My title here at the Gwenna Moss Centre is officially “Instructional Design Specialist”; I apply my instructional design background to help faculty and instructors develop and improve their skills and abilities as teachers and course designers. However, I think of my “real” work as being more fluid and less prescriptive than the title suggests; I think my ultimate role is to be a “professional learner”. A philosopher at heart, I am prone to reflecting on ideas such as “What is learning? What is teaching? Is it truly possible to have one without the other?” and hoping that I can inspire others who are also on their own teaching and learning journeys.
I love learning – always have, likely always will. Learning is not always “fun” but I find it intrinsically satisfying knowing I could find the answer to a question I had or solve a problem to a challenge. My goals weren’t always what to learn what the teacher wanted me to learn, and sometimes I didn’t know what the teacher wanted me to learn. I wasn’t always popular with every teacher, but I learned from those experiences none-the-less.
One of the most important things I’ve learned along the way is to not be afraid to fail. By that, I don’t mean be a slacker, but to push myself out of my comfort zone. Failure is an integral part of the learning process. Too many times we punish our students for failing instead of giving them a safe environment to make mistakes and try again; often as teachers we don’t risk failure ourselves and stick with the “tried and true”. When I get to that point of feeling “this is way over my head, I’ll never get this right”, that is when I am actually learning the most. Sometimes we have to push ourselves and our students to uncomfortable places to make the most progress as teachers and learners.