The PIDP Program

In week 8 of the blog assignment, I am asked to reflect on the PIDP courses I have taken and what are the most important things that I have learned. I have taken 6 courses so far, “Instructional Strategies” is left and the Capstone. Instead of reflecting on each course, I prefer to look at the experience as a whole.

I came to the program with zero experience in teaching. On the other hand, I have much experience as a student. I have been one most of my life. It has been very interesting to have a peek on the other side of the curtain and be able, for the first time, to understand why some courses work better than others. Of course, one can always finish a course with a feeling that “they did not learn anything”, or “that it was a waste of time”. Or “this was a great course” or ” I learned so much”.  But I never had the knowledge to understand why. Now I do…

My big “Take aways” so far:

  • I do not consider myself a teacher in the traditional sense. I am working with adults and it would presumptuous of me to think that I know more than they do. I might know more about my subject of expertise, but certainly not of life in general. Instead, I consider myself a facilitator of learning, a knowledge broker, a framework provider. My role is to use my expertise to provide a framework and an environment from which my students can engage, learn and grow.
  • Adults will learn when they are motivated to do so, when the content is relevant to themselves and their lives.  They come to the classroom with a lifetime of knowledge and experience and will use that lens to filter what is presented to them. Learning happens as a building block, as an additional layer to what they already know. Resistance happens when the layer has to be replaced. The classroom has to be a safe environment where those changes can take place.
  • Neuroscience is a tool that we can use to enhance learning. Understanding how learning happens is beneficial in thinking about how content should be presented. Suboptimal learning conditions ( fatigue, content overload, hunger, thirst..) is like using a dull knife in the kitchen. It will work, but not very well… Better get sharpening!
  • Teaching is a science and an art… I am learning many great skills like curriculum development, assessment techniques, delivery of instruction, but I also have to be able to read my classroom and adapt to changing conditions. It will be a lifelong process and I am looking forward to it.

My thinking has not changed as much as it has been enlightened. I had feelings about things that were wrong with higher education, but I was not sure what they were. In a sense, my thinking has changed about the teacher that I want to be and that I believe to be effective. I thought that I just needed to be an expert in my field. Now I know that I want to be that and so much more.

Knowing what I have learned in the PIDP program, every time that I teach a class, I will focus on student engagement. How can my students engage with the content? How can I make it relevant to them?


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