards? I am not saying lower our expectations from our students, or give special considerations. What I am saying is to be the best teacher you can be to help your students succeed! We need to think about our students in our classroom, not our past classrooms or future classrooms but our present classrooms. We need to focus on what these students need out of our instructing to succeed.  I want to do everything in my power to help my students become successful CDA! I want to be proud that they came from my Institution, from my program, from my classroom. I want them to come back and thank me for having higher expectations from them, or for pushing them a little more, when I know they have it in them. Students are not going to remember you for being the “Easy” teacher! They are going to remember the teacher that worked hard at her job and gave a little more of herself in each and every class, and expected the same from her students.  I want my students to have a full understand of what I am teaching, not only what is on the examination.

I know in our program we have “hard” courses and “easy” courses, it doesn’t always come down to instructors being easy on students or not being amazing at their jobs. Sometimes there are circumstances out of our control. If we were talking in terms of difficulty levels in a course, do you think nutrition and radiography taught to a CDA would be similar? Yes I am sure they can both have their highs and lows, but the bottom line is you have to compare apples to apples, and nutrition and radiography just aren’t the same type of fruit! One courses content is going to be easier than another, it doesn’t always come down to the instructor.

The same goes for some of the clinical skills we test our students on. I feel there are skills that are easier to master than other, and sometimes it’s hard to teach these simpler skills. If it seem easy the students seem to spend less time trying to perfect their skills. I  can understand why, but sometimes I feel they are missing steps in an important skill because it comes across as less important because it’s easier?

I like how Weimer (2016) sums up this article, What students need are not hard or easy courses, but course experiences that result in lots of learning—where they master the material, further develop the sophisticated learning skills necessary for lifelong learning, and where the encounter leaves them breathless to learn more.

Her words give me goosebumps.This is exactly what I want my students to get out of my course. Skills that they can continue to use as they farther their educations or move on into their future careers. I don’t want them spending their school years just trying to memorize the facts.


Weimer, M. (2016, March 16th). It’s Not About Hard or Easy Courses. Faculty Focus.

Retrieved from


IF I KNEW THEN: A Letter to Me on My First Day Teaching

I posted this video because these teachers are real, they are honest and they hold nothing back. They made me laugh, made me cry and made me nod my head in agreement. They don’t pretend that teaching is an easy job. They admit it’s hard but very rewarding.

Looking back to over 2 years ago, when I first started instructing, I wonder what advice future me would have given to help me prepare for my first day? I found it very hard coming into a program half way through the year. The students were unsure of me. They doubt my teaching skills, (no surprise since it was my first day EVER!!). It probably didn’t help I was only 4-5 years older than half of them. They had doubt, I had doubt, some days I still have doubt. Even though in two short years my confidence has grown, along with my teaching, it’s still hard work. Our program changes students every year. I feel I have to re-prove to each class that I have experience and that I am knowledgeable. I think this is why I feel this video needs to be reposted and also why I love the first chapter in Brookfield’s book. They both are straight from the heart, nothing hidden, nothing fake, just real comments to explain that teaching is an emotional roller coaster, with highs and lows, but so very much worth the work in the end!!

I wanted to include my favourite words of wisdom from the teacher’s in this video:

You will fail, you will make mistakes, except it with grace and humility.

Never stop learning.

Ask for and admit you need help.

Lives and futures depend on you!


Soulpancake. May 3, 2014. If I Knew Then: A Letter to Me on My First Day Teaching.

Reposted from:

The Big “L” Word

child with computer


Yes, I am going to talk about the big “L” word today, Lectures!  Some people love them, some people hate them and some people just deal with them. I have to admit I thought there was only one way to lecture and one outcome from lecturing, sleeping students.  When I say I am a lifelong learner, I really mean it, every day I learn something new. Today I learned there is more than one way to lecture!! Yes it’s true! I just finished Chapter 6 in “The Skillful Teacher”, By Stephen Brookfield’s and he actually can write a full chapter on ways to lecture. I took notes on my readings today and wrote down a bunch of links I wanted share at the end of my post.

