Earlier in the year when I had to put together my first teaching portfolio, I encountered a variety of phrases that I had not encountered before. Thanks to Google and discussions with some colleagues I was able to piece together what was expected of me for each section. The most memorable comment from my colleague (who is busy with his diploma in Higher Education at present) regarding my pedagogical philosophy was to trust my instinct and write about my experiences. Why? Because everything that we do as educators has its strengths and benefits. The only thing that I might get wrong is the terminology of what I was doing. That is something that I have learnt through attending ONL222 as well. Inherently, how I teach (whether in person or online) has some grounding in sound educational frameworks – I just didn’t know what they were officially called!

I’m not saying my philosophy is 100% correct. Absolutely not! I just know that I am starting with a fairly solid base to build on. Now, equipped with the knowledge from ONL222, I can adjust my style of teaching to incorporate some new ideas (or old ideas in a better way). I must just not be afraid of trying new things. Heavens, I was the one in my group who pushed to use Instagram stories for our last team submission. Me. The person who goes out of their way to separate their personal and professional life. I have been pushed well beyond my comfort zone even having to put these personal reflections out online, because it enhances my online presence which I prefer to keep under quite strict control. That said, it is due to this pushing of boundaries that I feel like I have actually taken something from this course.

An idea of how I could use the knowledge that I have gained from ONL222 would be around how I implement teamwork in my courses. Previously I have given the students a project brief and allow them to form their groups themselves. After the submission of the project, I incorporated an element of group peer assessment in parallel to my own assessment of the work. Unfortunately, at no point did I ever include why I was making them do group work so there wasn’t an associated learning objective for the students. Therefore, from the outset of the course I will redesign the course objectives to include the role of teamwork within the context of the course and discuss them during the introductory lecture so that expectations can be set and managed. Beyond this, I will be more critical in the development of the tasks to ensure that they will initially scaffold the development of the teams before launching them towards a state of autonomy. The first group deliverable will be an agreed set of rules for how they will work collaboratively and how they will manage conflict. After that, the project will be broken into several smaller tasks. These will initially guide the team discussions towards a desired deliverable; and increase the complexity and level of autonomy for the teams over time so that their own voices can come through.

This is but one small example of what I plan on doing to improve my teaching. My formal education in pedagogical philosophy is most certainly not done. In fact, it is only just beginning. Partly for selfish reasons, so that I have the necessary credits that a university requires me to have for a lecturing position. Though in large, it is so that I can improve myself and my skills so that I can better serve the students. Thank you ONL for opening my eyes to the possibilities that are around me!

Life begins at the end of your comfort zone