Students’ Resistance to Learning

I have struggled with this facet of teaching since day one. In my previous career, I had control over my work. I would create drawings of a building for a client, city or contractor. The quality of the product was in my hands. As a teacher, I would point to the quality of my graduates as an indication of my success.

But this success or failure is in the hands of each student. As a teacher, I can strive for the facilitate learning in a well structured, engaging, varied manner but I cannot control student success. My realm of control includes setting up quality courses and removing obstacles from a student’s path.

The key to addressing students’ resistance to learning is to focus on the class as a whole. Celebrate the enthusiasm of students. Reward students for punctuality, professionalism and excellent work. Focus on the positive and you will have positive results. There are factors in student motivation that are completely outside of the teachers control. By focusing on the positives, learning becomes an escape from negativity and an opportunity to achieve success.

5 Ways to Leverage Positive Thinking to Achieve Your Goals

The above article offers concrete actions to focus on the positive:

  1. There is Real Power in Extreme Focus
  2. Vividly Visualize Your Intended Outcome
  3. Be Mindful of Negative Thoughts
  4. Get Inspired by Others Who’ve Achieved Greatness
  5. Do Not Give Up: Be Persistent with Your Positive Thinking

My Career 2022

What job would I like to have in 2022?

I would like to teach full time in my current position. I hold the position on a temporary basis and would like to become a permanent staff member. The timing of this is out of my control but I do have the power to update my resume, cover letter and portfolio in preparation for the interview for my job.

How will I continue to enhance my teaching skills?

I will complete the Provincial Instructor Diploma Program (PIDP) with Vancouver Community College in 2017. I will continue to critically reflect on my teaching practice. I will also take advantage of the professional development opportunities presented by BCIT. Discussing teaching issues with other instructors has proven a valuable learning experience. I will continue to engage peers in these discussions.

Will I engage in further formal education?

During 2017, I will explore the option of completing a BA in Adult Education. This program is offered through the University of Fraser Valley. They accept transfer credits from the PIDP program. They also offer a course portfolio course that recognizes teaching experience and offers appropriate exemptions. The online course offerings would work well for my schedule.

Will I join a professional organization?

As an Architectural Technologist, I am an associate member of the Architectural Institute of British Columbia (AIBC). I never thought about joining an professional organization for my job as an adult education. This is a blind spot that I will address by engaging with the Canadian Association for the Study of Adult Education (CASAE). I will also discuss other professional organizations with the faculty at BCIT.


By 2022, I will be teaching adults in a full time capacity with BCIT. My BA in Adult Education will be complete and I will be an active member of the CASAE, or other professional organization.

Racial Micro-Aggressions

“…racial micro-aggressions. Popularized by Derald Wing Sue (2010), micro-aggressions are small acts of exclusion and marginalization committed by a dominate group towards a minority.” (Brookfield, 2015)

I have encountered racial micro-aggressions in the actions of other throughout my career, although I never heard of the term before reading this book. On some occasions, I was in a position to address the situation, while on others, I did not feel like I was in a position to take action.

This short video Derald Wing Sue gives some great examples of micro-aggressions and strategies to address these unconscious actions we take every day.


  1. Constant Vigilance: of your own actions.
  2. Experiential Reality: in terms of others race, culture, gender and ethnicity.
  3. Don’t Be Defensive.
  4. Be Open to Discussion: of your own attitudes and bias.
  5. Be An Ally.


Brookfield, S. (2015). The Skillful Teacher: On Technique, Trust, and Responsiveness in the Classroom. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Sue, D. R. (2010). Microaggressions in Everyday Life: Race, Gender and Sexual Orientation. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Core Assumptions of Skillful Teaching

  • “Skillful teaching is whatever helps students learn.
  • Skillful teachers adopt a critically reflective stance toward their practice.
  • The most important knowledge that skillful teachers need to do good work is a constant awareness of how students are experiencing their learning and perceiving teachers’ actions.
  • College students of any age should be treated as adults.” (Brookfield, 2015)


In this post, I will comment on the third assumption listed above. To paraphrase this core assumption, a good teacher empathises with their students. They try to see the learning environment and activities through the eyes of their students. But it is impossible to know how another person views a learning activity. Their perspective is unique. An instructor can only strive to be as aware of their perspective as possible.

Here is an useful video about empathy. It includes a variety of practical activities to empathise with people.

  • Ask them.
  • Read their facial expressions and body language.
  • Put yourself in their shoes. Imagine what their life is like.
  • Mirror posture or facial expressions to experience emotional contagion.


Brookfield, S. (2015). The Skillful Teacher: On Technique, Trust, and Responsiveness in the Classroom. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

How to get better at the things you care about

I saw this TED talk on an education blog by Dwayne Harapnuik (

Learning zone v. Performance zone

How will I spend time in my Learning zone? I will continue to learn more about my subject matter and my teaching practice. In reality, I will seek out opportunities to stay in the learning zone with deliberate practice, such as:

  • Peer mentor-ship with a teaching colleague.
  • Peer mentor-ship with an architectural contact.
  • Try out new teaching strategies and reflect on the experience.

Reflect on teaching experience

The Best Ways to Reflect on Teaching

“Simply having experience does not imply that they are reflected on, understood, or analysed critically” (Brookfield, 2015).

The link above offers a variety of techniques that can improve teaching by critically analysing experience, including:

  • Notebook
  • Video journal
  • Student survey
  • Data teams
  • Peer observation


Brookfield, S. (2015). The Skillful Teach: On Technique, Trust, and Responsiveness in the Classroom. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

What makes a good teacher?

There are many attributes of a good teacher. Here is a list of nine attributes based on an article by Mario Orlando:

  1. Respect students
  2. Create a sense of community
  3. Warm, access, enthusiastic and caring
  4. Set high expectations
  5. Display a love for learning
  6. Skilled leader
  7. Able to “shift-gears”
  8. Collaborate with colleagues
  9. Maintains professionalism

Nine Characteristics of a Great Teacher

I would boil it down to a more simple description. A good teacher loves to teach. If you don’t love to teach, you are simply counting down time until you escape to summer holidays or retirement. A love for teaching will drive a good teacher to learn more about their subject matter. They will care about students who are under pressure. They will challenge students and acknowledge the excellence that only a teacher can recognize in their work. A good teacher cares.