Why do we continue to lecture, when the results keep telling us they are not the best way to deliver content? Why do we teach to only one learning style?  Students have changed, they expect more for their instructors and the same old boring lessons day after day are not going to be enough for them.  We all know why we do it because change is hard, it’s messy and takes a lot of energy. It’s not that we are lazy if we were lazy we wouldn’t be instructors. This job is not designed for lazy people. I have never worked so hard at a job as I have as an instructor. But I have to say the rewards are just as huge as the effort you put in. The day you get to pass your students their diploma’s, is worth all the hard work. It makes every late night and early morning easier.  It reminds me of being a parent. I can barely remember the sleepless nights and the exhausting days because the reward of a watching my children grow is a hundred times larger than any sleepless night.

Lucky for me I am a new instructor, I am not set in my ways. I actually don’t have any ways yet. Change is easier if you have never set expectations. My courses are planned, laid out and tied with a pretty bow but they aren’t mine. They aren’t my information, my research, I am not tied to them. It’s time for me to get creative, start using some of the new tools I have been learning about from my PIDP courses and put my students learning first. It’s time for me to start making some changes.


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.

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.

My Life as a Lifelong Learner

tree of life.pixabay image

Long before I became an instructor I chose the life of a lifelong learner, probably from the day I picked my career as a CDA. In the healthcare profession, lifelong learning is not a choice but a necessity. You need to stay current with licensed duties and professional obligations.  Dentistry changes rapidly, there is always some new tool or material to buy and then learn about. We have annual continuing education credits we need, as well as clinical hours to log just to be able to renew our licences.

We are really fortunate to have a huge dental convention in Kelowna every October. The convention is spread out over three days and always has some great lectures, hands on courses, as well as a huge collection exhibitors. This is a great event to get all of our CE credits from but I also attend a variety of courses and lectures throughout the year. I enjoy attend local society meetings, and day workshops with some of my colleagues. I am currently looking into restarting up our CDA society in Kelowna. We haven’t had a local director in years, and I feel the Okanagan could really benefit from meetings and gathering just for CDA’s.

My plans for future as far as it goes for continuing my learning as an instructing, I plan on competing my instructor diploma in the next 2 years.  I am going to continue with my current instructing position of 1 or 2 days clinical per week.  I am always looking to expand into theory class whenever the chance comes up. Last year I accept a position instructing a continuing study course, for CDA’s.  Even though most of the theory is online, I am getting experience instructing review sessions, as well as answering emails, marking assignments, and final exams. This year it sounds like I will have an opportunity to take on the main theory instructor position. This will mean more responsibility and more learning! I feel this a great learning experience because I am mentoring my peers verses instructing students that will be future CDA’s.

I am really lucky that my current employment at Okanagan College gives me access to a few of their distance education course they offer instructors.  I took my first one last year, learner-centred instructing certificate. After I have complete my PIDP I plan to take the Service & Support in a Learner Centered Organization course.  I feel this course and any future course I take will help me to better engage my students in a learner-centred instructing.

My goal as an instructor is to learn from the best, observe how they teach, how they assess, how they create positive rapports with their students, how they learn from their students and all the little things that go hand in hand with being a great instructor and a learner-centred instructor.