Create Informal Learning Opportunities

How can we best support instructor learning at work?

In general: consider the instructors’ stage in their career: for instance, new instructors might need coaching and mentoring, while experienced teachers might need new challenges, such as teaching/developing a new course or serving as a mentor. You may also consider creating opportunities, removing barriers and inspiring learning.

Create opportunities

  • Job rotation: If possible, ensure that an instructors do not teach the same courses over and over again, change it up to encourage them to keep learning
  • Encourage collaboration on projects
  • Create an online repository for sharing teaching materials (for instance: sharedrive)
  • Encourage new instructors to audit more experienced instructors and discuss teaching practice
  • Create buddy system for new instructors
  • Ensure instructors have time in their schedules so they can meet and discuss their teaching
  • Have instructors present their best teaching assignment or strategy in staff meetings
  • Make sure course coordinators collect feedback from the other course instructors; ask them to share the feedback with the supervisor during PMP review
  • Seek out and share PD opportunities for instructors and encourage them to go, ask them to report what they learned after
  • Encourage instructors to participate in committees with instructors from other departments
  • Celebrate instructors’ accomplishments, both formal learning and accomplishments learned on the job

Remove barriers to workplace learning

(The biggest barriers to learning are 1) lack of time, 2) lack of proximity to resources (including colleagues) and 3) fear of being perceived as ‘less competent’ when asking questions.)

  • Create a culture of learning: where everyone acknowledges that everyone is still learning, and it’s ok to ask questions and ask for feedback
  • Be clear that the only behavior that qualifies as ‘less competent’ is pretending not to need to learn anymore
  • Reduce workload where possible
  • Ensure that instructors’ work spaces are close enough together so they can easily access each other for advice and discussion

Inspire learning

  • Appeal to instructors’ own motivation for their work
  • Show an interest in instructors’ own efforts to learn and grow
  • Encourage instructors to investigate the success of their current behavior
  • Present instructors with alternatives that might further improve their practice
  • If necessary, discuss with individual instructors the consequences of not learning
*Picture courtesy of Lars Ploughmann