Challenging Transitions

9x9x25 Blog Post #1

During my years as an educator, I have learned to be flexible and expect the unexpected. I have taught all ages – from preschool through to the college level. The most challenging transition I’ve had is to the post-secondary world 5 years ago.

Here a just a few challenges:

  • I never used slides to teach in any other level of education until I came to post-secondary. I felt peer pressure to teach using slides because ‘everyone is doing it’. I’ll admit, I’m not that good at sticking to the slides to teach.

NOW: I use them as a reminder of what to talk about and what activities to do, mainly because students expect slides. I’d like to challenge myself to go back to teaching 100% without slides the next time I teach my course.

  • This leads me to my second challenge — at first, I felt like active learning and self-directed learning weren’t encouraged. I felt that I was to deliver content the entire class. This was a major shift for me, as I always encouraged choice, active learning and self-directed learning in my high school classroom.

NOW: I have incorporated some open pedagogy in my classroom, but I’d like to include choice in assessments, add more active learning and activities, and include centres for more self-directed/hands-on learning, so I am able to focus on smaller group instruction.

  • I miss having my own classroom! I miss putting up anchor charts! I miss having a flexible, comfortable classroom — I had couches, bean bag chairs, a dining room table, pillows, lamps, plants, etc.

NOW: I do see that post-secondary institutions in Ontario are starting to create flexible learning spaces with tables/chairs that have wheels so they can be moved into group or lecture set ups. I hope that some day I’ll be able to teach in a really futuristic flexible learning classroom!

  • I see my students for 3 hours per week currently, while I used to see my high school students 80 minutes per day for an entire semester. It is much more of a challenge to create a classroom community when I only see the students 3 hours per week.

NOW: I’ve become more creative in fostering a positive learning community in my English classroom.

One thing that hasn’t changed is my sense of pride in calling myself a teacher. I teach one course per semester currently. My full-time assignment is as a faculty member but working in our Teaching & Learning Hub as a Curriculum Designer. I will always identify myself as a teacher. I love teaching regardless of all of the challenges I’ve faced. Those challenges allow me to grow as a teacher and become better.

5 Comments

    1. Yes, I thought there would be more forward movement in post-secondary. It seems that the elementary and secondary system are embracing new evidence-based practices faster than we are at the post-sec level. I’ll start by redesigning my course to add more new age things: open pedagogy, active learning, self-directed learning, choice, etc. 🙂

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