Creative Thinking

Most metal fabrication shops manufacture parts or pieces that are directly made from certified drawings and require right brain/critical type thinking. There is logic in how pieces have to made to certain tolerances or standards, and typically, the sequencing of parts and how they are put together is a critical component in the process.

Where I experienced a dramatic difference is when I started working for the City of Vancouver. The requirements of the job not only included working on structural components, which is the critical thinking portion, I now had to learn, or use creative thinking on how to fix damaged parts of metal that came in the form of damaged bridge railings off of the Cambie Street Bridge. Another example would be to repair a damaged tailgate on a dump truck. In both of these examples it is more cost effective to repair rather than make new or replace. In metallurgy, there are not many ways to control how steel reacts once you heat it up to repair it. This is where the creative thinking comes in to play and most fabricators are not wired this way.

In my future teachings, my goal is to ensure I incorporate many examples of where creative thinking will be useful for students wherever they may work within the trade. Brainstorming sessions could be utilized in a demonstration where students discuss different ways of repairing bent metal, practice the skills, and then reflect in which ways they can improve on their techniques. Just some thoughts…


Expectancy Theory

Here are my thoughts on another take of expectancy theory in comparison to the other motivational theories:

There is a useful link between Vroom’s expectancy theory and Adam’s Equity theory of motivation: namely that people will also compare outcomes for themselves with others. Equity theory suggests that people will alter the level of effort they put in to make it fair compared to others according to their perceptions. So if we got the same raise this year, but I think you put in a lot less effort, this theory suggests that I would scale back the effort I put in.

Other theories don’t allow for the same degree of individuality between people. This model takes into account individual perceptions and thus personal histories, allowing a richness of response not obvious in Maslow or McClelland, who assume that people are essentially all the same.

Vroom’s expectancy theory could also be overlaid over another theory (e.g. Maslow). Maslow could be used to describe which outcomes people are motivated by and Vroom to describe whether they will act based upon their experience and expectations.

I also found this video on employee motivation: Expectancy Theory:


Classroom Management

In terms of classroom management, I found this site that suggests cell phones can be an advantage depending on what you are teaching. The examples listed include recording lectures, using cell phones to track instant answers , delivering materials to students via their cell phones, and a few other suggestions. Check it out…


Expectancy Theory of Motivation

I have been struggling with the topic of expectancy theory of motivation and how to relate this to motivating a class of metal fabricators, as there are not many rewards I can think of. However, one idea is the topic of guest speaker…

I think this is where I could be of benefit to my students. Having served many years in the trade, and then supervising different trades’ staff, I can share many of my own experiences with the students, and also serve as a role model for them. I might be able to utilize this role at the beginning of a lesson to ‘hook’ them into a particular module of the course to get them involved and motivated. I can maybe tell a story on how a specific skill can be applied in a real shop setting. Or I can relate how a particular safety incident impacted how I approach each and every day; that we shouldn’t ever be complacent in the workplace or take safety for granted.

Either way, by using a guest speaker or just using my own experiences, guest speakers go a long way to motivating students by enhancing perceived valence of course outcomes.


Creative Thinking

Here are my thoughts on how we can, as instructors, foster creativity and a safe learning environment in our classrooms:

  1. Build on a strong classroom community:
  • First day of class provide opportunities for students to form connections with other students.
  • Intro ice breaker: Ask what they have fabricated in the past and what one project they want to work on? This encourages reflection.
  • Promote regular open communication; students can share their thoughts, ideas, and feelings.
  1. Build self-esteem and self-efficacy
  • Students believe that they can achieve their goals and are important factors in their persistence in ongoing learning.
  • First Impression: Ensure the first meeting is a positive one.
  • Have a positive attitude: toward students.
  • Acknowledge them: Let them know that you are on their side to be successful.
  • Have patience! Some students have various learning barriers. Patience builds trust.
  • Values: Accept your students as they are and respect individual values.
  • Believe in your students and they will believe in themselves.
  • Constructive Feedback: Encourage students to give and receive feedback.
  1. Build on a strong classroom community:
  • First day of class provide opportunities for students to form connections with other students.
  • Intro ice breaker: Ask what they have fabricated in the past and what one project they want to work on? This encourages reflection.
  • Promote regular open communication; students can share their thoughts, ideas, and feelings.
  1. Build self-esteem and self-efficacy
  • Students believe that they can achieve their goals and are important factors in their persistence in ongoing learning.
  • First Impression: Ensure the first meeting is a positive one.
  • Have a positive attitude: toward students.
  • Acknowledge them: Let them know that you are on their side to be successful.
  • Have patience! Some students have various learning barriers. Patience builds trust.
  • Values: Accept your students as they are and respect individual values.
  • Believe in your students and they will believe in themselves.
  • Constructive Feedback: Encourage students to give and receive feedback.


 Expectancy Theory of Motivation

Has anyone had experiences with students losing motivation due to what they perceived unfair testing procedures?  How did you deal with it?

I believe one way to ensure students are not losing motivation when it comes to testing or quizzes in the classroom is validity and reliability within the testing process. In determining the different types of questions to include on your quiz, we have to ensure we are not asking the same question(s), but only in a different format. We also have to really study the different questions to ensure they were challenging enough for a student level of learning, and will still align and link with the content/objectives of your course.

By going through the process of evaluation we can begin to understand the importance of aligning the course outcomes with what is being taught and what is being assessed. The goal is for students to be able to demonstrate the outcomes, and the test questions need to reflect that the student has understood the content, and that we have been able to successfully communicate it to them.

  • The number of items on a particular topic on the exam reflects the time spent in class covering the topics.
  • Content validity is maintained for evaluation as information that is tested is discussed from the course objectives.
  • Process validity is maintained as the exam is constructed to ensure consistent results, test instructions are clear, the mark allocation is clearly marked, and adequate time is allotted to complete the test as per best practice standards.
  • Consequence validity is maintained as students know what to expect from the exam therefore anxiety is lowered. Students are given an exam breakdown beforehand, which includes the question types, how many questions, and the format.
  • It will also objectively measures the student’s knowledge, skill level and ability of the exam.
  • There is predictive reliability as the exam will give consistent results to the same student, giving the same performance multiple times.
  • Internal reliability is maintained when using multiple choice and matching questions which are consistent in difficulty.
  • Short answer questions all have a straight forward answer sheets ensuring inter-rater reliability (Fenwick et al, 2009, pp.28-30).

Fenwick, T., Parsons, J. (2009).  The art of evaluation. A resource for educators and

trainers. (2nd ed.). Toronto, Ontario: Thompson educational publishing inc.


Classroom Management

When it comes to classroom management, I feel one way to ensure your students are participating is by adding a mark of 10% to the overall course. The discussion at the beginning of your course would include participation, which means contributing on a regular basis and participation also means, no cell phone use unless it’s an emergency. I think if the tone is set at the beginning, of your course, students will work hard toward achieving the 10% participation mark.



Double Loop Thinking & Reflection: Summary

 Key Takeaways…

 Single loop means learning for the first time. When learning for the first time, you learn how it is done and practice to perfection over time. It is a repeated attempt to answer the same problem. It ignores the question of why the problem arose in the first place.

