Tuesday, 25 July 2017

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Student Engagement Techniques- Artifacts

Here is a link to a student engagement technique i created a digital project on.


Reflecting on my PIDP Courses

Looking back on all the PIDP course I have taken i always go back to the first one I took, Instructors Skills workshop. I was so green in teaching that I sat absolutely quiet in the back of the class listening to all this amazing and terrifying knowledge the instructor was delivering.

I have always been fearful of standing in front of people and speaking. I could never do it in highschool and would crumble at any given chance. yet here I was pursuing a career that would have me constantly in front of people speaking. Funny thing is I have grown to enjoy it. I actually get a bit of a kick out of it. The knowledge that was given to me in those few lessons changed everything for me.

Another course I really enjoyed was professional practices. The Ethical Dilemmas and working with students in troubling circumstances has open my eyes to how to I should be approaching situations and what language and stance I should bring with me to the classroom. Having an instructor as accepting and knowledgeable as Alison really has helped in my learning in these course.

I have learnt to look at situations from an unbiased viewpoint, checking to see if there are other reasons a student may be resistant to a class or having trouble with learning. I definitely feel more equipped to take on future classes and look forward to pulling out some new tricks to engage my students and guide them successfully through to their new careers.

Below you can find my Feedback Strategy Project. I had fun designing this and thinking though the questions I wouldn want to know about my teaching style and the things my students would want to know that I am not teaching them. Feel free to download this file and adapt it to your classroom.

Professional Ethics Case Study

Here is the scenario posed on:
Red Orbit. (2007 , August) . Teachers’ Ethical Dilemmas: What Would You Do? . Retrieved from

"Petty Behavior
Ms. Garcia and Ms. Ming are both sixth-grade English teachers. Ms. Garcia, a new teacher at the school, has additional certification in gifted education. Ms. Ming has been a certified English teacher for a number of years. Ms. Ming has been overheard making negative comments about Ms. Garcia's teaching ability and about Ms. Garcia personally in the faculty lounge. Mr. Daniels, the sixth-grade history teacher, has heard Ms. Ming making negative comments about Ms. Garcia on more than one occasion and he knows that these comments are false. He also knows that Ms. Ming has been angry that Ms. Garcia was asked to teach the advanced English class. This is a class Ms. Ming had expressed a desire to teach. He believes this contributes to her negativity toward Ms. Garcia. What should he do? What would you do?"
I am sure we have all heard one something like this before. What would I do?

It is hard sometimes to step back from a conversation that has an ethical issue due to just not wanting to involve yourself. It could impact your own job or relationship with your fellow instructors, however, is someone else's misery worth it? Ms. Ming is clearly in the wrong here. Talking behind peoples back in a negative way is unacceptable as every deserves the chance to stand up for themselves. Ms. Ming is rightfully upset about losing out on the teaching gig, she may be more qualified and might deserve it more but the way she should go about it is taking it up with the heads of the school or program rather than gossiping to instructors that have no way to change it.

If I were in Mr. Daniels shoes I would have done the same. Take a complaint to the people that can do something about it. He could easily have fallen into the same trap and started gossip about Ms. Ming. A vicious circle would have started which could have resulted in it impacting many jobs and relationships.

To be honest I am not sure what our procedures manual says about situations like these. There are so many ethical dilemma scenarios it's hard to say what one would do in all of them.

Be well read (as I should be and will follow up on the ethics manual) and do the ethical right thing.

Here is a handy dandy guide to whistleblowing in the workplace. Enjoy

The Resistant Learner

We have most probably all come across a resistant learner in our classrooms. I have and it damn near burnt me out.

I teach an Intro to Digital Arts class to ceramics and jewelry makers. These are students that love the art of hand craftsmanship and don't use computers any time other than to check facebook.
For most students it is a rather an eye opener in a good way. They learn about taking their sketches and digitizing them, then using those files to run laser cutters and vinyl cutter to create art.
I have had some amazing and unique pieces come from my students.

Then there are the resistors. The ones that hate even seeing the screen turn on in the mornings. they would rather be covered from fingers to neck in wet clay then be dragged through a lesson on photoshop. I had one student who just couldn't deal with it emotionally, he would roll his eyes and give loud sighs throughout the lesson. I spent almost 50% of the lesson figuratively holding his hand.

He walked out my lesson numerous times with frustration at the mouse or the pen tool. He'd always come back but I could see it just wasn't clicking. So, i made a conscious effort to try to inspire this student into being more engaged. I collected tons of reference images that I thought would appeal to him. I changed up a few lessons to cater more to thing that he would be able to do. Alas, it was a failure. I could not break through that wall and it eventually left me burnt out and incredibly disappointed in myself for not being a better teacher.

