As an educational developer, I am an educator and the teachers, whom I support, are my learners in the process of developing new skills, knowledge, and attitudes. My foundational beliefs on how people learn and solve problems guide me through all my activities, be it providing professional development to faculty, supporting them in learning design and curriculum development, or in providing consultation to other stakeholders in education. These foundational beliefs are:

  • Learning is individual and social
  • Learning happens in relevance to context
  • Learning happens over time
  • Learning thrives on relationships and rapport
Learning is individual and social:
According to Dewey (1959), learning is an active process entailing mental activities of inquiry, thinking and reflection. At the same time social stimulation is needed for learning to happen. Believing in this social constructivist view of learning, I strive to create an appropriate social learning environment for my learners. Teaching can be an isolating act, where one spends most of their time with students with little opportunity for collegial interaction and exchange. I try to create and facilitate environments where faculty can interact and learn through dialogue, discussion and reflection.
Learning happens in context:
Learning happens in context: I believe that learning happens in a context and in relation or connection to one’s previous knowledge and life experiences. Similarly, challenges are contextual and people play a role in those contexts. When consulting, I pay special attention to the situation and interplay of context, human actors, and challenges. I look for root causes that need to be addressed, instead of approaching with a pre-planned solution. I aim to gain a better understanding of a given challenge through dialogue with people who are involved in it from different angles and perspectives.
Learning happens over time and in trusting relationships:
Teaching skills develop through an ongoing process, not one-off training sessions. When planning professional development, I have a long term view and consider multiple touch points with faculty. I try to generate opportunities for introductions and general orientation that would lead to focused work with faculty on areas that they identify for their own growth. This is not possible without building relationship and rapport with my learners. As Hoessler and West (2017) noted, building rapport requires the core facets of trust, empathy, mutual respect, confidentiality, and making personal and professional connections. Throughout my educational development career, I have put an intentional effort into improving my capacity for rapport building.   A strong sense of trust and relationship enables me to be the critical friend (Handal, 1999) that many faculty members seek. Through dialogue and facilitating their critical reflection, I can support them in developing new strategies and outlooks, while they continue to be in control of their growth and work through their teaching challenges.   In summary, my principle understanding of the social and psychological aspects of learning, importance of relevance and context in individual’s learning, and that learning happens over time and through multiple ways of engagement have guided my approach to be a facilitator of learning. I strive to build relationships and be the critical friend who helps faculty members grow their competence and confidence.

References

Dewey, J. (1959). My pedagogic creed. In J. Dewey, Dewey on education (pp. 19-32). New York: Teachers College, Columbia University. (Original work published 1897)

 

Handal, G. (1999). Consultation using critical friend. New Directions for Teaching and Learning, 79, 59-70. https://doi.org/10.1002/tl.7907 

 

Hoessler, C., & West, K. (2017). Rapport: A multifaceted concept in educational development. In Educational Development Guide Series: No. 2. Rapport-Building for Educational Developers (pp. 20-29). Ottawa, Canada: Educational Developers Caucus.