I made this for fun as part of an #ExtendmOOC Stretch…creating my teaching philosophy in a bun (why a bun is a question I still have but I’m learning to live with ignorance😊)

…and someone was kind enough to ask me to elaborate. I was happy to because it gave me an opportunity to articulate what I do mean. 

  • Open classrooms for me is about doors being open, employing #OER, being available to students (I have off campus and extended office hours, as well as virtual meeting options), Making class handouts and slides available online for students who miss class.
  • Student agency is giving choice for assignments and how students achieve & demonstrate learning objectives. 
  • Self Assessment… I have students assess their own writing and performance and then confer with students if there are big discrepancies
  • Creativity – whatever I can do to be creative in class and for assignments. Creating podcasts, video, art, using twitter for discussion, alternate assessments that include creative license (poetry, screenplays, comic books, movies, paintings…)
  • Student Voice… striving to capture what’s important to them and encourage their authentic voice to emerge. Making their ideas centre stage. Listening to what they have to say and recognizing publicly the value in their ideas.
Teacher for Learning – Application for module 1 badge 

Teacher for Learning – Application for module 1 badge 

Identified a concept that is often misunderstood in my discipline and created an analogy to help make sense of it (Prior knowledge)

Created a concept map of a syllabus for a course I teach (Organization)

Practiced my note taking skills (Organization)

  • Explanation in discussion board re Paper and Cornel system  

Brainstormed a list of “What’s in it for me?” from a student perspective (Motivation)

Identified a concept in my discipline that is like driving a car and specified the component skills that are required to master this concept of skill (Mastery)

  • I should have thought of this in  y original post. Sometimes you drive an old Westfalia camper van across Labrador and citation is much much tougher than imagined 😊)

Created an introductory activity, connected to my discipline, to get to know my learners (Climate)

Found a nugget and made it as meaningful as possible (Metacognition)l

Articulated a metaphor to describe my teaching philosophy (Culminating Activity)

  • Explanation on discussion board 

Misunderstood: Bricks in a Wall

This is part of the #ExtendMooc I’m participating in with e-campus Ontario. 

Sometimes I think students believe I make them incorporate evidence and cite it to torture them.

Not true.

The analogy I use is to explain that building on other people’s experiences/breakthroughs is like building blocks – and that the writer’s job is like the cement between the bricks of an idea, making connections, pulling it together, and adding layers of depth and understanding. 

Oh, and just for fun, I play a little Pink Floyd

Admirals Don’t Fly 

I’ve been thinking about leadership recently. This came about in part because I’ve been working with the sea cadets and am considering reactivating my commission to serve as an officer again with the reserves. And that, in part, is due to my missing having a leadership role. It’s something I always loved about my military officer training and the jobs I had with maritime command and fleet school.

I love my job….I mean really love it. And I enjoy being on the college Board of Governors which temporarily at least fulfills that leadership interest I have. But I’m a professor – not a coordinator, not a manager – and was feeling a little like I didn’t have a leadership role within the organization. 

I might have sailed on that way indefinitely, but in the past few years a few things have happened.

  1. A senior administrator I trust and respect told me she thought I’d be a great Dean or Associate Dean. 
  2. A couple of management roles came up and I was tapped by someone else in the organization to see if I’d be interested.
  3. I began to be more aware of how much I value good leadership, and found myself thinking about the role of a leader.

So these potential opportunities were of interest. But I realized something.

I don’t want to leave the classroom. 

Musing about this on Twitter maybe a year ago, I had an epiphany. I’d been watching one of the rebooted Star Trek movies with the kids, and at one point, Captain Kirk is offered an Admiralty (yeah, that’s not how it works IRL). He says-and the quote resonated with me-

Admirals don’t fly, do they?

No they don’t. 

Kirk turned it down. 

I stayed in the classroom. 

I won’t rule anything out for the future. But it did make me start considering leadership and how it doesn’t have to be big. Leadership can be in the small things: taking initiative, helping someone, finding a new way to be efficient, effective, creative. 

And so I determined to start the new year reflecting deliberately on leadership. Not the grandiose kind. But the small everyday kind that we can all use in our jobs. I don’t pretend to be an expert, but it’s a topic that I’m interested in. 

My reflections will be more specific to the classroom I expect, but I want to explore and think about how I can apply leadership everyday.

Without leaving the job I love. 



Between doing work over the holidays…and not 

Between feeling like I’m ahead…and knowing I’m really behind

Between feeling obliged to prepping 5 courses during a short winter break…and recognizing the untenable nature of doing so 

It is possible to be both a good educator, a “count on me” employee who “gets things done”…and be a good parent, mom, wife. But not always simultaneously. 

