Pam Foster 2011
Personal Portfolio: Pam Foster
How my teaching evolved.
This portfolio is a construct of influences and changes that I experienced through my journey to become a teacher. My first conscious experience of teaching was orientating new staff employed in my area. I usually received positive feedback from people, saying that I could explain things well, and demonstrated a thorough knowledge. At other times people found me a little intimidating as I did set a high standard. It is my personal philosophy that the better you understand the theory behind an action the more likely you are to make the right decisions. While I had the clinical knowledge I lacked the knowledge derived through scholarship. To rectify this deficit I completed, when the opportunity arose, a Bachelor of Nursing degree and later a Master’s degree in nursing.
Learning from scholarship, began when I enrolled in a Bachelor of Nursing (BN) programme as an experienced practitioner. I learnt about so many things that I had previously had no idea about for example; what research was, what a theory was. On reflection I realised how narrow my nursing training had been, as we just did diseases processes and how to do tasks. My BN experience encouraged me to complete my Masters of Nursing a few years later. This was a different experience because although the inherent focus was health, topics were varied and encompassed things that weren’t about nursing. I felt that a whole world of knowledge was available to me and I appreciated the importance of continuing education. I enjoyed writing essays (to a point) for the information I was exposed to and the knowledge I gained. I always chose topics I knew nothing about so I would enhance my understanding. Completing my nursing degree expanded my opportunity to progress my nursing career. As identified earlier, I had an affinity to teach and was keen to encourage others to advance their learning, so I became a nurse educator in a hospital. I enjoyed teaching and showing my knowledge but on reflection much of what was taught was based on the “transmission mode”l. Rather than delve into this area of educative work I will instead explore a number of factors that influenced my progression in teaching. A requirement of the role was to Pam Foster 2011 2
complete a Certificate in Adult Teaching (CAT) which was my first exposure to formal teaching.
The CAT course was open to anyone, and I was the only nurse so I was exposed to people from other occupations who also taught within their role. The nursing world can be very insular and we can learn from those in other occupations. The course provided a range of skills, from how to write a lesson plan, to effectively teach a task and appreciating different learning styles . On completion of this course I thought I understood how to construct a learning environment and had an enthusiasm to keep teaching. The course, while it gave some basic teaching skills, made little reference to teaching or learning theory and although discussed, they were not presented with in a theoretical framework. This concern about my lack on theoretical knowledge was reinforced when I started teaching. Although I worked in a very supportive team with some very experienced teachers I had no mentoring to develop my own teaching skills. The attitude was, great you can teach that topic so off you go. I wanted someone at least to be in the classroom with me and see if I was marginally competent. That we do something so important as educating the next generation of nurses but there is no expectation to understand the underlying theories around teaching astounded me. It is almost an arrogance on the part of other professions that if you know your topic you can somehow teach competently. My first year had some challenges but I was introduced gently to the role and did not have much teaching responsibility. I was engaged in assisting with...
References: Biggs, J. (2003). Teaching for quality learning at University. (2nd
ed.). Bury St Edmunds, England:
Open University Press.
Carper, B. (1978). Fundamental patterns of knowing in nursing. Advances in Nursing Science, 1(1),
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