I feel like when I try to lecture, I just naturally migrate to a classroom discussion, and then into small group discussions. I am always worried about not keeping my students engaged. I think Brookfield opened my eyes to new possibilities with lecturing. Brookfield (2015) discusses what he calls Lecturing from Siberia which he first learned about from a book by Ira Shor (1996) called When Students Have Power. He explains the zone at the far back of the classroom, sometimes beside the back door, as Siberia. This is an area where students tend to go to avoid being called a pone or to take a nap. Ira describes moving your lecture into Siberia. By doing this he shifts his students focus and in turn can effectively engage them into his lecture.

Lecturing in Siberia leads nicely into the example I am most excited about trying in my classroom. Brookfield’s (2015) next idea is to Use Spartial Separation for “Speaking in Tongue”.  Brookfield explains this as more of an activity, but in lecture form, where he is discussing the same topic but from different points of view. To help students distinguish between the different points of view by He puts up different signs around the classroom. Brookfield then proceeds to move to these different areas and continue his discussion using different voices and different hats to help his students recognize the perspectives. I think this could be a great way to engage your students into lectures. It helps mix thigs up instead of just standing at the front of the class. I feel if the students are curious about what you are doing there is more chance they will be following you instead of drifting off.  I could see myself trying this idea, since I think I could incorporate in some group work with the students, after the initial lecture is done.

I have heard before that keeping your lecture to 10-15 mins is an important part to keeping your students attention and motivation. But what do you do after 10-15 mins, when you still have another 45mins of material to cover in your lecture?  Brookfield (2015) addresses this issue with a few options. You could try doing a one-minute paper, response to the class Twitter feed or TodaysMeet, as mini brain breaks. These are great ways to break up your lecture and to promote classroom discussions. They are also a great way to help you assess where to direct your lecture, based on where your students’ needs are.

Here are some of the links I found helpful in my readings from Brookfield’s The Skillful Teacher.

References :

Brookfield, S.D (2015). The Skillful Teacher: On Trust, technique and responsiveness in the classroom. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Shor, I. When Teachers Have Power: Negotiating Authority in a critical Pedagogy. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996.

The Resistance

I love to learn but hate to be forced

There is always going to be students that are resistant to learning. Just like there is always going to be students who are late to class. We can try to encourage with grades and privileges but for some students it’s going to take a lot more work.

Looking at the cause of the resistance is a great start. Brookfield (2015) list some helpful ideas on finding out the root cause of the resistance. He starts with using feedback instruments like CIQs, one minute papers and learning audits. If those fail, it is time to take more action and have a meeting with the individual.

Just like every student has different learning styles, I feel every student has different reason behind their resistance to learning. I know in our program, we had one student that took our program only because her mom thought it was a great career choice for her. The student had no desire to be a CDA, She didn’t want to be in school at all. She had come straight from high school and was not mentally not prepared to be in post-secondary education. With no motivation to learn, her resistance was high. Once we understand the main reason for her resistance, it was clear to see that even with as much help and encouragement as we could give her, we would not able to create the drive she needed to succeed.

Brookfield (2015) includes modeling behaviours and dispositions as another way to help break down resistant students. I feel that modeling what we are expecting from our students is a must.  There is no way you would get away with saying “do as I say, not as I do”, in a classroom now a days. It just wouldn’t fly!  How could we expect our students to do something that we are not even prepared to do ourselves? We are teaching a great deal of generation x’ers and they need to know the relevance behind everything they are learning. We need to set an excellent example, to build up their confidence in us as their teachers.

Have clear expectation is also another example Brookfield (2015) uses to help with resistant students. Brookfield (2015) states that one benefit of using a grading rubric is that it enables students to see exactly what it is that you’re looking for in their work.  By giving your students as much information on a project or assignment as possible you are more likely to have less resistance from students.  Students don’t like surprises. I find time and time again I am asked by students about what my expectation will be on a final exam. In clinic our students are given a copy of all our clinical evaluation forms. There is a spot for their self, their peer and another full page for our final evaluation. Everything is laid out in great detail for them.  We walk through these exact forms when we do our demonstration in clinic.  Yet I still I have students ask what I expect from them! This is when I tell them to re-read the final evaluation and then come back and talk to me if your question has not been answered.

The battle with resistant students is a never ending journey. But it is one we can address and if we can succeed in breaking through a few barricades, I feel it is a battle worth fighting.


Brookfield, S.D (2015). The Skillful Teacher: On Trust, technique and responsiveness in the classroom. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.