Taking teaching into the next level

Personally, I think that by creating, sharing and applying knowledge to a student forum are fundamental to teach. But, one of the element secrets to take teaching into the next level is understand and take advantage of diversity in all senses.

Katherine W. Philips states “This is how diversity works: by promoting hard work and creativity; by encouraging the consideration of alternatives even before any interpersonal interaction takes place”.

Diversity of learners emphasizes the ideal that teachers can facilitate the learning process in diverse types of learners. To recognize and respect individuals is fundamental, as the President of Virginia Tech “Tim Sands” mentioned in a special statement on October 2017, which also is a strong principle of the institution.

Moreover, for teachers and professors, diversity needs to be taken as a key strategy, because it allows making better decisions as group due to the different backgrounds and multiple lived perceptions. The inclusion of different backgrounds bring as consequence new information, different perspectives which enrich the information. Simply interacting with individuals who are different forces creativity and innovation.

Finally, as professors we need to facilitate clear messages, Shankar Vedantam emphasized that “The conscious messages that we give as being the most powerful education that we can give”.

About the author,

Sofia Rincon Gallardo Patino, have an obsession with coffee and almond milk.

Understanding the How

One of the greatest impacts that people can have in life is through education. It plays a vital role shaping tomorrows leaders and future professionals, as consequence teaching cannot be taken lightly. Under this scope, it is critical to develop an appropriate teaching approach due to the monumental effect that professors might have on students’ life.

In my attempting and exploration to answer the How of my last post, I ended creating my personalized teaching model, which I named “CAR” (create, acknowledge and remember). The idea of this model was to identify the key aspects to determine my own teaching style.

 

CAR

As a teacher:

With the students:

CREATE -Comfortableness

-Plan A, B, C and D

-Engagement

-Interest

-Boundaries

ACKNOWLEDGE -Role: guide and facilitate

-Refine and update

-Efforts

-Achievements

REMEMBER -Cards on the table

-PEE

-Variety

-Skills

 

 

Create:

As teacher, it is critical to create comfortableness with what we are teaching. This is referred to the preparation and familiarity with the topic. In addition, the creation of a plan B, C and D can help to be flexible. Sometimes, even under a great pacification, and as most as we want to have things under control, things happen and we must be prepared. It is critical to kill the panic, breath, chill out, and let the class take its own course.

With students, the creation of engagement and interest on the class can change the whole experience for both parties. Also, the creation of boundaries are the guidelines to set expectations, and responsibilities form both sides.

 

Acknowledge:

As teacher, is fundamental to acknowledge that the role is to facilitate and guide the process of learning. The need to refine and update, this two will help to enhance my teaching methods and change what is not working to create a smooth teach-learn process.

With students, to acknowledge their efforts and achievement to maintain the class motivated.

 

Remember:

As teacher, remembering to put all the rules and cards on the table at the beginning of the course. Furthermore, let the students decide and be part of the game. Which means that students can get involved in the process by suggesting, changing and proposing. Furthermore, it is crucial to always be aware of the “PPE” of teaching (passion, preparation and energy).

With students, that by nature a human being is unique and different. So, there will be a notable variation among students, with different skills and backgrounds. This last, underlined the need to incorporate different methods to ensure that everybody has an opportunity to learn and develop the desire skills.

 

Finally, to have an accurate answer of the How: Just do it!

It might sound as a Nike advertisement, but it is completely true. I would never know if the model described above is effective unless I try it.

 

About the author,

Sofia Rincon Gallardo Patino, hate to wash dishes and do her laundry.

What, Why… ok! but How?

Since the beginning of the GEDI course, we have learned several pedagogical practices to apply as current TA’s or for our future carriers. Form my personal experience, answering the questions What?, Why?, and How? have helped me to understand different concepts and apply theories into real life practices (personal and profesional).

So far, I have enough materials to start answering the questions for the What and Why pedagogical science have the potential to transform educational teaching practices.  In this blog I will share some found responses during the past 5 weeks, and leave open other questions with the purpose to find more answers.

What and Why?:

(To apply)

  • Try over and over again till you achieve the objective (Baby Gorge video) to break the barriers of the unkown.
  • Facilitate experiential learning to support students in applying their knowledge and conceptual understanding to real-world problems and situations.
  • Use innovative tools to engage the imagination, such as: digital sources, social media, blogs, twitter, videos, etc. to engage.
  • Promote curiosity, practices related to noticing new things and drawing distinction, new ideas, to encourage mindful and avoid mindless learning, among students.
  • Avoid incentives when rules are not clear or there are not a single solution or clear tsk . On the contrary, motivate to achieve autonomy on learning, promote desire of getting better and better to reach mastery, and seed purpose to for something larger.
  • Think about the grading system and evade diminishing student’s interest, preference of the easiest tasks and low quality thinking, that often performances are to reach a certain grade (extrinsic). Contrarily, motivate desire to learn for its own sake (intrinsic).

How?:

(To get it done)

The hands-on moment! Answering to this will help to apply theories and concepts in authentic circumstances. Literature suggests some answers, However I still have doubts under this question.