Reading through chapters 16 and 17 of Brookfield’s, The skillful teachers showed me that I was not alone in this situation and even though we try hard to reach out to that students. Sometimes they just don't want to learn and that is that.

He goes on to talk about involving past students who had trouble in that class and went on to be successful in their projects. We want to also let the students know that I am not trying to change them into some digital art junkie but merely opening another door to a world of other possibilities.

In the end hopefully clarity and little patience will lead both student and teacher on a path to resistance free learning.

Sunday, 16 July 2017


“Class based conflict develops among African American students attending GED programs “between students who see themselves as members of the hip hop culture and those that do not.” Guy,  2002,  (p52)

Reading through Brookfield’s chapters in racism and diversity I came across the above quote. I want to reflect on this specifically because it as been an interesting personal transition for me moving to Canada from South Africa and experiencing a whole new culture that I needed to adapt to.

I grew up in Johannesburg, South Africa and attended High school during the end of apartheid in 1991. I look back on those days in horror now as I realize how racist everyone was. My Grandparents were pretty bad and that affected my parents, which in turn trickled down to my brother and I as kids. We didn’t know it but that is how we were raised.
I left South Africa when I was 18 and went backpacking around the world. I went to some of the poorest places on this planet and experienced things that changed me life. I became a whole lot more excepting of cultures, colours and beliefs.

I eventually immigrated to Canada and found myself on the other side of the line. I became an immigrant with an accent, fighting to get a job alongside Canadians.

I like to hold on to those memories of my upbringing and travels and immigration as they serve as reminders to be open and accepting to diversity within my classroom.

This past year was probably my most diverse group of students. I’ll tell you a little bit about some of the observations I made.
We had to Korean students who were absolutely wonderful students. In my Professional Practices class, many of the assignments required the students to present in front of their fellow classmates. Every time these students presented they spoke so quietly it was almost inaudible. After each class I would give feedback and ask that they speak louder, however, the next presentation it was quiet again. This happened over and over until one day those students approached me after class and explained why they spoke so quietly. It came down to being a cultural thing, in their town it was considered rude to speak loudly. It was truly difficult for them to break out of a cultural norm and adjust their volume. This is such a stark contrast from when I grew up in Africa. Indigenous African ladies speak very loudly. You will often see a couple ladies sitting together under a tree almost yelling at each other. In the Zulu culture it is considered devious to speak quietly as others will think you are speaking about them.

We had an East Indian student who would get docked marks every assignment for using images in his art without permission from the original photographer. He told me that where he came from in India it was totally acceptable to take any image off the Internet and use it freely for any purpose. There were no repercussions for plagiarism in school if you copied text from somewhere else. We had to have some major changes in class to update students on what was allowed and not allowed regarding copyrighted work. 

Now I stop myself before I jump to conclusions in class. There are often times other reasons for a student's behavior that we might not notice.

Having all these personal experiences and in class experiences has really grasp what I can and can’t say in class and also how to guide my students into what they can and can’t acceptably do or say. This goes for international students and Canadian students.

I’m proud of who I have become later in life. An accepting, open-minded person, who is willing to change to be more inclusive of everyone.

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

The power of the Alumni

I wanted to talk about motivation in the classroom. We have all come across the situations where one of our student shows a resistance to our teaching. Maybe it is the way we are delivering the materials or just that the topic may not interest the student or even that they student doesn't see the value in the class.
One of the most common career paths my Digital Arts student say they want is to be an Artist. That's all fine and dandy but what about the rest of the careers within the Digital Arts world. I see most of my students attention drop when I teach my professional practices course. The students would rather be painting in photoshop that learning how to start their business. They would rather be animating than discovering the intricacies of designing their personal business cards.

A lot of times the students just see you talking...telling them these details because you are paid to do so. One of the most engaging sections of that course, where i see them raise their eyes from their computers is when i get in Alumni guest speakers.
It makes such a difference to drive home a point when you have someone from that discipline who is making it our there in the world. Not just a teacher but a real Alumni Animator or Graphic Designer who is bring in the cash doing the work they went to school to learn.

We have had everyone from Animators, illustrators, game designers, feature film editors and gallery directors come speak. Not only is it fascinating to the students, it's a hell of a resource for me to. I am often taking down notes of their key points for future classes. It's improved my skills and the way I approach my classes.

So send those emails out and get the old alumni in. it makes a big difference.

My Blogs Creative Commons License- Attribution-NonCommercial

Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International   (CC BY-NC 4.0) This is a human-readable summary of (and not a substitute for) the  li...