Well, I have come to that point in my school where I get to do my capstone project. The PIDP program at VCC requires the capstone in order to graduate with my teaching certificate. The struggle that I have is that I am not in a teaching role at the moment. Well, I am, but not formally.

I am a manager with a retail company, and am in charge of the training there. It is partly prescribed, and partly make it up as you go along. It is not the type of teaching that works for the capstone project.

I also have a lot of experience with management, but no formal education, like a BA in business, or anything like that. I took this program so that I could be a better corporate trainer, and to get into that side of retail business.

I posted on my facebook page a call-out for ideas from my friends and family, and it has been an interesting experience to see what suggestions they have. There is a lot of misconceptions, of course, about what I am taking at school, and what is actually required with this project. But there is also a lot of misconceptions about what adult education really is.

I have also had a lot of words of encouragement, and affirmation that I am a gifted teacher, trainer, mentor and coach. It helps me feel that this was the right program to take, and that it will be a beneficial diploma to have.

I will try to update as I go along. For those in the program, the capstone comes faster than you think, and it is worth it to get here. Be encouraged as you go through your program, and enjoy the learning as you go!

Learning styles, Context, and Authenticity

There are so many amazing resources to help show that learning styles exist, and a solid little video that questions their existence ( ). I have been wrestling with the idea of learning styles, and being the instructor, and how exhausting it must be to feel like you have to hit up everyone’s learning style, and be individualizing your classroom for each student, and in the end, I think that is a waste of our time and energy as instructors. I am not saying that we should forget about learning styles. They are important to know and understand, and a very useful concept to consider, especially if many in your classroom are not getting what you are trying to teach. I think the more important questions should be on the context of your class, and ensuring you are teaching based on strategies that are authentic to the context of your course.

As an instructor, I want to be sensitive to the idea of learning styles, but I will not cater to everyone’s particular needs. I will, however, try to incorporate various activities that may engage the different styles.

If you are not authentic to the content and context of your course in order to hit on everyone’s learning style, you are failing your students.



In my class forum there is a great discussion happening in regards to motivation in the classroom. One of my favourite resource articles that came up was this link:

As one of my peers, Sharon Dowling, summed up, “…some of the common threads that run through the PIDP courses:
~ give frequent and constructive feedback
~ create community
~ go for authenticity, point out the value of the lesson to the overall learning goals”

Motivation is strong where there is frequent and constructive feedback, and I would add the idea of fair, accurate, and consistent feedback also. Students see quickly who the keeners are, and some fight for that position, where others, like myself, allow those keeners to rise, and quietly do their work in the background. It is always encouraging to be noticed, especially when you might be more of the wallflower in the class.
Fair means that it is spread around, and does not highlight just a few (which does not mean that it has to be equal…).
Accurate meaning that the feedback should not be a general statement, such as “good work today.” It should be more pointed and deliberate. One way to give feedback for the last example could have been better stated as “Thanks for adding in the valuable input to your team today with the example of the bridge. It brought better insight and clarity into the discussion.” It shows that you are listening to the discussions that are happening, and giving attention to the details of what is being discussed.
Consistent feedback means that it is timely, and happening throughout the course, and not just at the end when the marks arrive.

We are also motivated through community, which needs to be created from the beginning by the instructor. The class will make it their own, but the space needs to be created by the instructor for community to be built.
The last point, Authenticity, needs to be continually monitored and reviewed. The more I as a student can be reminded of why we are learning what we are learning, how does it connect with what we are trying to accomplish, the more I will feel comfortable with the projects, classroom discussions, and other learning moments as they happen.

The role of the instructor throughout the course is very important, not just to provide instruction or information, but to chart the course to allow learning to happen. There was another video link ( ) in which one of the people being interviewed called it being “a guide on the side.” I love that idea of a journey of learning, and that it is not the role of the instructor to be in front of the line, showing the way, but the guide stepping back, allowing the students to do the work, and guide them (using feedback!) along the way. The instructor may be an expert, but spoon feeding students, or clearing all the path away does not help them get the whole picture.

