Students’ resistance to learning:
It seems like an odd thing to be faced with in a college setting but resistance to learning is a reality in every classroom. I naively thought that, if my students were going to pay thousands of dollars to take my course then they would be willing to learn, that’s not always the case. The vast majority of my students do want to learn but I have had a few experiences with ones who simply don’t and I was ill equipped to deal with it. Brookfield lays out some interesting options in the ‘Skillful Teacher’ that were helpful for me to hear. Fear of the unknown, general dislike of teachers, fear of looking foolish in public, these are all valid reasons to resit learning and being aware that these are some of the challenges that may be facing students is valuable. When faced with a resistant learner it is so easy to devote all your energy and resources to try to get them on board but it can be at the detriment of the other students. Where there is something for us to do as instructors to aid this person we should do it……but not at the detriment of the class as a whole, a balance has to be struck.
There are a many ethical dilemmas that we face as instructors and one that I was recently discussing with a friend was that of the ethics of grading. The question was raised to me, ‘Do you find it hard to fairly grade a student you dislike?’ my response was that I actually find it to be the opposite. Grading a project for a student that I don’t have an overly fond relationship with is far easier than grading one for a student who I ‘like or get along with.’ When it comes to grading the first situation, as long as I have set the academic standards and rubrics properly, the grading is just checking off boxes completed and the grade settles itself out. When grading a student who you ‘like,’ especially on a more subjective item, it becomes much harder to separate your personal bias for the individual and look only at the work that has been submitted. I read an article, WHATS FAIR AND UNFAIR? which deals with some of these ethical issues. the most surprising stat that I pulled out of the article was the realization that what one person sees as an ethical dilemma may not be for others. There are a few black and white issues that there is little debate on but the reality is that very few of those are the ones we struggle with.
Reflections on my PIDP:
3260 is my last PIDP course to finish of my diploma, it went by really fast and looking back there are many gems I have taken away from it. The one that sticks out to me foremost is ‘student motivation,’ primarily my role in that motivation as an instructor. The more time I spend with students the more I realize that well written tests, course outcomes, and assessment tools mean very little to students if you don’t actually show them you care about their success as individuals. All these building blocks that I mention make a strong class and aid in student success but students don’t really care, it is just assumed that it will be in place. The areas where we can make the largest impact is with building relationships with the students to encourage them to care, to value their time and the effort that they put in. My fondest memories of past instructors are of the ones who I created a connection with, the ones who called me out when I wasn’t doing the best I could be and the ones who had higher expectations of me than I had of myself. These sound like the easiest things to do but in reality I think they are the hardest.