Double loop learning is when you have to re-adjust your previously learning information. This is when you take previously learned information and are forced to learn it again, but now in a different way. This is achieved by using feedback from past actions to question assumptions underlying current views. It seeks alternatives in order to dramatically improve things.

Triple loop learning takes place when we change our perceptions and, with them, the way we see ourselves. This is the truly transformational learning that gives way to a new aspect of ourselves, because that part of us is what we need to solve the challenge. It involves learning how to learn by reflecting on how we learn in the first place. This form of learning helps us to understand a great deal more about ourselves and others regarding beliefs and perceptions.

  • Single Loop– Farming.  “Doing things right”.
  • Managerial.  Convergence.  Execution.  Integrator.  “Followership”.  Stick with what’s proven. (Best practice / evidence-based).  Duplication.
  • Double Loop– Hunting.  “Doing the right things”.
  • Entrepreneurial.  Divergence.  Exploration.  Visionary.  Leadership.  Take a calculated risk into uncertainty / unknown.  Innovation.

There is strength in our diversity.

 Instead of asking students the golden question “why”; maybe we should ask why ask why?

 If you want students to employ double-loop thinking and question ‘why’, you have to be ready for that question to be applied to the authenticity of the delivery and content of the course.

 “After Action Reviews” – Analyzes actions taken to learn or improve future actions.

 The end result of double loop learning should be increased effectiveness in decision-making and better acceptance of our own failures and mistakes.

 Utilize double-loop learning and encourage students to think outside the box, get out of their comfort zones and attempt to utilize “new” skills discussed.

 “Radical Candor” – It improves your in-person, impromptu candid feedback by showing that you care personally, while directly challenging the person.

  • “What” — what do we do?
  • “How” — how do we do it?
  • “Why” — why do we do it?

Calculated risk – Risk leads to innovation, leads to greater success, and leads to longevity as a leader.

 Double sided tape – A supervisors’ cautious behaviour with the upper management.

 A mistake is a missed opportunity – A great example of double loop thinking is the idea of revising your thinking, behaviour, and learning based on feedback.

 Micromanaging mistakes – As educators we need to be somewhat improvisational.

 Classroom Management – Encourage everyone to collaborate and participate in putting forth their ideas and making mistakes.

 A Risk Register – A master document that helps you to track issues and address problems as they arise in a project.

In double loop learning, we can re-examine previously taught concepts while introducing more variables. We also need to encourage our students to examine why things happen the way they do not just memorize how to perform a skill.

When applying double loop thinking to the classroom… make adjustments to how material is presented for it to be effective.

Question more deeply at all times – If we don’t, we remain stuck at a certain depth and the pattern becomes entrenched.

Everyone plays scales – Bottom (safe), top (dangerous), return to bottom (safe & home). Why do we do it this way and why we can’t decide to think of the top as the new bottom and change our perspective?

Double loop thinking is also evident in Reflection.

The usefulness of the strategy of double-loop learning for leadership education and development comes from its potential to extract tacit (unspoken) knowledge from individuals and convert it to explicit knowledge.

Double-loop learning allows the educator to create opportunities, opportunities for people to understand the need to rethink why they lead and how they lead.

Double-loop learning is the modification or rejection of a goal in the light of experience. Double-loop learning recognises that the way a problem is defined and solved can be a source of the problem.

Reflection – “The process of purposefully thinking back or recalling a situation to discover its purpose or meaning” (Potter & Perry, 2014).

“In double-loop learning the agent does not merely search for alternative actions to achieve her same ends; she also examines the appropriateness and propriety of her chosen ends; DLL therefore involves reflection on values and norms” (Greenwood, 1998, p. 1049).

“Question everything and allow yourself to embrace doubt as a guide.” – We need to embrace changes.

Consider double-looping as a way of reflection. Double-looping tells us how we should reflect. It tells us what to think about. Indeed, we need to not just think about how, but also WHY as well.

“Defensive reasoning – must get past”. This is similar to confirmation bias.

The double blind – when employees adhere to a norm that says “hide errors,” they know they are violating another norm that says “reveal errors.”

Triple Loop Learning (TLL) – Most complex and challenging form of learning.

When individuals are engaged in TLL they are able to use effective questioning, listening and communicating which results in heightened morale and better performances.

 Things don’t always fit into a small box. Students need to reflect, then apply and reflect again.

“Deconstruction” is the critical thinking component that could be promoted by taking an idea or topic apart and then breaking it into parts to look at assumptions and meanings behind it.

Adaptive Action Model – Continually be curious about what is occurring, what’s going well, where the challenges are and what options/how can I move forward to better my learning, practice, or whatever it is I’m applying this to.

  • Whatdo you observe? Know for sure? Wonder?
  • So whatis working, and what is not?
  • Now what will you do to make a difference for the future?

The three loops:

  • First loop: How we do things.
  • Second loop: Why we do things.
  • Third loop: How we can change ourselves.

Mentoring – “I have a go-to person in all areas I work in, as I know I don’t know everything and two hearts/minds are stronger than one!”

Reflection permits us to examine a situation in greater detail. We can then think analytically and deeply about the situation and formulate ideas about what was happening and why. In short, reflection is Purposeful Thinking.

Experience + Reflection = Learning.

Single Loop Learning – In a fixed mindset students believe their basic abilities, their intelligence, their talents, are just fixed traits. They have a certain amount and that’s that, and then their goal becomes to look smart all the time and never look dumb.

Double Loop Learning – In a growth mindset students understand that their talents and abilities can be developed through effort, good teaching and persistence. They don’t necessarily think everyone’s the same or anyone can be Einstein, but they believe everyone can get smarter if they work at it (Morehead 2012).

The following items were referenced in postings to the Double Loop Learning forum. References are listed in the order in which they were posted.


 Double Loop Learning. (n.d.). Learning/Reflection Cycle. Retrieved  from

Bryant, A. (2009).  Reflecting and learning: 2009 to 2010.  In self leadership international. Retrieved  from

 Hartmann, T. (2007). Hunter and farmer approach to add/adhd. Retrieved  from

 Wheeler, S. (2014). Learning theories: Double loop learning. Teachthought – We grow teachers. Retrieved  from

 Argryis, C. (1977). Double loop leaning in organizations. Harvard Business Publishing. Retrieved  from

Nano Tools for Leaders. (2012). After action reviews. Wharton University of Pennsylvania. Retrieved  from

Argyris, C. (2015). Double loop learning. Instructional design. Org. Retrieved  from

Reynolds, L. (2013). Giving student feedback: 20 tips to do it right. InformedED. Retrieved  from

Cartwright, S. (2002). Double-Loop Learning: A Concept and Process for Leadership Educators. Journal of Leadership, ( pp. 68 – 71).

