Instructor: Deborah Jones
Co-taught with Dr. Lee Fox
PLEASE NOTE: This class will be run in a Silver and Bronze format only (no Golds).
Silver students will be able to complete and submit weekly written assignments for feedback.
There will be weekly discussion topics and Silvers are encouraged to participate.
Silver students will also have the option of choosing two video assignments for feedback as well.
In this class we will:
1. help you work through the steps for building a strong class syllabus,
2. help you develop your unique teaching style, and
3. practice dealing with the inevitable difficult or uncomfortable situations that happen in the classroom.
Next session starts: October 1, 2018Registration starts: September 22, 2018Registration ends: October 15, 2018
Registration will begin at 9:30 AM Pacific Time.
Enrollment limits: Gold: -0- students, Silver: 25 students, Bronze: unlimited.
Gold Level: no gold level in this course
Silver Level includes access to all course materials and the ability to participate in the discussion forum. Students may ask GENERAL questions about course materials and may submit two, one-minute videos for instructor feedback. Any questions specific to your dog MUST be accompanied by a video.
Bronze Level includes access to all course materials and the ability to read all questions and answers posted in the class forums. Students will not post questions or submit written or video assignments.
For more details, refund policies, and answers to commonly asked questions see our FAQ page.
Silver Level includes access to all course materials and the ability to participate in the discussion forum. Students may ask GENERAL questions about course materials and may submit two, one-minute videos for instructor feedback.Number of slots:25
Bronze Level Access includes all lecture and video materials, and the ability to read all questions and answers posted in the class forum. You will not post questions or submit written or video assignments.Number of slots: unlimited
From Trainer to Teacher 2: Strengthening Your Skills Syllabus
Objectively assessing the strengths and weaknesses you bring to the role of class instructor. Working on ways to improve your teaching persona.
Developing an outline for a syllabus for a 6 week class.
Filling in the details to round out your class syllabus.
Practicing your presentation skills. Being both personable and professional.
Interpersonal skills and conflict resolution. Dealing with common difficult situations in the classroom.
Completing all the details in your syllabus. Time management & class management.
There are no prerequisites. However, the first class in this series 'From Trainer to Teacher 1' will be available for purchase during the registration period.
Here's a portion of our first week's lesson:
You are now at a level where you are likely thinking about developing an entire class devoted to dog training. Over the course of this term we’ll be discussing the process of syllabus-building, interpersonal skills, professional presentation, and class management.
Before that, however, we would like to have you do some introspection about your strengths and weaknesses as a presenter. In order to be comfortable and confident in front of a class you need to make an objective assessment of your teaching style. Our goal is to develop a style that is clear and understandable to the largest number of students possible.
Week 1: Generalizing Your Teaching Skills
1. You will have a clear idea of what you bring to the classroom in terms of your background, skills, and experience. Knowing what you possess is one key to developing a confident classroom persona.
2. You will be able to objectively assess your own strengths and weaknesses as a presenter. This is an invaluable ability for continuous improvement in your presentations.
3. You will become (possibly uncomfortably!) aware of how you come across to other people and begin to make changes to improve your classroom persona.
In this week’s materials, you will be working on building your confidence in front of a classroom. Part of this is realizing that to teach someone else anything, you need to know the skill reasonably well. In addition, you will be begin working on your “style” as an instructor. Everyone has a distinctive style of instruction, and coming to terms with how you approach teaching and working within your own comfort zone will also translate into confidence.
Let’s talk a bit more about confidence. People sometimes make the mistake of thinking that if they just know EVERYTHING about a topic, they will be fully confident. This is an impossible bar to set for yourself. No matter how well you know a topic, there is still a good chance there will be something that you don’t even realize that you don’t know. Part of expertise is realizing what you do not know!
The Four Stages of Competence:
There is a learning model that addresses how much you know and how aware you are of your knowledge or lack thereof. Competence refers to your ability to perform a skill or your understanding of information. If you are competent, you are capable and knowledgeable.
But in addition to competence we also have the concept of consciousness and unconsciousness. This has to do with your awareness of what you do and don’t know, and the amount of effort you need to put into performing a task. If you are conscious, you are exerting significant cognitive effort. If you are operating unconsciously, then you are acting on autopilot without much or any effort involved.
