Blog 44

In this 5 part series, Mandy Frake Mistak from the Teaching Commons provides an insight into her experience running and Instructional Skills Workshop (ISW)  at the University of Lincoln in the UK.

hill old-house phone-box pub

 ISW blog 3 – ISW Day 2


In my last blog entry I wrote about day one of our Instructional Skills Workshop (ISW) at the University of Lincoln in the UK. I have to admit that am I not usually one who succumbs to jet lag and time change but on this particular occasion it was catching up on me quickly. I daresay that this was mostly due to the stress of trying to make this ISW experience both significant and impactful for my new colleagues. Day one was off to an exciting and successful start but day 2 is typically where, as a facilitator, I will experience some resistance and push back as participants strive (and often struggle) to incorporate feedback from the previous day as well as keeping up with the vigorous structure of the ISW.

True to form, there was some push back from the participants – questioning why things had to be done a certain way and offering suggestions for what they would do differently. Accepting their suggestions with a thank you and questioning some of their motives for making them, they ultimately decided to trust me…after all we still had a whole day left in the workshop! So pushing forth despite the critics, and also being very mindful of the group dynamics both in the large and small group settings, we continued to witness transformation in teaching and self-actualization of the student-centred teaching! By no means am I suggesting that any of the participants were not student-focussed in their teaching, but to receive feedback from your peers who are actually students in your 10-minute mini-lesson is altogether different.

Throughout the day participants struggled with many of the same issues from the previous day: time management, clarity of instructions, post-assessments not reflecting the learning outcomes, and frustration. Although these issues are common on day two of the ISW, that in no way alleviates the actual experience of the participants as they go through it. In sharing that information I hope to bring about a sense of shared community and that the process is working. What the participants were experiencing was the dissonance training which is a key feature of the success of the ISW model.

On the whole day two was a success. With participants leaving somewhat subdued but happy, Celia and I knew that we were on the right track. There is a fine balance as a facilitator of pushing the participants beyond their comfort zone, encouraging others in the group to do the same, and then being mindful of the consequences if things go awry or when things go superbly. The critical component of both of these consequences is the reflection and debrief. What have the participants learned about themselves and their teaching and why? What did they do? Was it effective? How do they know?

Armed with feedback from their peers to review and prepare their lessons for day 3, our participants left Celia and I to begin our lengthy process of debriefing the day and sorting out how we were going to bring everything together in day 3 – our last day! We chatted for a while at the University before commencing our uphill jaunt back to our cottage. We took a bit more time that evening to enjoy the walk and take in our surroundings, all the while comparing notes on our respective experiences of the day. Being in the UK I was desperate to find a “chippie” (a place where I could buy french-fries wrapped in newspaper), and so along the walk we kept an eye out. Finally finding one, we arrived too late. They were just closing down so I was out of luck this trip.

Our conversations about the workshop and how were going to incorporate the participants formative feedback from day 2 into day 3 continued until late in the evening when we decided that it was finally time for bed. A good night’s rest would do us and our overactive minds some good.

Enjoyed this? Look out for previous and forthcoming blogs to hear more:

  • 3 Oct ISW blog 1 – Prologue
  • 7 Nov ISW blog 2 – ISW Day 1
  • 9 Jan ISW blog 4 – ISW Day 3
  • 6 Feb ISW blog 5 – Epilogue

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