Month: January 2016

Staying Postive!

This video was created by Strayer University which is located in Herndon, Virginia USA. The purpose of the clip is to inform us, that teachers positively impact students in many ways. Although the video didn’t cite any major theories or receive a nomination for a Nobel Prize, it does show us how teachers make permanent changes in the lives of their students.

In this video, several students were asked who their favorite teachers were, and how they changed their lives. Each student expressed different examples where the teachers helped build their confidence, fight against bullying, provided extra learning assistance, or helped them feel more welcomed. What the students didn’t know, was that their teachers were standing behind the scene listening to the interview. The students were shocked when the teachers walked out and surprised them. What shocked me the most is how the teachers felt when listening to what the students had to say. They were happy to hear that their hard work and dedication as a teacher made such an impact.

A good teacher should help their students become successful in the classroom. Teachers love feedback, so it’s important that students also take the time to return the gestures. Together we need to help each other by keeping the atmosphere alive and positive.


Are You Telling The Truth?

About 13 years ago I worked for Encana Corp, which is a midstream oil and gas company based in Calgary, Alberta Canada. During a monthly department meeting, my supervisor asked me a question regarding the repairs of a piece of equipment. After I successfully answered the question, he continued asking more questions, trying to figure out why the equipment was repaired in the first place. When explaining my reasoning’s, I said “In the past all nitrile seats were replaced with Teflon seats, I “assumed” it was okay to do it again”. It was the first and last time I used “assume” when explaining why I did something. My supervisor was livid, and told me to “never assume again!” Although I was right, I learned that assumptions could create negative effects.

In chapter two of the skillful teacher Brookfield (2006) listed the three core assumptions of skillful teaching:

  1. Skillful teaching is whatever helps students learn
  2. Skillful teachers adopt a critically reflective stance towards their practice
  3. The most important knowledge skillful teachers need to do good work is a constant awareness of how students are experiencing their learning and perceiving teachers’ actions.

After reflecting on assumption number one. I believe my teaching style constantly changes to match the students in class. Every semester I face different obstacles and challenges, so it’s impossible to use the same tactics with every class. I believe it’s comparable to flying an airplane. Although all airplanes can fly from point A to point B, it doesn’t mean the controls and functions of each craft operates the same. It takes a trained pilot to apply his skills to fly each model. Like a teacher we must use many teaching strategies and skills to help our students learn. Not all students operate and control the same.

Assumption number two is a very critical step, that I also encourage everyone to take part of. Although many of us “especially guys”, don’t enjoy spending time reflecting on our thoughts. It’s a valuable tool to use, as it allows us to view our own teaching habits from different points of view.  Brookfield (2006) suggests that there are four lenses (ways) that we can self-reflect.

  • Students eyes
  • Colleagues’ perceptions
  • Reading educational literature
  • Review our own personal auto biography

I fully understand assumption number three. Being an Adult learner and teaching at the same time provides me a good sense, of what the students are going through. It is very important for us to understand how they feel while sitting through our lessons. It takes time to build trust with our students, so it’s critical that we come off as smart, funny, understanding, and confident. Having an understanding of how our students feel, allows us to judge each situation and make the required adjustments to satisfy them.


Muddle This Muddle That..

Brookfield (2015) describes muddling around as how a teacher feels when there are no clear guidelines to help deal with unexpected changes. Have you ever muddled around the classroom?

When I accepted my first instructing job in 2014, I had no idea what was coming. I moved from Canada to the Middle East with my family to start a new career. After a few weeks of orientations at the college and purchasing the basic necessities to survive in our accommodation, I was assigned to a class. This was nerve wrecking, and exciting at the same time.

The class consisted of two students. Both students were at an intermediate level studying instrumentation. They attended less than 50% of the time, and spoke very little English. Some days both students would attend class, other days only one student would show, and quite frequently neither of them would show up at all.

Now being a new instructor my college provided a guidance manual, which showed me how to handle lessons, assessments, grading, attendance, counseling etc. This guide was packed with information. They told me if I couldn’t figure out how to tie my shoes, the manual had an answer. This book was the bible of the department. If you had a problem the manual provided the answer.

From the beginning of the semester my students showed up late, almost every day. They provided excuses like their car breaking down, blown tire, girl friend is visiting ;), playing video games, and my favorite “Mister my camel is sick” . Plus it was common that they wouldn’t return after coffee break. I was baffled that my students didn’t show up to class on time, left early and they didn’t seem to care. I tried to motivate them, talk one on one with them. I thought for sure it was my problem, and I was failing as an instructor.

