As I finish up my last course in the PID program, I find myself reflecting on how far I have come as a learner and an educator! I remember the first course I took, Foundations of Learning. I took this course online, and was given 4 months to complete it. I had taken three weeks off of work and vowed to complete the entire thing in that time frame. Boy was I fooling myself! It took me over a week to figure out what the elusive MOODLE even was, let alone how to navigate through it! I completed the course 2 days before the deadline!
One of the most important things that I have learned, and a concept that has been evident in every course is assessment for learning. I had never really been exposed to this idea as a learner, therefore I hadn’t been using it as an instructor. When introduced to it in the Evaluation of Learning course, I immediately started including some little classroom assessment techniques in all of my courses and will continue to experiment with different ones every year. My favorite is still using the muddiest point, which is the very first one that I tried.
When I began as an instructor, I had no formal training, so I modeled what I saw around me. This was mostly lecture style in the classroom, and demonstrations in the clinic. As I stood at the front of the classroom, I was bored listening to myself, but didn’t know what to do about it! As I have taken different courses, I have learned different ways to actively involve my students in their learning. Much of this was not through the information that the courses have provided me, but by observing some of the amazing VCC instructors that I have had a pleasure meeting. Every single course that I have taken face to face has focused on active learning, putting the student in the driver seat to help direct learning, and fostering a safe and caring learning environment. I definitely have learned more from observing and, subsequently modeling the techniques of the instructors that I have had.
Lastly, I think the most important insight I can take away from this entire process is what it like to be an adult learner. When I did my post secondary education over 20 years ago, that is all I had to focus on. I had my parents paying the bills, I had my sister making my supper every night for me and I had an amazing network of family in the city where I went to college. This time around the landscape looks much different. I have a full time job, a husband, three active children and a decreased capacity to learn! I have had to learn to juggle all of these responsibilities in hopes that nothing in my life got neglected because of my education.
I now have a true understanding of my students who also have these types of responsibilities outside of college life. It has made me a more empathetic and caring instructor who truly appreciates the challenges that adult learners are facing!