Potter, A., Perry, G. (2014). Canadian fundamentals of nursing (5th ed.). Toronto, ON: Elsevier. Retrieved  from

Spencer, T. (2013). How to encourage candid feedback. Bloomberg. Retrieved  from

Authenticity Consulting, LLC. (n.d.). Triple loop learning. Field Guide to Consulting and Organizational Development. Retrieved  from

Smith, M. (2001). Donald schon: Learning reflection and change. Infed. Retrieved  from

Boytchev, P. (n.d.). Deconstruction in education – A personal wandering towards constructionism. Retrieved  from

Systems. (n.d.). Wiki. Retrieved  from

 Asselin, M., Cullen, A. (2011). Improving practice through reflection. Nursing Centre. Retrieved  from

 Moilanen, J. (2015). The wisdom of tacit knowing-in-action and mission command. Adult Learning, 26(3), 101-108. Retrieved  from

 Smith, M. (2013). Chris Argyris: Theories of action, double loop leaning and organizational learning. Infed. Retrieved  from

Journal of Nursing Education and practice (2013). The reflective journal: A tool for enhancing experience-based learning in nursing students in clinical practice. Retrieved  from

Human Systems Dynamics Institute. (2016). An inquiry – Based problem-solving process. Retrieved  from


Simon Sinek. (2013). Start with why. Ted Talk. Retrieved  from

Kim Scott. (2016). Radical Candor – Improve your in person, impromptu feedback. Candor, Inc. Retrieved  from

Stefon Harris. (2011). There are no mistakes on the bandstand. Ted Talk. Retrieved  from

Ribal, J. (2015). Triple loop learning in the classroom. LinkedIn. Retrieved  from

Heggart, K. (2015). Developing a growth mindset in teachers and staff. George Lucas Educational Foundation. Retrieved  from


“The Double Blind”

“To complicate matters, when employees adhere to a norm that says “hide errors,” they know they are violating another norm that says “reveal errors.” Whichever norm they choose, they risk getting into trouble. If they hide the error, they can be punished by the top if the error is discovered. If they reveal the error, they run the risk of exposing a whole network of camouflage and deception. The employees are thus in a double bind, because whatever they do is necessary yet counterproductive to the organization, and their actions may even be personally abhorrent.”

In relating to a company’s dilemma where initiatives are moving/changing so fast, staff are usually so caught up in the change, that there isn’t any time to question, or bring forward situations where some of the ideas may not be right for the company. I am not suggesting for a second that we march up to our boss and lay it on the line (not knowing what type of relationship one may have with their boss), but by suggesting that we slow down a bit, and think in terms of questioning why we do things we are doing, it may save your company millions of dollars.

Here are some good questions on how to approach one’s boss when trying to create a culture of continuous improvement:

  1. What did we intend to accomplish (what was our strategy)?
  2. What did we do (how did we execute relative to our strategy)?
  3. Why did it happen that way (why was there a difference between strategy and execution)?
  4. What will we do to adapt our strategy or refine our execution for a better outcome OR how do we repeat our success?


Digital Storytelling

I like Stephen’s idea of a ‘parking space’. I have seen it used a lot, and I have used it as well for brain storming. By parking ideas that are not on topic, it keeps the motivation in the session going. What’s important is to commit to the group as to when you will get back to the parking lot ideas. For example, let them know that you will email the group, or summarize the ideas and then commit to when they will be discussed. By acknowledging their ideas, and discussing them at a future date, it will keep them engaged and will keep the ideas coming as well.

As far as the side conversationalist, I can’t speak from a classroom environment, but in my professional career, if I am conducting a crew talk for example, and someone is talking out of turn and disrupting the topic, I will stop talking and look over at the individual. Usually everyone will also turn and look at the individual and they usually get the message. If it happens more than once with the same individual(s), I will take them aside (alone) and explain that their input is very valuable, however it is also important to respect when others are speaking, and how would they feel if someone was interrupting when they had the floor. Just my thoughts…


Classroom Management

I thought I would just throw out my thoughts on the use of PowerPoint. I am currently not teaching, but I have done presentations before in my professional career and in my Business Administration. From the feedback I have received from peers and other students, is that too many words, and descriptive words, tend to distract people from what you are saying. Pictures are a good visual, as long as they can relate to your topic, but can be time consuming to add into the presentation. However, some pics say ‘a thousand words’ and can save you a lot of time trying to describe an image. The final part of the feedback is on video within PP. A video can be helpful to add humor into your session, and ‘bring back the room’. Thank goodness I have a computer generous for a son. It’s interesting to see the range of experience within our own forum community and the insights have been very helpful in finding new and innovative ways to keep future students engaged in the classroom.


Classroom Management

I really like these 5 quick classroom management tips for novice teachers:

  1. Use a normal, natural voice.
  • Raising our voice to get students’ attention is not the best approach, and the stress it causes and the vibe it puts in the room just isn’t worth it. The students will mirror your voice level, so avoid using that semi-shouting voice. If we want students to talk at a normal, pleasant volume, we must do the same.
  1. Speak only when students are quiet and ready.
  • Wait and then wait some more until all students were quiet. Eventually, the students will clue-in with each other.
  1. Use hand signals and other non-verbal communication.
  • Holding one hand in the air and making eye contact with students is a great way to quiet the class and get their attention on you. It may take a while for students to get used to this as a routine.
  1. Address behavior issues quickly and wisely.
  • Be sure to address an issue between you and a student or between two students as quickly as possible. Bad feelings — on your part or the students — can so quickly grow from molehills into mountains.
  • If you must address bad behavior during your instruction, always take a positive approach. Say, “It looks like you have a question” rather than, “Why are you off task and talking?
  1. Always have a well-designed, engaging lesson.
  • This tip is most important of all. Perhaps you’ve heard the saying, if you don’t have a plan for them, they’ll have one for you.Always
  • It’s better to run out of time than to run short on a lesson. Bored students equal trouble! If the lesson is poorly planned, there is often way too much talking and telling from the teacher and not enough hands-on learning and discovery by the students.
  • We all know engaging lessons take both serious mind and time to plan. And they are certainly worth it — for many reasons.

The feedback from other students that are experienced teachers suggests items #2 & #5 tend to work best for them. It was good to get reinforcement on holding your voice until the class is quiet. I have seen it used by another instructor and it was really effective. For me, I believe the better prepared my lesson is, the more confident I will be in delivering an effective and engaging lesson.

Retrieved from:


Confirmation Bias

I have similar experiences of confirmation bias in my current role as a supervisor, where we get together for team building and our motto is, ‘leave your ego at the front door’. The purpose of this motto is for people to be open to change and new ideas, change the culture, and work together as a team to improve the workplace. I also see the conflicts between my junior and senior staff when they are working together, and the challenge is to encourage senior staff to change some of those ideas and entrenched ways of doing things, and challenge junior staff to trust some of the old methods that have worked for so many years. As a future educator, I know that I have certain biases on how techniques and processes should be taught, and I see my role in confirmation bias as being open to new ideas that students bring forward.


Double Loop Thinking and Reflection

How many of us have tried to explain to someone how to do something but the descriptive words are just not there. So, we do the next best thing and we say, ‘Just watch me, and I will show you!’

This is called ‘tacit knowing-in-action’.

  • Donald Schon (1992) describes this as actions or lessons that are taken by a teacher, which are actions (tacit) that are not spoken, and are not described.
  • It is knowing-by-doing which is described as ‘wisdom’.