So to fix the problem I reverted back to the school manual, and found out that I needed to refer both students to the counselor. So I filled out the form and send it off. After a few days of being Mr. Detective trying to find the answers, one of my students came to me and said, “Teacher I don’t need to come to class, all the time”. “It’s okay because my company won’t give me trouble”. He continued telling me that the counselor referral system doesn’t work, because his company didn’t follow the college’s disciplinary policy. Basically students can show up late, miss classes and fail the course, but yet stay on the payroll. Life is great as a student!

A situation like this will never be printed in an employee manual. We have no control if our students choose to show up late or stay home. We can’t stop a student who figures out how to break a broken system. And we can’t change something that is culturally accepted. This is the real stuff. As an instructor I must continue muddling around looking for the right answers, and trying my best to search for the unknown.

What’s your Teaching Perspective?

I recently completed online survey called TPITeaching Prospective Inventory. The results of the survey summarizes your views and prospective about teaching. Click Here to try it out.

Basically the website provides many questions and statements. Each question and statement has a category with check box that you must select. E.g. strongly agree, agree, neutral, disagree or strongly disagree. After reading the question or statement you must determine how it relates in your classroom. Once the survey is complete the website sends an e-mail with a profile sheet. The profile sheet provides your TPI results.

Note: If you are unfamiliar of this process, the website has an easy to follow guide to help understand your results.

The TPI profile is broken in five main categories.

  1. Transmission
  2. Apprenticeship
  3. Development
  4. Nurturing
  5. Social Reform

And three sub-categories

  1. B= Beliefs         What you believe about teaching and learning
  2. I= Intentions   What you try and accomplish in your teaching
  3. A=Actions         What you do when you’re teaching

Each category is placed on a graph and has a value that ranges between 9 and 45. This value determines your dominate, backup and recessive teaching perspectives. The following results are from my TPI profile.

  • Apprenticeship-Dominate = 39 (B=11, I=14, A=14)
  • Transmission-Backup=36 (B=12, I=11, A=13)
  • Nurturing-Backup=35 (B=12, I=12, A=11)
  • Development-Recessive=29 (B=8, I=11, A=10)
  • Social Reform=31 (B=11, I=10, A=10)

Reflection of my results

The results are surprisingly accurate. I defiantly agree that my teaching style matches those of the apprenticeship prospective. I worked in industry for almost 18 years, and completed my instrumentation program as an apprentice in Alberta, Canada. I also operated a business where I trained my apprentices through the same program. Currently I teach instrumentation at a vocational college, where my students are completing a similar program.

My industry experience is an advantage for my students as I’m a highly skilled practitioner. Whether I’m in the classroom or in the shop, the students can rely on accurate information. These ESL students need easy and clear explanations to simplify the task, as they are learning technical data in English. It’s been my duty to determine what my learners are capable of completing on their own, and what tasks require assistance. Throughout their training it’s also my responsibility to challenge each student to ensure they develop new skills. These traits I accumulated overtime match the apprenticeship teaching prospective to a tee.

This website clarified who I am, and what I believe is right as an instructor. The TPI profile also indicated that transmission and nurturing perspectives are my backups. Transmission is essentially where the students indicate that their instructors are masters of the subject matter or content. And nurturing is where instructors truly care for their students, and understand that everyone unique in their own way. Both of these perspectives are also very important in my classroom.

I challenge you to take the test, and see how accurate the results match your teaching prospective. Tools like these help us gain valuable insight of who were are, and where we can to go.

Keep learning my friends.

Who me?

Hello everyone. I go by the name(s) of Mike, Michael, Mr., Dad, Daddy, Ralph, and Sir. Feel free to call me any of these names….. but most people call me Mike.

Here’s a little information about myself.

I worked in Alberta and British Columbia as an Instrumentation Technician/ Designer in the oil and gas industry for the past 15 years. In August 2014, I moved to Doha, Qatar to instruct Process operations and Instrumentation.

Being here in the Middle East is a great opportunity for my family and me, to learn and interact with many cultures. So far this new journey has been very fulfilling. It’s kind of cool to take part of helping the State reach their 2030 vision of Qatarization. Since moving to Qatar, we have traveled to many places. UAE, Italy and Ireland, London, Germany, Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg. I plan to visit Turkey in March and likely Thailand in April.

I enrolled in PIDP in September 2015, to further my education in the academic world. I felt that I needed more qualifications to make myself more valuable rather than being a “trade’s guy”.  I’m hoping that PIDP-3260-Professional Practice, will help me both in and out of classroom. This semester I started a new position as a curriculum developer, designing a new program for our trades department. This job includes interaction with staff, students, clients, management and industry leaders. Over the next couple of months, I plan to use what I learned from the course, and adapt these new skills when communicating with others.