This brings me to another thought along motivation, one that was also raised by my peer, Veerpal Gill, and that is the idea of the motivation of the instructor. How can we as instructors stay motivated ourselves? This connects to the idea of authenticity again, and how students are discerning…they can spot when the teacher has checked out, or is unmotivated, so how do we stay motivated? What are the checks and balances we need to make for ourselves?
My favourite illustration of this is the Champagne tower. As one fills and overflows, it cascades down to the other flutes. How can we ensure we are being filled, and overflowing into the lives of those around us?

Instructional Strategies

In light of my posting my video prtoject for my instructional strategy, here is a list of other very useful instructional strategies, and the digital projects that my fellow peers in the course created. Grab some popcorn and enjoy as you learn!


The Demonstration Strategy, by Cheryl Jensen


Storytelling, by Lesley Florell


Team Jeopardy, by Susan Falconer


Case Studies, by Jaspal Ahluwalia

Journalling in the Classroom, by Connie King


Jigsaws, by Tim Enders


Send a Problem, by Stacey Fenwick


‘Stations’ by Sharon Downling


“Think-Pair-Share” by Sherri McCarthy


Role-plays: Playing big, by Md Sunjari


Background Knowledge Probe, by Veerpal Gill


The Portfolio, by Jennifer Reilly

Adult Learning Tips

Adult Learning Tips

In the land of businesses, training does not come cheap, and often sending employees to seminars, conferences and workshops have great returns on investment. Presenters, quite often, are experts in their field, but not necessarily experts in adult education or as presenters. This link is a fantastic resource for those who have been asked to teach, but don’t know how. 

The author has taken the basics of Adult Education, and has bullet pointed the big ideas, presenting the reader with solid tips for those appointed with the task of teaching.

This resource does simplify adult education into 6 pages, and I know it is so much more difficult than this, however, what a great starting point to help guide others into becoming great presenters!

Self Directed Learning in the workplace

Self Directed Learning in the workplace

The link attached is a wonderful primer for discussion about corporate training, and the move to a learner-directed training program. As a manager, and a trainer there needs to be strong training for success, and yet many corporations do not give the appropriate time or resources into training. It is a short term gain for a long term loss. Better training from the beginning leads to longer term success and reduced employee turnover. The more self-directed we can make our employees, the less time we have to spend “training” and the more time we can spend on development. If we were to develop a better culture of self-directed learning, where we set our new hires up for success, what would that end up looking like?

A little more about me…


Throughout my life, I continually find myself in positions of leadership and training. Thankfully it is something that I enjoy, and do not fight it. To help strengthen my abilities, I am working on my BC Provincial Instructor Diploma through Vancouver Community College, and am almost finished!

I worked for 8.5 years with Starbucks, starting as a barista, and worked my way up to a store manager within my first 2 years. I excelled in my role, and took on additional responsibilities within the learning and development side with our regional offices. I was a CF, a ACF, and an MCM. A CF is a classroom facilitator, teaching classes to newly hired baristas and shifty supervisors. An ACF is an advanced classroom facilitor, teaching classes at the management level. An MCM is a Manager Coach Mentor, working with newly hired external managers tio teach them all the skills needed to be a successful manager within Starbucks. I loved this added responsibilities, and look back at this as a highlight of my career with them.

8.5 is a long time to be in one career these days, and I was looking for the opportunity to be stretched in a new role with a new company. Now I work for West Elm, which is a furniture and home décor retailer from Brooklyn. We are a sister brand to the Pottery Barn family of stores, and Williams-Sonoma. I am a part of the management team as the Operations Manager. This seems like a far stretch from teaching, bnut there is a lot of training and teaching moments involved. Also, it is a great job to give me more experience while I finish my PIDP program.

I do not yet know where I want to go after this program has finished. There are so many options in front of me, and it is an exciting, (although at times frustrating) place to be! I am thankful for the opportunities to learn and grow, and am thankful that I am in a place where I can still help others learn and grow.

This blog will help me capture thoughts and resources for instructional strategies. Some will be classroom based, many will be corporate based, as that is my current life. I hope you enjoy, and will find some inspiration along the way.