As teachers or mentors, we need to be able to not only utilize our knowledge to show someone how to do something; we also need to be able to describe to the learner what is expected of them while we are demonstrating it. Most learners learn in 3 ways: learning by seeing, learning by hearing, and learning by doing. A skill set that I will practice on is reflecting on the skills that I am going to teach and then practice how I am going explain it at the same time I am demonstrating the skill set. Asking for feedback from the student and having the student apply the skill will validate whether the student can actually perform the new skill successfully (single loop learning). Double loop learning will occur when the student is ready to take previously learnt information and apply it in different ways.



Visible Learning

Of the eight mind frames of the visible teacher, it reminds me of what a great leader is, and that is to lead by example.

  • As a leader we need to be able to build trust and rapport so that staff will ask for help and take risks with their learning.
  • Talk less and use the 80/20 rule as staff needs to be acknowledged and heard.
  • To use performance assessment as a tool to learn about our own leadership.
  • To seek feedback about ourselves and our leadership style.
  • To reflect upon how our own actions may affect the outcomes for our workers.
  • To seek ourselves as change agents, changing and enhancing the learning of our people.
  • To continually evaluate our own performance and expectations.

What this really means for me is that I am already practicing these key mind frames as a supervisor, and the transition from supervisor into a teaching role should come a bit easier as I can apply the same principles. A strategy that sticks out form me, as a new instructor for visible learning, is to demonstrate transparency. First, I need to show passion in what I am doing. I am just as susceptible to mistakes as my students are, and should not be afraid to show or admit this to my students. Feedback will be a critical role in transparency, as expectations need to be clear for what is expected of my students, and what they need from me; no hidden agendas. The message I am giving students needs to be consistent. Finally, honesty is the best policy. Students need to understand where they stand at all times with their performance. This means positive reinforcement and constructive feedback focused on the behaviors not on the person.


Memory and Learning

As an instructor one of the ways I can help my students to learn and remember is by utilizing the phrase, ‘Now, imagine..” it may relate to how to sketch a multi view 3D drawing. Imagine if you unfolded a box and that the edges of the box are hinged. As the sides of the box are opened each view falls into the correct position. By using examples such as this, or personal examples that students can relate to, they should be able to visualize the concept through association increasing both memory and emphasizing the learning outcome.


The Gogies

In reflecting on the Gogies, I believe for metal fabrication students all 3 of the Gogies could apply. Some students would be coming into the entry level program with absolutely no experience whatsoever and would then need to be guided through in a pedagogical style of learning. This means the instructor leads or guides students that are at the lower level of Bloom’s taxonomy, are not self-directed and the learner’s contributions are limited. Some students however, do enter the program with some prior experience and are at the andragogical stage and are self-directed in their own learning. At this stage, my role changes from that of an authoritative coach to facilitator and collaborator. In the heutagogy level, students are highly autonomous and self-determined and are well prepared for the complexities of today’s workplace. These students would be farther along in their apprenticeship training; possibly 3rd or 4th year apprentice.

As a new instructor, I would be starting off with entry level students who are either new to the 23 week program, or are beginning to learn how to be self-directed learners. I believe the challenge for me as an educator would be to keep the interest and motivation of those students that have prior experience, while trying to coach new students the basic skills, and also how to become self-directed learners. One way I will be able to achieve this is by peer coaching and mentoring. I will utilize students with more experience to help teach some of the basic skills to newer students. I will need to ensure the objectives are clearly communicated to all students by providing feedback when necessary. The forum on the 3 ‘Gogies’ was very helpful for me to understand the key differences and how I can apply them as an educator, and how they can impact the way students learn.


Digital Storyboard

I have not as of yet been involved in the digital storytelling experience. I could see a use for it in my future teaching as a metal fab instructor, as I could incorporate many pictures into a lesson plan such as blue print reading. So much can be learnt from pictures, and most students learn better when they are able to see it, hear it, and then demonstrate it!

“At its core, digital storytelling allows computer users to become creative storytellers through the traditional processes of selecting a topic, conducting some research, writing a script, and developing an interesting story.”

 The very fact that digital storytelling is now acknowledged as an essential skill for the 21st Century by the Government of Canada makes me realize how important it will be to learn and then utilize this tool in my future teachings. This program has opened my eyes to so many different tools we can take advantage of as teachers, and I look forward to experimenting with it in the very near future.

Here are a couple of good links:


Confirmation Biases

In reflecting on James’ original post where one of the statements talks about the ‘Primacy Effect’ and ‘First impressions really do make an impact?

If we were to think about the 1st day we meet and greet new students, or in my case a new employee, we may tend to relate a new person to a previous student (employee), and perhaps stereotype them and favour information and opinions that may confirm things we already think we now about that person. In other words, we have already processed some form of confirmation bias during the 1st impression without even getting to know the person. This new student may just be an introvert and is not quite ready to meet our expectation of our ‘first impression’ confirmation biases. As educators, we need to keep an open mind and reserve judgment until we fully understand where our students are coming from, and how we are perceived by them. In the context of Confirmation Bias…

Consider a case where you formed an impression of someone quickly and on only a little information. How accurate do you think your judgment was and why?

What information did you take into account?

What information might you have missed?

I thought this was and insightful link:


Types of Memory

In the Instructional Strategies Course, the one key element I took from the class is to ensure that you have a good ‘hook’ at the beginning or your lesson. I have never been much of a storyteller, but when I start to think about some of my life experiences, it doesn’t take much for the passion to come out!

This is the way I am going to approach my lessons. By using emotion and making the topic relevant to the students, this should engage them for ‘getting their emotions up’. Students will remember the beginning and the end of your lesson, and the emotional connection will be the key to helping student remember.


 Double Loop Thinking – Taking Risks

Abbas posted an interesting perspective on my forum this week when he talks about ‘calculated risk. I completely understand where he is coming from when he talks about ‘calculated risk’.

As transformational leaders our main goal is to change the status quo, to create a vision and guide the change through inspiration, and then drive the change by incorporating input and buy-in from our staff. This change process cannot take place without being afraid to take risks. Risks lead to innovation, risks lead to greater success, and risk leads to longevity as a leader.

I believe one of the keys in being able to sustain change management is, ‘Don’t get stuck on the ‘two way tape’. Getting stuck on the tape means you have given in to the typical corporate bureaucracy, and have stopped taking risks in driving what you believe in. People that are caught in the tape are looking for someone to guide them to a better place. You can apply double loop thinking in your workplace by challenging your team to change their current underlying biases and assumptions and views. Question why you are currently doing things the way you are doing them to add value, and work with your boss to align both of these goals. It will be very challenging to change a culture, but stick with it and don’t be afraid to take risks!


Confirmation Bias

In reflecting back on James’ comments about how I’ve interpreted the “decide less” part in my forum post, James says he not been able to minimize decision-taking, and is not sure that would be ‘A Good Thing.’ For me, one way to decide less is to empower the students and have them involved in some of the decisions that we make on a daily basis. For example, I may decide to structure a practical exercise a certain way, but by including the students on how they may best learn from the experience, and as long as we are meeting the course objectives, then all the power to them!


