I prefer to think of myself less as a teacher, and more of a facilitator of learning. I believe that I should be deemed successful in the classroom only when the learners have synthesized and internalized the material. Therefore, everything I do around designing and facilitating learning events comes from a focus on the learner. I have had the pleasure of teaching at Centennial College for the past 5 years.
My Teaching Philosophy:
History: From Water to Education
My journey from swim instruction to adult education
Me and My Sister Julie:
This is my sister Julie and I playing in our backyard pool when we were 11 and 12 years old respectively. Julie had a rare physical disability that the doctors called, “The child version of ALS.” Her upper body started to shut down at the age of 5. Swimming allowed her to move freely and we spent a lot of time swimming in that pool that would lead me to love swimming and become a swim instructor someday. Growing up with a sister with a disability taught me how important it is to be inclusive as a teacher as she was very gifted in her school subjects despite having difficulty typing and using a pen/pencil. Our school, Maple Ridge Public School, was very inclusive to Julie and provided an E.A. to assist Julie and the teachers would educate other students about her disability. Not all teachers were inclusive however as her gym teacher in grade 5 gave her an F in the basketball unit because she was physically unable to dribble a basketball. This taught me that, as an educator, modifications must be made to measure learning. If a skill can not be measured due to injury or a disability, then you can’t assess learning. I believe as an educator, it is our duty to design courses that allow fair access to education.
My love of swimming would lead me to my first job as a swim instructor. I had the chance to teach children and adults of all ages and skill levels on how to swim and enjoy it too. I started doing this at age 16 for the City of Pickering and still do this as a partner with Canada Red Cross so I can now teach and hand out certificates/badges on my own. Being a swim instructor taught me the importance of creating lesson plans as we had to submit one to our supervisor before every class. It also taught me the importance of making classes fun, and giving the students and their parents timely and accurate feedback on student progress.
My Other Sister, Jenn:
This is me and my other sister Jennifer surfing in Maui. Jenn is one of the strongest and most fierce people you will ever meet. She had a pretty brutal experience with surfing before this one where she fell on her face and hurt herself pretty badly, and whereas most people would have given up on it, Jenn kept going. Jenn also lost her best friend pretty recently which wasn't easy and she is always able to take life's punches and keep going. It's this fighting spirit of hers that inspires me to never to count anyone out and to never give up on my students.
In 2012 I began my one-year, consecutive Bachelor of Education at Trent University in the Primary/Junior stream (Kindergarten to grade 6). Here I was challenged to improve my teaching skills and develop lesson plans. I still remember my first one-on-one placement student Dylan. He was in grade 3 and struggled with his reading skills. I quickly learned that Dylan could read just fine, given the right motivation. He liked to build stuff, so we did, but only if he could read the instructions first. At the end of the placement he was able to read words at his grade level that would help us learn how to make sock puppets. This made reading enjoyable for him and he was able to see how important reading was. This experience paired with what I was learning in my courses taught me that every student has his/her own unique strengths and weakness, likes and dislikes. By getting to know the students better, one can tailor education to meet the needs of every student.
In the summer of 2013, I was approached by a parent of one of my swim students and she let me know that she thought I was a great teacher and should teach at her work-Centennial College. After she set up an interview with the Dean of the Business School I was hired as an instructor and taught my first class there on January 4, 2014. From there I was able to keep improving my skills and in the Fall semester of 2016, I was nominated and won the George Wicked Award for Teaching Excellence. This award was a great honor as my students had nominated me for it. On the award ceremony night, I accepted the award with my sister (Jennifer), mom, and my wife (Alana) watching.
My Wife (Alana):
My wife, Alana, is always there for me when I need support and encouragement in my teaching career. She even encouraged me to advance my career by applying for the Professional Master of Education at Queen’s University. I thought this might be tough with my schedule teaching at Centennial College, yet she encouraged me to do it. She would also remind me that I have nothing to complain about as her Ph.D. in molecular genetics required a lot of work. She is also very organized. A skill I was lacking before we met. As a teacher, we need to be highly organized and she has inspired me to work on this skill. With her love and support, I can easily balance school and work.
My Son, Avery
This guy has brought so much joy into my life in such a short period of time. I'm realizing as a parent, and a teacher that curiosity of children and students is truly a gift. Being a parent and a teacher is truly an honour and both can be challenging at times, but both are also extremely rewarding experiences. Like my students, I think I learn more from Avery than he learns from me.