So that leads to 4 possibilities:
Unconscious incompetence: You don’t know what you don’t know.
Conscious incompetence: You do know that there are things you don’t know.
Conscious competence: You know, but you must actively work at what you’re doing.
Unconscious competence: You know what you know, and can do it fairly effortlessly.
For most new instructors, they typically fall into the categories of conscious incompetence (and they are working to improve their knowledge, skills and abilities) or conscious competence (they have acquired the knowledge, skills, and abilities, but it’s not second-nature yet).
Here’s a link to more on Wikipedia:
So, don’t worry about knowing everything. Your job is to know more than your students. We (Deb and Lee) have been in the position on more than one occasion of having to leap into a new class with very little time to prepare. It is a bit nerve-wracking, but our goal was always to stay a step ahead of our class. That may be your goal, too - although with a bit of luck, you’ll have more than a day or two to prepare for your classes.
What happens if your students ask a question to which you do not have a ready answer? Don’t panic! if you get questions that you can’t answer well, then you have a couple of possibilities. You might be able to expand on what you DO know, while acknowledging that you might not be fully answering the question. You might turn the question back at the questioner and suggest that this a good place for them to do some research (Google is always a good place to start). You might acknowledge that you do not know, but that you can investigate further and get back to them (don’t forget to follow up). You can also ask the rest of the class to weigh in. Oftentimes, someone will know the answer or how to find it.
What you probably should not do is to pretend to know more than you do. Students can spot a faker - and your credibility is damaged, making the rest of the class difficult to complete.
What if you have tremendous knowledge, but you have difficulty effectively sharing that knowledge. In this case, we are describing what we mean by the term “voice.” The term voice goes well beyond the way you sound. We use this term to describe the overall way that you communicate and are perceived by your audience. Your voice is the foundation of your presentation style.
Think about a time where you have been in a class with a well-respected presenter. You have been looking forward to this experience for weeks, but as you are sitting there, you find yourself disappointed. You expected more. The problem isn’t the material, but instead the manner in which is is being conveyed. It falls flat. You want to avoid that!
The problem is often an issue with the presenter’s “voice.” They have the knowledge, but their ability to present that knowledge in an engaging way and/or connect with students is lacking.
You need to work towards building an individual style. Part of that is being true to who you are and working within your comfort zone. You will come across as authentic, and that will enhance your effectiveness as an instructor.
Both of us (Deb and Lee) have had experiences where we were not totally comfortable with the material or the setting or the students, and we tried to adopt a persona that we thought would work in that situation. Because it was a fake persona, though, it didn’t work as well as we had hoped. For example, when Lee was first teaching, her class was one on gender roles. Because she had never taught before, she had no teaching persona, yet. So, she “borrowed” what she thought an effective instructor should be - very authoritarian, fairly rigid, and generally humorless. This is actually a very common approach for new inexperienced instructors to take. Don’t make this mistake!
You may be more comfortable with fairly clear rules and regulations - that’s fine. You may be more comfortable with tremendous flexibility - that’s fine. You may be great at developing rapport using humor - spectacular. You may be very uncomfortable using a great deal of humor - that’s fine too. Your style is your style -- embrace it, use it to your advantage, and don’t apologize for being who you are in the classroom. And know that you will evolve. Lee is no longer authoritarian, rigid, or humorless! Usually, with experience, you will land on a comfortable middle-ground that works well both for you and your students.
While we are recommending that you be yourself in order to be authentic, there are also aspects of teaching where it will be necessary for you to play a role that is not comfortable for you. For example, you may need to set class policies that will not always be popular with your students. Let’s say that you have an attendance policy and that you will not allow students to make up more than one missed class. Without a doubt you will encounter students who do miss multiple classes and want you to make exceptions to your rule. As a nice helpful person, you are going to want to accommodate them. But as a class instructor with limited time and energy, this would be a mistake. So even though you are an easygoing and flexible person in general, you may need to hold a hard line here and play a role that’s not totally comfortable for you.
Not everyone will love you - no matter what you do, not everyone will like it. Have reasons for why you do what you do, leave yourself room for improvement, and then forge ahead! After all, it is your class - people sign up in part because they see value in what you have to offer.