Confirmation Bias

On reflecting on confirmation bias, there are some pitfalls that we fall into in thinking about our teaching practice. Decades of research into cognitive psychology has given us a map of our systematic thinking errors. Here is one of the most prevalent biases I see affecting us as teachers:


 Decision Fatigue: decide less, decide better


‘Making decisions is exhausting; intensive decision-making drains willpower. Decision fatigue makes us more susceptible to making errors on impulse.’

Examples: While most jobs require people to make around 30 decisions a day, in teaching, we make 300 or more. Perhaps that’s what makes teaching so exhausting and draining, especially when we first start. To survive, we quickly make decisions on instinct and autopilot, but this leads to the well-established teaching plateau, where it’s very hard to change engrained habits.

Avoidance: rest, relax, recharge, replenish and revitalize: this allows us to maintain vital willpower. Perhaps that’s why we always feel like we need school holidays so badly!

 I find it fascinating how scientific research into the mind can give us clues as how to improve the way we work. A good starting point is to work out which of the traps we end up falling into most often.

Do I take on too much – and could I learn to politely say no to new commitments that blur my focus? Do I retrospectively justify all my efforts and resourcing of lessons, without discriminating between which efforts and resources had the most impact? Could I be doing less of what’s good, to make time for what’s best for my pupils’ learning? Am I overwhelmed by the dizzying array of choice of activities that I could teach, when careful focus on high-impact, low-effort strategies might save me time and improve my impact? Am I making too many decisions that deplete my ability to choose the best options, or making suboptimal decisions on autopilot?

It seems to me well worth asking these questions. That way, we can work out how to avoid the most prevalent pitfalls in thinking about our teaching practice.

Just my thoughts…

Here is a pretty good link.


I have embraced Double Loop Learning for my forum this week…

Single loop means learning for the first time. When learning for the first time, you learn how it is done and practice to perfection over time. It is a repeated attempt to answer the same problem. It ignores the question of why the problem arose in the first place.

Double loop learning is when you have to re-adjust your previously learning information. This is when you take previously learned information and are forced to learn it again, but now in a different way. This is achieved by using feedback from past actions to question assumptions underlying current views. It seeks alternatives in order to dramatically improve things.

Key Principles


  1. Discovery of espoused (what’s desired) and theory-in –use (what’s actually done)
  2. Invention of new meaning
  3. Production of new action
  4. Generalization of results

Implications for Education

This learning theory enables teachers to come to solutions to existing problems and be prepared for the next time they may arise

Teachers need to ask:

  1. Reasons for current actions
  2. What to do next
  3. Why alternative actions are

Questions for you to consider…

  1. How would you apply Double Loop Learning in your professional lives or as an educator?
  2. How would you apply Double Loop Learning as an educator?
  3. How would you apply Double Loop Learning into your classrooms with your students?

Here is a pretty good website…


Difference between memory and learning

Memory and learning are so closely connected that people often confuse them with each other. But the specialists who study them consider them two distinct phenomena. These specialists define learning as a process that will modify a subsequent behavior. Memory, on the other hand is the ability to remember past experiences.

Just as the relationship between remembering and learning exists, there is also a relationship between remembering and understanding. If we understand something, we are often able to remember it better. Understanding enables us to know where to store the information in long-term memory and effective storage is more likely to lead to effective retrieval. Also, if we are able to retrieve previously learned information from long-term memory when we are presented with new-to-be-learned information, we can make associations between the two and, therefore understand the new information better. In this way, memory facilitates understanding. If we think of the long-term memory as a network of connections, then what we are doing is making new connections between what we already know and what we are trying to learn.

Many school children perform poorly because they do not understand the difference between understanding and remembering. They often think that if they understand what the teachers say about some topic or if they understand what they read in their textbooks, they will remember the information. They do not think they need to study much for a test because they understood their teacher’s discussion or the chapter in their textbook.

This failure to recognize the difference between learning and memory leads to the demise of many students. They become frustrated and don’t know what to do to improve poor test grades. A prerequisite to making good grades would be to know that understanding the subject matter is not enough; they must also actively engage in activities that will lead to the storage and ultimate retrieval of relevant information from long-term memory.

Here are some proven techniques that will help us to actively engage with the material being studied:


Memory and learning

In reflecting on some of the comments on Shane’s blog;

Emotions can be a catalyst or an impediment to learning. It has been estimated that 95% of our reactions are unconsciously driven in our brain. Feelings and emotions effect how we learn as a first priority in our brains, and so a student who is upset can’t learn and will not remember content information very well. I believe it is within our power as educators to ensure we are creating a safe and positive learning environment in order for our students to be successful in their learning experience.


Intellectual Standards

In reflecting on Victor’s discussion on scaffolding;

Vygotsky believed a student is in the Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD) for a particular task, providing appropriate assistance will give enough of a “boost” to achieve the task independently. Two levels within the zone of proximal development are potential development in which one can perform with the assistance, and the actual development one can perform independently. Scaffolding is a support mechanism which helps a learner successfully performs a task within their zone of ZPD. In my field of metal fabrication, I would use scaffolding as an instructional method in a shop setting where students are demonstrating a particular skill-set like burning metal with a flame torch. Students would break out into their own work areas, and then:

  • I would assume the role as facilitator to observe students actions and assist where necessary.
  • Use verbal subtle hints to progress learning, or further demo if needed.
  • My support would slowly decrease as students become more proficient in use of the torch.

The benefit of Scaffolding for me gives students more ownership of their learning. It allows students to grasp content or ideas into smaller chunks without being overwhelmed. Finally, as the student becomes proficient in the task, I gradually decrease my role as a facilitator in that process.

I like these 2 quotes:

Quote from Glickman (1991, p. 6) “Effective teaching is not a set of generic practices, but instead is a set of context-driven decisions about teaching. Effective teachers do not use the same set of practices for every lesson . . . Instead, what effective teachers do is constantly reflect about their work, observe whether students are learning or not, and, then adjust their practice accordingly.”

Quote from Vygotsky, (1978 check book) whereas:  Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD) has been defined as: “the distance between the actual developmental level as determined by independent problem solving and the level of potential development as determined through problem solving under adult guidance, or in collaboration with more capable peers”


Self-Directed Learning

Victor posted an interesting question on the topic of how we are driven, and how that influences our teaching and learning strategies. On reflecting on this topic, my thoughts are as follows:

According to Maslow (Hierarchy of Needs) our basic needs of security, identity and stimulation have to be met before we progress to self-actualization (growing and developing to reach our individual potential). Consider this in the context of learning. Without motivation, learning is rarely effective, so how do we as educators motivate learners in the first place?

Daniel Pink (2011) dismisses the carrot-and –stick approach and tells us to forget everything we think about motivating people. He believes that the secret to high performance and satisfaction in today’s world is the deeply human need to direct our own lives, to learn and create new things, and to do better be ourselves and the world.

Well documented in research from Learning benchmarking experts towards maturity, tell us self-directed learners:

  • 88% learn more by finding things out for themselves, rather than through training
  • 87% know what they need to learn in order to do their job
  • 74%know how to access what they need for learning

The research also shows a worrying disconnect with what some learning managers think about their learners, indicating that it is more than ever important to understand what motivates the self-directed learner. The concept of self-directed learning isn’t new. Centuries ago, Plutarch (46-127 A. D.) succinctly captured the concept of inspiring students to pursue learning rather than simply filling them with content. His metaphor is powerful: “A learner is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be lighted.” Malcolm Knowles, adult learning theorist and educator, defines self-directed learning as:

‘A process in which individuals take the initiative, with or without the help of others, in diagnosing their learning needs, formulating learning goals, identifying human and material resources for learning, choosing and implementing appropriate learning strategies, and evaluating learning outcomes’( Knowles, 1975).