  • How to defeat the grading system? How to assess students performance being fair? How to ensure the desired level of knowledge among the students? How to create the right environment to impulse students creativity and desire to learn for its own sake?

Any thoughts????

About the Author

Sofia Rincon Gallardo Patino, is the secretary of the LAIGSA (Latina American and Iberic Graduate Students Association) organization at Virginia Tech. 

 

Wake-up headaches??

Back to the time when pursuing my Master’s degree, a professor shared a very short-story that will be hardly to forget, this helped me to understand the definition of “Ecological Fallacy”.

The story is about a Ph.D. student that was analyzing data from a project that he was unfamiliar with, he received the data base and the main research question: What factors are involved with morning headaches?. From all the variables that he was analyzing, he found a very strong and statistically significant association (p<0.001) between variable “Z” (shoes) and the outcome (headaches). After the relevant result, he quickly went with his advisor to give him the good news. But what he did not realize were all the factors behind the variable. At the end, he “discovered” that 96% of the participants of the study who had a woke-up headache slept with shoes. So, should we all sleep without shoes to avoid wake-up headaches?

What the student never asked was the Why? And the why had a simple answer: one common characteristic among the participants that fitted with his “discovery”, all of them had more than five glasses of alcohol before going to sleep.

 

This is a typical example, where following the instructions, in this case protocol and statistical analysis, is not enough. The Ph.D. student was doing his task without motivation, passion and he just found an isolated fact due to his automatic pilot behavior and mindless approach.

“We are poorly served by mindless learning”. Ellen J. Langer

What would have happened with this student with a bit more engagement or curiosity? Perhaps, he would have been aware of more than one perspective to build his conclusion. Well, at least his experience helped me, to be more conscious and to become as mindfulness as I can. Moreover, this story is the how of my understanding of “EcologicalFallacy”.

Practicing mindfulness as students or professors might have positive results such as a decrease in implicit biases (as the student on the story). Educators have a big role to engage students and to facilitate curiosity. Personally, I think that education is not a mechanical system and, as professors we have the challenge and responsibility to create the environment, provide the accurate tools to develop critical thinkers.

The evidence is robust about how environments have the power to change experiences and can influence actions, perceptions and decisions. A theory that have helped to build healthy environments and to design policies is the “Nudge” theory, which can provide a different perspective of how environments are a key factor to influence an outcome.

 

About the Author

Sofia Rincon Gallardo Patino, is a Mexican dietitian and a public health researcher.

Black or White? 

Nowadays, we live in a world full of information that involves innovation, new technologies, sources and techniques; emerging so fast, that sometimes can be overwhelming. Constantly, I feel intrigue and confusion about which is the right method to apply. Often, questioning my self among all the universe of sources, which one should I use?  Moreover, I feel big pressure to take advantage of technology, to be creative and adapt to the “digital era” that we are facing.

What I have learned, is that perfection does not exist. Mentioned that, there are no right or bad way to do things. Each person is different, so, maybe someone can adapt quicker to technology, or maybe someone have better creative skills and can innovate easily. It is a fact that we are living a new culture of learning and it is revolutionizing the way to do it. In order to survive, the real challenge is to be aware of your own skills, talents, and detect the best fit for yourself.

Gamification, blogging, lectures, tests, experiences and such, are just few of the tools and sources that can be used to encourage the brain to absorbe information and keep the motivation and interest to learn. However, as professors our role is to use them smartly to promote engagement among our learners.

With teaching and learning there are no black or white answers. Invest wisely your time and find your own way (innovate), and take advantage of your own skills to be part of the learning revolution.

About the Author

Sofia Rincon Gallardo Patino, is a foodie, traveler collector and love outdoors sports.

Teach to learn & Learn to teach 

 

Education is a continuous process that involves teaching and learning. Professors are in charge of educate students at different levels by teaching to learn. In addition, a broadly view of human capacity is crucial for the development of professional contributors to our society is needed.

Infinite teaching and learning materials and methods have emerged during the last centuries.  Now a days, digital media has become one of the most innovative and powerful tools that can  impact students, teachers, professors and other academic actors. Internet make accesible all kind of valuable topics, communication channels, and networks.

Using technology and nontraditional materials (blogs, twitter, video clips) to teach is controversial. First, the steady flow of million of users can question the quality of content that can be reached. Second,  the constant updates, variety of versions, softwares, devices and such makes it a real challenge for some professors with lacking skills of technological literacy. However, these tools engage, builds and create new networks that can be use to improve the educational process. As future professiorates, it is critical to learn and adapt ourselves to new technologies. Being aware of what is going around, and being up to date to be sure that we are not falling behind is part of the “Learn to teach” process.

One concept very simple but powerful that can inspire use is: “individuals best adapted to their environments are more likely to survive“.

Finally, “Teach to learn & Learn to teach is a continuous cycle that needs to include the adaptation of new tools such as technology. This approach might help us to contribute to the development of future professionals with human capacity.

About the Author

Sofia Rincon Gallardo Patino, is a Graduate Research Assistant at the Human Nutrition, Foods and Exercise department of Virginia Tech. 

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