I continue to expand my experience in teaching. For the past 13 years I have been teaching at BCIT in the Bachelors of Technology degree, in Management of Technology. This past summer I taught somewhat younger students in the introductory International Business course for the School of Business and this past fall I began teaching two sections of an introductory course in Marketing at Kwantlen Polytechnic University.
I know that I am enjoying instructing very much. With the PID I am learning the tools and techniques to make me even more effective in the classroom. In the past two years I have taught diverse age groups. I usually teach older students at BCIT (35-55 years old, I would say) in the B Tech program; my Business students were perhaps a decade younger. Meanwhile, my students at KPU just completed high school and are experiencing the joys and struggles of a first year at University.
Teaching diverse age groups has been interesting, challenging, hilarious and arresting too. I admire my students for taking on the challenges of learning, engaging in a degree program, learning about diversity, freedoms and responsibility as well. Oftentimes they do this, while also learning another language (English). At every age and on every burrowed frown I see effort, focus, questioning, a little bit (or more) of anxiety. And with each class I learn more empathy, and more about my own use of power as an instructor.
So as I plan to continue developing my experience and breadth of teaching, I focus on staying on top of my skills, keep up with reading blogs and journal articles and sharpen my skills. I usually set aside about 30 minutes each day to keep on top of what is new in my favourite teaching blogs. As of this year (coinciding with taking on the PID) I have become a regular reflective practitioner and jot down a few notes during, and most often after, each class. I note in my little book what techniques I tried, what went well, what went less well, what conversations I had during the break with which students.
I plan to keep sharpening my skills by attending conferences in Vancouver, and also attending refresher courses at any of the institutions where I currently teach. I am also reaching out to fellow instructors (at all levels) among my friends, and have formed friendships with fellow students in the PID program. I am hoping to maintain contact with my fellow PID students as well as my instructors once I complete the program later this year – hopefully by joining a book club or keeping in contact via emails, coffees and visits.
I have been quietly assembling a portfolio of evaluations, various feedback (including from the PID) as well as my own completed assignments that I want to showcase when meeting with program directors of other universities. This portfolio will serve me well as I seek out new opportunities inside and outside of BC.
I have been teaching for a long time, from speaking to classes as a guest lecturer during the dotcom days of the late 90s, to carrying a full load of classes now. But I still keep a zen beginner’s mind – being open to learning new skills, new techniques, trying something out – while sharpening my expert mind – reaching into research and into my logs from previous classes. I began as a self-directed teacher. I will continue being so, after I graduate; and become stronger thanks to the tools, techniques and encouragement that I received during this diploma program.
Where will I go from here? In five years I would like to be teaching in Vancouver, yes, but also in other cities and other universities. It would be good to have a ‘home base’ with a full time career as an instructor in one of the Universities in the Lower Mainland, but I would also like to consult on the side (to keep my skills current) and also teach intensive graduate courses in Europe. Perhaps, once I complete my doctorate, this option will become available to me. I know that I am already preparing my portfolio, reviewing and updating my teaching and my consulting resumés, and networking towards this goal.