As a strategy for adult learners we need to create desire (What’s in it for me?), show them what they’ll be able to do, and ensure we set proper expectations (don’t promise what you don’t deliver). I am sure most of us can identify with a scenario like this. Strategies that could motivate learners in a positive direction would be to:

  • Make it relevant and timely, using examples from their own experience.
  • Include it in a training plan so that learners are given permission to do the learning rather than thinking they should be somewhere else, doing something else.
  • Keep it simple by producing the learning in bite-sized chunks – shorter-term, more achievable goals help maintain motivation.
  • Feedback, for example from the results of a quiz, will keep learners motivated

This is a pretty good site which may bring others some insight:


Intellectual Standards and Clarity

What is critical thinking? According to Gregory Bassham (2011) critical thinking is the general term given to a wide range of cognitive skills and intellectual personalities needed to effectively identify, analyze, and evaluate arguments and truth claims; to discover and overcome personal preconceptions and biases; to formulate and present convincing reasons in support of conclusions; and to make reasonable, intelligent decisions about what to believe and what to do.

Critical thinking is beneficial for many reasons. It can help students do better in school by improving their ability to understand, construct, and criticize arguments. It can help people succeed in their careers by improving their ability to solve problems, think creatively, and communicate their ideas clearly and effectively. It can also reduce the likelihood of making serious mistakes in important personal decisions. One of the key components of critical thinking is clarity of communication. We must be clear in how we communicate our thoughts, beliefs, and reasons for those beliefs to our students. Careful attention to our language is essential. Clarity of instruction has consistently been linked with increases in student achievement. I believe teacher clarity is a vital key to helping students understand the relationships between topics, and making connections between what is taught and their own experiences. Clarity about expectations, formats, and other aspects of direction greatly impact students completing classroom assignments, participating in the classroom discussions and questioning, and completing homework. Important to the concept of clarity for me as a new instructor will be in identifying clear teaching behaviors such as communication skills, accommodating learner differences, clarity of explanations, and assessment procedures which will impact student achievement. Some examples of teacher behaviors that I believe will assist students in making sense of information are:

  • Explaining things simply.
  • Providing explanations the students can understand.
  • Teaching at a pace appropriate to the topic and students.
  • Staying with a topic until students understand.
  • Trying to find out if students don’t understand.
  • Teaching step-by-step.
  • Describing the work to be done and how to do it.
  • Asking questions to see if students know what to do and how to do it.
  • Repeating things when students don’t understand.
  • Explaining and modeling/using examples.

A teacher’s behavior is important as it helps students to place current information into a larger framework of meaning, providing students with the “Big Picture.” This helps students frame the learning by knowing what will happen, how new information connects to what they have already learned, and what they will know or be able to do as a result of a lesson.

“Clarity can be defined as a state in which a teacher who is in command of the subject matter to be transmitted, is successful at communicating with learners successfully”, (Hines, 1981).

Partially taken from’s%20Introduction%204th%20Ed%20(2011).pdf 


Visible Learning

I believe a valuable part of visible learning is to ‘Hook’ your students into the conversation and then clarify the relevance of what you are about to share with them. I am also learning the importance of mixing up class activities to last no longer than 15 minutes. I think this falls in line with the 80/20 rule, where students need to participate often to stay engaged with the rest of the class. In my current role as a supervisor I apply this same 80/20 rule. When my staff are doing most of the talking, they are more engaged to have input into ideas and feel good that they have been acknowledged, rather than being ‘talked over’ and their ideas are diminished. I like this quote I picked up from Lorna’s forum discussion. It is very powerful.

“Talk less and create dialogue with the students, ensuring they make up 80% of classroom talk”


The Life Long Leaner

In reflecting on David’s forum discussion, I believe it is crucial to the survival of the lifelong learner’s ability to continuously seek new knowledge in order to stay competitive in today’s world. A self-directed learner seeks autonomy in the learning process, and takes responsibility for and is in control of what and how they are learning. One cannot dwell too long on what they have learned for someone else already has. It is the very process of learning how to better learn that is crucial to instructional success. The ultimate goal of person-centered education is: “Learning becomes life” (Rogers, 1969, p. 115).

I expect the adult learner to be fully engaged in and have higher expectations of me, as a future instructor, to create a holistic, student-centered environment in the classroom. My role will focus on that of a facilitator rather than that of a lecturer. Adult learners will want more autonomy to learn what is most relevant, and that they are able to participate in the learning process. As McCombs and Miller (2007, p. 8) stated: “It is urgent that we transform education systems”, further supported by Patterson (2006, p. 8) that instruction should aim “to educate the kind of (holistically, interpersonally developed) people necessary for the survival of the society”.

Adult learners are more responsible for their own education today as opposed to many years ago. They have grown a need for self-actualization with a desire to become more and more what one is; to become everything that one is capable of becoming Maslow (1954, p.30). Today’s focus is on the inner person, that person’s needs, desires, and wants, and how these require attending to in any learning encounter. The one insight that I now have as a result of this quote is learners what to become a complete package. Students have come to accept more responsibility for their learning and are more self-directed. The power base has shifted whereas the learner is, for the most part, in control of what they want to learn and the onus will be on me as the facilitator to collaborate with students to ensure their needs are met.

As an instructor, I will need to focus my role to that of a facilitator and mentor, where the learning is guided and supported. Personal relationships will need to be created with students to build and foster trust. Their personal experiences will need to be acknowledged and embraced. Above all, my students will be motivated by providing as much autonomy as possible as so they are in control of what and how they are learning. As Rogers (1969, p.164) stated, “If he is not fearful of accepting contradictory purposes and conflicting aims, if he is able to permit the individual a sense of freedom in stating what they would like to do, then he is helping to create a climate for learning.”

Retrieved from

Here is a link to another perspective on the self-directed learner.


Learning from mistakes

I have been in a lot of training courses and have observed, usually at the beginning of the class, how quiet students/ participants can be. Most participants are afraid to say anything out of fear of making mistakes or being judged. I believe one way of eliminating this fear as an instructor/teacher is to address it right off the bat. Acknowledge to your students that this is a safe environment, and free of judgement for all of us to be open and trust one another to make mistakes as part of our learning process. Setting the tone at the beginning of your class will allow greater opportunities for students to take risks and push them to new limits of learning.


Learning to Learn

Reflecting back on Cor’s forum comments to Diana asking, ‘Are you ready to make a change?’  I couldn’t agree more with this statement. I believe in this as well, that most adult students are already in the habit of self-reflecting and are proactive in learning how to learn so we do not need to be 100% responsible for their learning. But, what about that new adult student that is just getting back into school for whatever reason for the first time in many years. This is our opportunity, and our responsibility, to help the student learn how to learn and teach them how they can tap into their own self-reflections. They may be motivated and are ready to make a change to learn something new, but they may be introverted or nervous. We as teachers need to recognize these students and offer extra support to bring the best out in them. We may even pair them up with a more experienced student to help mentor them along until they build up their own confidence. This is just another perspective on how we can help new adult students learn how to learn and reflect.


