Jan 25
Practice Makes Progress

​We do it every day and, still, we're not perfect at it. Well, at least, I'm not perfect at being an instructor yet. But what I really like about the work of teaching students at the college level is exactly that: I'm learning every day how to do my job better. Perfection is fantasy, so my eye is on continual progress instead.

Practice Makes Progress.jpgI like to think of instructors' work as ongoing and never-ending professional development in real time: We deliver the lesson. We assess how effective our plan was. We revise it. We do it again. And so on... Our learning is practical, in real time, and the rewards are tangible, when we're willing to keep practicing in order to keep making progress in our craft.

Sometimes, it's as simple as asking a colleague for feedback on a new assignment I've developed. Sometimes, it's more complicated and involves me asking a peer if I can watch how they deliver a lesson I'm not yet fully confident delivering myself. I have gained a lot from this particular method of learning my craft; for example, I still use the approach and the activities for teaching about conflict management that I learned by watching Teresa Menzies deliver that module to her students.

For me, teaching is not a solo act. For me, it takes a village to get a lesson delivered, and my peers are my village neighbours. I rely on them to be willing to work with me as I continue to make progress in my practice.

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What things, big or small, do you do to continue making progress in your teaching practice? Sign in above, then comment below to join the conversation.

Comments

Thanks to you all for the w...

Thanks to you all for the work you put into this blog. Re: topic, I would just say that I have yet to come across one of my lessons or courses that are 'done.' Perfection is not a destination but a path of improvement.
Picture: Brian Harrison
  • Brian Harrison
 on 1/25/2019 8:45 AM

That's a great quote! Thank...

That's a great quote! Thanks for sharing!
I like observing my peers teach or taking a look at how they design their Learn courses.
Picture Placeholder: Sherry L Seymour
  • Sherry L Seymour
 on 1/25/2019 9:10 AM

Learning from our peers is ...

Learning from our peers is an excellent idea. I always gain so much from collaborative discussions with my colleagues about how they approach a concept in the ECE classes. Bringing personal experiences into classes lends to rich discussions with learners, this is something that I enjoy and share with my peers. I am learning a lot from the newer instructors in our department. They share what they enjoyed about their higher ed experiences and are now incorporating those practices into their classes. Smart!
Picture Placeholder: Ruth Lindsey-Armstrong
  • Ruth Lindsey-Armstrong
 on 1/25/2019 9:20 AM

Still reading this blog! Ke...

Still reading this blog! Keep up the great work!
Picture Placeholder: Andrew Warren
  • Andrew Warren
 on 1/25/2019 10:18 AM

It is definitely true that ...

It is definitely true that our lessons and courses are continuous iterations, and our colleagues are the most valuable resource we have.

On an individual level, I started a practice of improving course outlines, lessons, assignments, etc. for the next year as soon as I had finished them. It was a good way to remember what worked and what didn't, and I felt like my improvements were more thoughtful and less a shot in the dark. The best part? I loved past me when future me was ready for them in a course!
Picture Placeholder: Jayne M Geisel
  • Jayne M Geisel
 on 1/25/2019 10:47 AM

As Amanda knows, I'm all ab...

As Amanda knows, I'm all about running stuff by my colleagues - she has the (mis)fortune to sit in the office next to mine and often gets the brunt of my sometimes-wild ideas!

I also ask my students a lot of questions about what they liked and didn't like about activities and assignments. Sometimes I do it in a formal way, like including something about it in a reflective assignment. When I do that, if we have a mark associated with it, I make it very clear that I'm not judging their opinion, only their ability to justify it. Most often it's informal when we do a debrief after an in-class activity.

One thing that I started doing last term that I've found really valuable was set a specific time every week that is devoted just to research and development. I set aside two hours per week (this term that's Tuesdays from 2-4PM) that I use to catch up on reading blogs, listening to education-related podcasts, and fleshing out ideas that I've jotted down throughout the week. I treat this time slot like a class; I can't work on other class prep, I can't mark assignments, and I avoid scheduling meetings. Doing has enforced the importance of that development time for me and made it a habit. I also feel like this gives me permission to work on those wilder ideas guilt-free, because I've scheduled it in and I don't feel like I'm taking time away from my current classes and students.
Picture Placeholder: Jocelyne Olson
  • Jocelyne Olson
 on 1/25/2019 11:30 AM

My sister in law teaches pi...

My sister in law teaches piano lessons out of their home. Over the holidays she bought a beautiful sign that says "Practice makes Progress" and hung it above the piano to encourage her students. It encouraged me too because the more familiar saying, "Practice makes Perfect" is so intimidating.

When Amanda and I began this blog, we were intentional that its focus be on good teaching. Not perfection, not even excellence, not good enough - but good. And indeed, good teaching includes making progress.

Thanks to those who read and comment on the blog. From you, I am making progress...
Picture Placeholder: Janine Carmichael
  • Janine Carmichael
 on 1/25/2019 1:01 PM

I agree and add that in all...

I agree and add that in all training scenarios, "Practice makes Practice" as well! 

As teachers, retreating to our silos can be so easy that we forget why we encourage our students to participate and engage with each other.       

Thank you for the reminder.
Picture Placeholder: Kevin Boon
  • Kevin Boon
 on 1/31/2019 11:45 AM

Great post and great commen...

Great post and great comments. It is wonderful to hear about the ways that instructors support each other in continuously improving the student experience. Having a colleague sit in on a lesson is setting a great example for students in using your village to make progress in your profession.
Picture Placeholder: Nadine Ogborn
  • Nadine Ogborn
 on 2/4/2019 3:13 PM