And right now, in this moment, I’m choosing Option 2.

Fostering Intercultural Relationships

Fostering Intercultural Relationships

The Cornwall campus of St. Lawrence College currently has six visiting scholars from China. Here to shadow and engage with our Supply Change Management team, the scholars – who teach in various capacities at Qingdao Harber Vocational and Technology College in Qingdao, Shandong (link to wikipedia as the english translation of their web page is out of date) – have been fascinated by our teaching methods and styles, and we have had some wonderful discussions about pedagogy and curriculum.

I say wonderful, but there have been challenges. I have been so impressed with how well we have all communicated despite a language barrier. The kudos is all on their side as their English skills are much better than our Mandarin, and so we go on in a broken dance that though imperfect, works.

For my part, I have enjoyed having them in my classes. I don’t teach in the Supply Chain Management program, but I do teach on their afternoons off, so Friday often finds them in my Communications and/or Ethics class. I strive for an active classroom, so they join right in, participating in whatever the activity is, and asking me questions about our process and practices when there are lulls.

chinesescholars comm class

They are here for 12 weeks, and much of the responsibility for what they do outside of college lies with our remarkable Supply Chain faculty and our administrative staff who have arranged a number of events (Pumpkinferno at Upper Canada Village; a boat cruise in Brockville, hikes with some other faculty members, trips to Ottawa and Montreal). I live in town and have a minivan, so I offered to drive them to the Dean’s house for Thanksgiving, but felt I ought to make more of an effort, so last weekend I invited them to my house.

I wasn’t sure how it would work out. My husband – though a great conversationalist – is a bit of an introvert (as are we all), and I wasn’t certain what we would talk about. So I invited my kids and all the kids who hang out at my house already to come for the evening to help entertain.

And we carved pumpkins.

It was a huge success. The kids – young adults, some of whom are at the college – interacted with the scholars*, and we discussed traditions, and Chinese poetry. And in a touching gesture, Ping Wang carved this for me: it is the Chinese symbol representing a warm, comfortable, happy home.

pumpkin happy

What I learned: That fostering intercultural relationships is as easy as sharing a meal, sharing ideas, allowing people to feel – in some small way -like they belong.

*Scholars – I’m not quite sure why this is the term we use. It’s how we were introduced to them – the visiting scholars from China – and the term stuck.

This is Post #5 in the #9x9x25 Ontario Extend Challenge. Follow along!

My other posts are:



Gradeless – part 2

Gradeless – part 2

My last post was about going gradeless for part of a communications class. The experience was rewarding. Needs tweaking, but valuable. 

Here are some further thoughts on the process and results:

1. Having students self-assess does not mean less work. Not for me; certainly not for students. There were complaints – it’s far easier to just accept the mark given than have to go through own work and identify strengths and weaknesses. 

2. Students need support. This is time consuming, but critical. Unused to the process, students aren’t always sure where to start. Practicing self-assessment on shorter paragraphs grows confidence and expectations shift from what they think I expect to their own expectations. This is a process, but well worth it. Not all students made it to this point, but those that did saw the value in it.

3. Their final self assessment consisted of a chart where I checkmarked every assignment submitted, and every in class activity completed by the individual student. Then using a rubric, students assessed for both effort (did they attend most classes, submit all assignments, ask for help as needed, etc.) and competency (did they feel confident in their ability to meet all the practiced course objectives – these were often specific ie: confidence in accurately paraphrasing and citing). They also wrote a paragraph giving themself a grade and justifying it. 

4. The most enlightening part for me was this week when I went through looking at their self-assessment in conjunction with their final submitted paper (which incorporated all the learning objectives we had practiced, and which they had assessed). It was so much more valuable than just a grade. I was able to identify the process each student went through. And more importantly saw their work through their own eyes. It took time, but I felt I got to understand the students better. 

5. And? The big question I’m always asked is how students do. Do they give themselves A’s? Rarely. Many of my strongest students – those who really saw the benefits of self-assessment – tended to under-estimate their abilities slightly, and I found myself increasing their mark slightly (B to B+ for example). Most students were pretty accurate, demonstrating that they’re aware of strengths and where they need to improve going forward. That’s something I’ve rarely seen in traditional professor-graded half term results.

Best of all… when there was no alignment between how students feel they are doing and what I see in their work (for my purposes, this was any time the grade differential was more than a full 10-15%. This was maybe for about 10 percent of students… and in most cases, the differential was around 20-25% which is significant!), I now KNOW this which I would not have before, and in all cases I’ve been able to instigate a conversation that I hope will help get to the heart of what is going on, and how to identify the gaps to promote success.