Week 7

Mental Help!

In chapter fourteen of the skillful teacher, Brookfield (2006) said that “the purpose of teaching is to help students learn, then the focus of your efforts clearly needs to be on the understanding how students are experiencing their learning and on responding appropriately to this information.” Based on this perspective Brookfield believes that we should direct our energy towards the students rather than focusing on our own problems. E.g.; frustration, disappointment, or self-loathing. Internal dwelling does not benefit anyone. In the students best interest we need to refocus our thoughts and explore ways to support our mental health. There are three ways to accomplish this.

#1 Develop a Working Philosophy of Teaching

Although many of us don’t believe we need to create a teaching philosophy, the reality is that we act as philosophers each and every day. When teaching we apply our own set of values, beliefs, insights and convictions about teaching which shapes what we think and do. When we are aware of these thoughts it provides us structure and a vision with everyone that surrounds us.

#2 Forming a Supportive Network

Everyone needs support from time to time. Having peers to bounce your thoughts and ideas off is a great way to remove the weight of your shoulders. Knowing that someone else feels the same way as you do, is experiencing similar situations, or is dealing with an equivalent dilemma, shows that you are not the only one facing these problems. Having a good supportive group helps ease any mental stress created.

#3 Remember the Fifteen Maxims of Skillful Teaching

  • Expect ambiguity
  • Perfection is an illusion
  • Ground your teaching in how your students are learning
  • Be wary of standardized models and approaches
  • Regularly reflect on your own learning
  • Take your instincts seriously
  • Create Diversity
  • Don’t be afraid to take risks
  • Remember that learning is emotional
  • Acknowledge you personality
  • Don’t evaluate yourself only by students satisfaction
  • Remember the importance of both support and challenge
  • Recognize and accept you power
  • View yourself as a helper of learning
  • Don’t trust what you’ve just read.

Lifelong learning is a choice

In order for us to grow we must learn new things. Without learning our minds become dull and unaware of our surrounding. As professionals we must look outside shells and find ways to expand our knowledge and skills.

Throughout my career I searched for ways to make myself smarter and more valuable. When I received my instrumentation Red Seal in 2005 I spent an additional three years working in the field as a technician. In 2008 I decided it was time to challenge myself again and take a job as an instrumentation designer at an Engineering firm downtown Calgary, Alberta. This position was a big challenge as many of the needed skills were beyond my educational qualifications. But it forced me to learn something new which helped my future success.

In 2009 I decided to start an instrumentation and electrical business with three partners. The skills I learned as a technician and designer helped prepare me to run a company.  The skills I obtained while owning a company for four years made me even more knowledgeable as it granted me a management position at an automation company in 2013. Without the hard work and dedication of running a business I wouldn’t have created this opportunity.

In 2014 I accepted an instrumentation instructor position in Doha, Qatar. This job would not have been on the radar if I didn’t steer myself in the right direction throughout my career. Living a life where I continuously want to learn helped me become a stronger individual.  With this attitude I’m curious where life will take me. Until then I will continue challenging myself and maintain a lifelong learning attitude.