Visible learning

Reflecting as a supervisor, transparency for me means a degree of honesty and openness that I have shared with my staff on consistent regular basis where they really put their trust in my candor. To that end, by committing to this transparency, it has promoted more honesty and candid expression among all of my team. In other words, by leading by this example it has instilled a safe and trusting culture for my staff.

By allowing more transparency in my style of leadership, it has opened myself to more meaningful relationships; both with the team as a whole, and with the individuals on my team. Forming personal friendships with my staff isn’t typically a productive course of action since it can distort working relationships, but I still have healthy, mutually respectful, sociable relationships with each individual on my team. Being transparent has allowed me to be more approachable, and has helped me to be more human and genuine in nature. The end result for me has evolved into an environment where positive working relationships with my staff have been formed easier and have lasted longer.

As a future instructor, I believe that to be transparent I will need to clarify to my students why they are being asked to learn certain outcomes. One way of achieving this level of transparency would be by explaining in detail how their learning outcomes reflect their relevant knowledge and skills.

I like this model of visual learning which is based on John Hattie’s practical roadmap for implementation in the classroom.

Taken from


Learning from mistakes

In reflecting back on my trade’s background I was taught early in my career, as a young apprentice, that if you are not making mistakes then you are not learning anything. I was supported and encouraged throughout my apprenticeship to take reasonable risks, and when I did mess up, I took ownership for it. I would be given an explanation as to me why I messed up, and I was then sent on my merry way to try again.

I have been a supervisor now for approximately 15 years, and the only difference in my mistakes is that they are usually bigger and more costly. Fortunately, I have been supported in the same respect as when I was an apprentice. Where I wasn’t supported, then and now, is when I made the same mistakes again, and didn’t learn from the experience; this is usually a different conversation to understand why I am making the same mistakes. They don’t happen as often, ‘but I am only human’ works pretty good as an excuse. I apply this same logic to my staff, and will apply the same logic to my future students. Opportunities for mistake will be encouraged and supported, and when mistakes happen I will provide feedback to them.

I think for students to gain a new mindset about school and their mistakes we have to approach errors in a specific way and word choice is everything. Rather than saying, “You made a mistake here,” which could cause students to feel dread about their error, we could say “I’m glad you made that mistake; it means you’re thinking about the problem, and you can learn from it.” The language we use sends an important message, and we want our messages to be supportive and constructive. There are many ways we can promote an environment in which students feel safe to fail – if they don’t fear the feeling of making mistakes, they’ll take greater risks during lessons.

A couple of things that we might consider doing as teachers are:

  • Show them how it’s done: If you are able to make an error, correct it and teach about it, you’ll help your students feel more comfortable with their own mistakes.
  • Make mistakes commonplace: Many students/staff fear the unknown, and if mistakes are rare, they could become foreign to them, and therefore become a scary concept. Let mistakes be a normal occurrence in your class, to show students that errors are no big deal and definitely not something to fear.



Learning to Learn

My professional background is in the metal fabrication trade and have I been supervising fabrication and other trades for the last 15 years. I am now future focused on becoming a full time metal fabrication instructor. When I served my apprenticeship, the culture of the learning environment was a typical pedagogical relationship between the educator and the adult learner. The instructor was in control and totally accountable for the learning, what was to be taught, how it was to be taught, and how it was to be measured. It was ‘old school’ in nature and there was very little engagement between the teacher and the student. The trade now has a mix of both pedagogy and andragogy, as I have noticed a shift in our young adult apprentices whereas they are more collaborative, ask many questions, are self-directed learners, and are engaged in learning new process and techniques.

In reflecting on the purpose of education, and specifically related to adult education, I believe it is to develop our personal growth, whether it be in Vocational, Recreational, or Self-development. Education focuses on creating a lifelong independent person who is a self-directed thinker. It is one who engages in systematic and sustained self–educating activities to gain new knowledge, skills, attitudes, or values, and takes responsibility for their own learning. “Malcolm Knowles defined self-directed learning as “a process by which people identify their learning needs, set goals, choose how to learn, gather materials, and evaluate their progress” (Rubenson, 2011, p. 53).

Knowles made one important distinction between a pedagog and an andragog: An ideological pedagog would want to keep me dependent on a teacher, whereas a true andragog would want to do everything possible to provide me with whatever foundational content I would need and then encourage me to take increasing initiative in the process of further inquiry (as cited in Levitt, 1979, p. 53).

In reflecting on this theory, I believe one of my roles as a metal fabrication instructor would be to align my teaching strategies based in part on Gail Caruth’s Learning How to Learn: A Six Point Model for Increasing Student Engagement (Hadley, 1975):

  • Create a safe environment for learning: Provide an environment that encourages questions free from criticism that is safe, successful and interesting for students.
  • Ask students what they need to know: Probe students about what they need to know as they will be more interested in classroom activities, and learning is more effective if it coincides with a particular need to learn.
  • Explain why students are learning certain concepts, theories and skills: Help students learn about the value of learning to realize for themselves that there is a gap between where they are and where they should be. To invest time on learning something that they do not relate to or can make use of is considered pointless. Learning is more effective if it coincides with a particular need to learn.
  • Provide real-life learning opportunities: Establish a learning environment with realistic problems because adults are problem-centered when it comes to learning.
  • Offer opportunities for collegial collaboration and introduce group activities and discussions, problem solving assignments, simulation exercises, and case studies in the classroom. Emphasis on peers helping peers on real-life problems enhances students’ ability to identify what they already know, what they need to know, where to access new information, how to resolve problems.
  • Have students evaluate their own learning: Share the responsibility for evaluating learning and designing learning goals and objectives that make sense to students, and to help students to become self-directed learners.

By applying this six point plan for promoting engagement my role as an adult educator will help to ensure students are more engaged in the learning process and to be more successful as lifelong autonomous learners.

Here is a link to the 6 point model for increasing student engagement:


Effective Listening Techniques

The one interesting thing that comes to mind when I read Tom’s opening is to keep in mind is how we are questioning students. Do we use open-ended or closed questioning techniques? Asking a closed or convergent question is good for checking understanding, however the effectiveness can be limited. For example what answer did you get for question 4 on solving square route? Asking an open-ended or divergent question is a way to elicit discussion, or thinking outside of the box. For example, how did you solve question 4 on solving square route? Is there another way to solve this problem? Students will be more engaged when you utilize open-ended questions which invite authentic reflection and discussion with students.


Effective Listening Techniques

Benjamin Bloom’s taxonomy is another theory that is valuable when determining the types of questions that teachers should ask their students. Bloom states that there are six different levels of thinking: knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation. In relating these six different cognitive domains of comprehension, the first three represent low-order thinking, or content, and the last three represent high-level thinking, or process. Teachers that are effective appeal to each level of thinking to encourage students to draw conclusions, relationships, and applications of information that they receive during class.

