Posts made by Gina Bennett

 

Thanks so much for your detailed & helpful feedback, Sue! I realized from the start that this draft was too general & vague -- your observations would certainly help me to tighten it up, drop some parts & flesh out others. Organizing my thoughts into sections with clear themes & sub-themes would definitely improve it, wouldn't it?? Good observation!  

The more I think about this process, however, the more I think audience is critical. I'd need to know who I was writing for in order to revise it properly. If I were applying for a job back in the ABE math classroom, I would include examples, assessments, & key events to illustrate how I work in that environment. But if I were applying for a curriculum development opportunity, perhaps helping a group of faculty to incorporate more varied online practices, I would certainly choose different examples & events to communicate my philosophy. And I'd choose different ones again if that same curriculum gig were to be delivered to a group of community developers in Kenya. 

I'm reminded of a workbook or guide I read some time ago (no idea of the reference at this late date), about how to develop an academic portfolio. The guide recommended first putting together a "portmanteau" portfolio: a collection of certificates, letters of recommendation, assessments you'd created, results of your teaching evaluations, notes from students, you name it. Then, when you are required to apply for a job or otherwise describe your teaching skill, you pick & choose items from your portmanteau to fit the bill. I wonder, for those of us with a hodge-podge of education-related experience, if such an approach might help when putting together a TPS... separate sections to fit different educational work & roles, from which you can pick & choose when you have a specific teaching job or audience in mind. What do you think? 

Regardless of audience, you've given me an excellent overview of the level of detail, organization, and style that might be expected in a formal TPS. Thanks again for all the work you put into this (for all of us!)


 

hi Leonne,

Like Sylvia, I was nodding the whole time I read your TPS draft. I couldn't agree more with your recommendations for how to work with ABE learners.  I think this draft could be worked into an 'orientation to teaching ABE level Math' & could be offered to anybody who's been hired for this kind of work. Heck, I think it should be mandatory for anybody who has never taught ABE math before!

I don't think it quite captures your philosophy though. I'm thinking about when I was hired last year to teach a section of ABE Math for UFV. Working off by myself in Hope, I wasn't sure about the UFV culture or the way ABE math had been taught there in the past. I was starting out with the directions I could find in the various assessment materials (marking guides, Chapter tests etc.) which seemed (to me) to be a bit strict for ABE students.

You were an immeasurable help to me! You explained (patiently & sometimes more than once) how YOU interpreted the assessment directions, "bent the rules" or even ignored them when the situation required it. Based on my interactions with you, I'd say a big part of your underlying philosophy was COMPASSION for the students & their struggles. You obviously liked the math & understood its importance & its potential for your students but it was clear to me that compassion for your students underlined everything you did. 

You were very compassionate to me, too, as a newbie in the UFV system! smile

Anyway... I hope that's not too personal ... I'm glad for an opportunity to thank you once again for your past help.



 

Like Hillarie, said... feels a bit scary to put this out there. I found this exercise hard to do -- although I'm starting with a TPS I completed only a year or 2 ago, I don't have a specific teaching job right now, nor am I applying for one so it feels kind of vague. I struggled especially with the last bit, trying to mention something about theories or themes that have informed my philosophy without going into too much detail. I'm keen for feedback!

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Teaching is powerful. I haven't always been comfortable about that power; over the years, my role as a teacher has shortened in stature & blurred somewhat. I no longer seek to 'change people's lives,' but instead to help people change their own lives.

People pursue learning - consciously or subconsciously - because they want to become something more and I am drawn to teaching as a way to accompany the learner in the becoming process. My skill as a teacher lies in not just instruction (where needed), but also in listening, reflecting, supporting, and assisting the learner in clarification of goals. I enjoy doing this work and I do it compulsively with just about anybody I meet: students (of course), friends and family, the young woman bagging my purchases in the grocery store.

When working with students, I want to understand something about what they seek through learning. I want to develop our mutually trusting relationship to the point where they reveal some deep curiousity or articulate a need to act, serve, or to *be* differently in the world. Once we reach that point, my role morphs into something more like a waitress: 'How can I help you today?' 'What information sources can I steer you towards?' 'Do you want skills with that?'

Although I am a compulsive adult educator who will attempt to practise on just about anyone, I am especially drawn to those outside the traditional academy: those who never completed any formal program, learned to do math, or even to speak fluent English. Those who do not think of themselves as academic material, or perhaps long ago gave up any dreams requiring formal education. These are my People and I am drawn to them professionally like a moth to a lamp.

I believe education -- changing your life through learning -- is a fundamental human right. (Probably this is why I'm so drawn to the Open Education movement.) And I understand that learning changes not only individual lives, but societal directions as well. My perspective on teaching, learning, and society has been profoundly influenced by the concept of border pedagogy, as put forward by Henry Giroux, and developed more broadly by others (see e.g. this piece by Tom Heaney). In many ways, I see teaching as "border work" in which we help learners gain access to desired opportunities, goals, and communities of practice. 


 

heh heh ... I love this image, Sue! But I have a feeling if I plugged my brain into Wordle & watched the word cloud develop, it might resemble more of a horror movie. At least until my computer began to smoke. wink


 

hi Leonne (probably my nearest neighbour in this course :D )

I was reading over some of the suggested resources for this activity & one of them suggested that a good way to start drafting a teaching statement was to read over your own reflections & underscore the themes & ideas that appear more than once. I couldn't help noticing how often the word "like" appeared in your comment above. Certainly (for us lucky ones at least) a big reason why we teach is because we just plain find it so enjoyable!!! 

Now, as to WHY we like it so much .... that's a 'way deeper question. Maybe it doesn't need an answer?