Designing questions that match our objectives to the ability level of students is so important in receiving strong responses from them, and connecting major concepts of different lessons. In order to do this, planning questions prior to class discussion is necessary to ensure variety; divergent questions that appeal to a higher level of thinking are often more difficult to formulate. Many teachers who don’t plan in advance may resort to asking predominately convergent, or the same types of questions. Lastly, and most essentially, teachers should prepare their questions prior to each lesson to ensure that they properly asses the main ideas of the material and are not confusing for students.

In reflecting as a future instructor, I will encourage students to share their opinions freely through the use of divergent questions; this gives students a sense of importance and confidence which will lead to increased participation. After students have given their opinions or responded to a question, it is necessary to provide them with feedback in order to get them in the habit of explaining the reasoning behind their thought process. Feedback is also significant because I believe it builds the level of comfort between the student and teacher in addition to providing the class with valuable discussion.

Probing is another effective technique that I will utilize to expand thinking and increase the likelihood of students responding. The idea behind probing is to direct the student’s thinking towards the major concepts or important aspects of the topic. When using this technique, convergent questions, or those that encourage a single broad content answer, are most appropriate and help to obtain more elaborate responses from the student. Finally, redirecting, or posing the same question to a different student is another method that that can be utilized to encourage high levels of self-confidence in students.

Here is a pretty good link on the concept of Bloom’s Taxonomy and effective questioning techniques to increase class participation.

Retrieved from:


 Positive Learning Environment

In reflecting on Ellen’s comments to me on giving feedback in private, I do believe in giving positive as well a negative feedback in private. I find feedback to be better accepted and effective when the feedback is started off with positive remarks and then move toward any negative areas for improvement, eventually ending with encouraging remarks. I understand the perception of giving feedback in private, as staff and future students may view this as, ‘they are in trouble for something’. To avoid this perception, I make it clear to my staff, and to future students, that just because I am meeting in private does not necessarily mean that there is anything wrong, and that one-on-one conversations in private are preferred by most to ensure their privacy.


Positive Learning Environment

In reflecting on creating a positive learning environment as a future metal fabrication instructor, I envision this environment as ensuring I know the content of the course very well, and present it to the class as so the students can clearly understand the principles. I would treat the students with respect and put them on the same level as myself, never judging or talking down to them. Give constructive feedback and encourage risk taking, have an easy going demeanor, be very approachable, and put students at ease; this will create a safe zone. Lastly, I will have a positive outlook and often reassure the class that I will do my best to help students to succeed.

To build on a strong classroom community on the first day of class, I would provide opportunities for students to form connections with other students. For example, as an ice breaker, ask what they have fabricated in the past and what one project they would want to work on. This encourages reflection. To encourage participation of students, I would utilize a think–pair-share strategy. Students would be assigned into groups to discuss their different backgrounds and interests, and then together discuss the results. I would promote regular open communication so students can share their thoughts, ideas, and feelings. In some situations, I would provide feedback by taking the student aside and speaking to them in private, this will avoid embarrassment in front of other peers.

Students believe that they can achieve their goals and are important factors in their persistence in ongoing learning. To build on self-esteem and self-efficacy in promoting a positive learning environment:

  • First Impression: Ensure first meeting is a positive one.
  • Have a positive attitude: toward students.
  • Acknowledge them: Let them know I am on their side to be successful.
  • Have patience! Some students have various learning barriers. Patience builds trust.
  • Values: Accept my students as they are and respect individual values.
  • Believe: in my students and they will believe in themselves.
  • Memorize names: First day or 2 of instruction. Use frequently.
  • Constructive Feedback: Encourage students to give and receive feedback.
  • Focus on the issue not the person. No blame. Be specific.
  • Positive Reinforcement: is effective by just saying, ‘good job’ and smile.

Building a sense of community in the classroom is necessary to foster healthy attitudes towards learning. Imagine a negative environment where students feel anxious, and disrespected by their teacher and their peers? The environment could become very competitive and unstable. As well, students would unlikely be intrinsically motivated when they are feeling the impacts of a negative learning environment. An environment where students do not feel accepted or respected is unconducive to a positive learning environment.

Another important aspect of being a good teacher is being an effective communicator. Effective communicators:

  • can explain their own ideas
  • express their feelings in an open but non-threatening way
  • listen carefully to others
  • ask questions to clarify others’ ideas and emotions
  • can sense how others feel based on their nonverbal communication
  • will initiate conversations about group climate or process if they sense tensions brewing
  • reflect on the activities and interactions of their group and encourage other group members to do so as well

Here’s a couple pretty good site on creating a supportive learning environment.

Retrieved from:


Praise & Feedback

In reflecting on giving both praise and feedback as a future instructor, it would all depend on the situation. For me, providing feedback would be giving students an explanation of what they are doing correctly AND incorrectly. However, the focus of the feedback should be based essentially on what the student is doing right. It is most productive to a student’s learning when they are provided with an explanation and specific examples as to what is accurate and inaccurate about their work. Starting a conversation with positive praise on a job done will encourage students to want to keep trying. Once a positive rapport has been established, adding in constructive feedback will be more easily accepted by the student.

In my current supervisory role, I manage unionized workers. There are not many ways to reward staff as their wages and benefits are set by their collective agreements. One of the best ways however, to motivate staff in this particular work environment, is to reinforce good work through praise and acknowledgment. It has always stuck with me that whether you are a supervisor or a teacher, when you are leading people, they will always remember how you made them feel.

I believe feedback will be one of the most important tools for me in future teaching. For example, feedback can be valuable in preparing students before exams and demonstrations to minimize anxiety. Students need feedback often and in a timely manner to build confidence, and reassurance that they are on the right track. It needs to be very specific, and students need to know that you are there to support them in any way you can to help them be successful.

Her is a link to some valuable tips on providing feedback:

Retried from:


Critical Thinking

In reflecting on critical thinking, I have used it in my current role managing different projects and utilizing input from my staff. This could be from deciding on how we are going to install a new steel platform on to an existing building for example. Five critical thinking skills that I have used and have shared with my staff are:



  1. Analyzing
  2. Reasoning
  3. Evaluating
  4. Problem Solving
  5. Decision Making

There are projects that are not so straight forward and I encourage staff to think outside of the box, and be creative in order to get a project done.

I don’t believe critical thinking is a barrier at all to creative thinking in that critical thinking lets you look objectively at a problem, issue, object, or person and takes into consideration the entire picture. Creativity enables you to take that entire picture and look at it in a new way. Critical thinking is present in creativity by carrying the thought process further than critical thinking logic and presenting it in a creative perspective.

From a trade’s perspective, I believe focusing on critical thinking is almost a mandatory approach. For example self-assessment is a key skill-set for metal fabrication students as they need to be able to work independently while demonstrating critical thinking in various aspects of the trade. New knowledge and habits of behavior are only incorporated into long-term changes when learners develop strategies and criteria for monitoring their own ongoing performance. Ultimately, our job is to ween the student of their reliance with our guidance and approval. We want the student to be not only self-directed, but eventually self-regulating. I can accomplish this by assisting my students with ongoing practice, combined with peer feedback and self-assessment, enabling them to be successful at independently mastering the required skill sets of the trade.

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