A Deconstruction of my Learning to Teach Experience

My learning to teach journey.

The Principles of Policing

Sir Robert Peel was supposedly the architect of modern day policing. In 1855 he proposed a Bill in the British Parliament that was supposed to improve the level of Policing the residents of London were receiving. Some historians might argue that he was never the author of these principles. I don’t think there is any argument they were revised by Sir Robert Mayne in 1829.

Take a moment to read the nine principles and ask yourself the question: “How well are we living up to them”?

  1. To prevent crime and disorder, as an alternative to their repression by military force and severity of legal punishment.
  2. To recognise always that the power of the police to fulfil their functions and duties is dependent on public approval of their existence, actions and behaviour and on their ability to secure and maintain public respect.
  3. To recognise always that to secure and maintain the respect and approval of the public means also the securing of the willing co-operation of the public in the task of securing observance of laws.
  4. To recognise always that the extent to which the co-operation of the public can be secured diminishes proportionately the necessity of the use of physical force and compulsion for achieving police objectives.
  5. To seek and preserve public favour, not by pandering to public opinion; but by constantly demonstrating absolutely impartial service to law, in complete independence of policy, and without regard to the justice or injustice of the substance of individual laws, by ready offering of individual service and friendship to all members of the public without regard to their wealth or social standing, by ready exercise of courtesy and friendly good humour; and by ready offering of individual sacrifice in protecting and preserving life.
  6. To use physical force only when the exercise of persuasion, advice and warning is found to be insufficient to obtain public co-operation to an extent necessary to secure observance of law or to restore order, and to use only the minimum degree of physical force which is necessary on any particular occasion for achieving a police objective.
  7. To maintain at all times a relationship with the public that gives reality to the historic tradition that the police are the public and that the public are the police, the police being only members of the public who are paid to give full time attention to duties which are incumbent on every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence.
  8. To recognise always the need for strict adherence to police-executive functions, and to refrain from even seeming to usurp the powers of the judiciary of avenging individuals or the State, and of authoritatively judging guilt and punishing the guilty.
  9. To recognise always that the test of police efficiency is the absence of crime and disorder, and not the visible evidence of police action in dealing with them.

Learning to teach in the Police Foundations / Law Enforcement Program at The National Academy of Health and Business I have had to revisit my career many times. Reviewing the 25 years I served with the Saint John Police Force and The Department of the Solicitor General on secondment has had me deconstructing my experiences. I am trying to bring an unbiased approach to the recent and not so recent events that have occurred. When you look back at events as they transpired, the Los Angles riots, Newark and others up to today and the perception of heavy handedness by police will we ever be able to turn this thing around?

I hope we can for the sake of the Police Profession, for those affected and the students I teach. My purpose is to instil in my students that we receive the right to Police the community from the community. When we have the support of the public we will be safer than without it.

Police Foundations and Law Enforcement Program of Study

I started my law enforcement career right out of Holland College’s Atlantic Police Academy by going to work in Saint John, New Brunswick. During my early years I attended many in-service training programs. The prevailing opinion at the time regarding careers was that it will be normal for our generation to have three or four careers.

When I was presented with this idea I began planning what mine would look like. After some careful consideration I thought, ten years in policing, ten years in law, then I would teach at either a police academy or in law school for another ten years to round out my career.

I never made it to law school because both times I wrote the LSAT’s and applied to law school I was never in the upper percentile and got overlooked.

There was a role in policing I began to look more closely at and that was the work of a Public Information Officer. I took the steps to pursue this Public Relations training and assume that role. I graduated from Seneca Colleges Corporate Communications Management Program with High Honors and recognized for my commitment to professionalism with the Doris Whiteside Award from the Canadian Public Relations Society. A few years later while completing a Master’s of Science degree in Public Relations at Stirling University in Scotland, an opportunity to teach the Research Program at Seneca College in Toronto presented itself. I was thrilled!

This brings me to the point of this particular installment on my Learning to Teach blog. I have completed what many would say is a complete circle. I am now teaching, not in public relations, as I have for a number of years, but in a police foundations / law enforcement program at the National Academy of Health and Business and it has surpassed my expectations and interest. I liked teaching public relations but this is even better because I am teaching students about my first love… policing! It is not work, it is a calling or something higher… a purpose!

Here are some of the subjects I cover over a 43 week period to introduce students to law enforcement and the criminal justice system. In the coming blogs I will deconstruct some of these topics. Please check back one in a while or follow for updates.

Introduction to Police Foundations

This section will introduce the student to law enforcement and the criminal justice system. They will also understand the duties and responsibilities of police administrations, services and agencies. Subjects include:

    • Police terminology
    • The history, role and function of policing in Canada
    • Corrections
    • Contemporary issues
    • Police administrations, services and agencies

Criminology

This section will introduce the student to the study of criminology and the role of law enforcement. The student will be able to define and understand the concepts of burden of proof and standard of proof. Subjects include:

    • Criminology
    • Criminal justice
    • Law enforcement
    • Community Based Policing

Hierarchy of Laws and the Canadian Constitution

This section will introduce the student to the structure and content of the Canadian Constitution in order to understand how laws are made. The relationship of the hierarchical structure that relates to specific offenses holds practical applications for law enforcement. Subjects include:

    • The Canadian Constitution – An Overview
    • How laws are made
    • Structure, function and powers of the federal, provincial and municipal governments

Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms/Law and The Criminal Code

This section will examine the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms with specific focus on the protection of human rights as they relate to law enforcement. Subjects include:

    • Study of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms
    • Case Study
    • Law and the Criminal Code
    • Interpretation of the Criminal Code
    • Criminal and Civil Law

Laws of Evidence

This section will introduce the student to the laws of evidence required to prove an offense. The student will be able to distinguish various types of evidence and examine the admissibility of each. At the end of this session the student will be able to explain the role of evidence law and the roles of the judge, jury and counsel with respect to the evidence. Subjects include:

    • Laws of Evidence
    • Disclosure Obligation
    • Corroborative Evidence
    • Admissibility of Evidence
    • Physical and Documentary Evidence
    • Oral evidence and witnesses

Elements of Offences

This section will introduce the student to specific elements of offenses and the role of case law. The student will study the differences in offenses to persons, property and the public. Subjects include:

    • Elements
    • Offenses against persons, property, public order
    • Proving the offense
    • Criminal offenses
    • Domestic violence
    • Facts in Issue
    • Hate Crimes/Ethnic Diversity

The Criminal Code, Federal and Provincial Statutes

This session will introduce the student to the Canadian Criminal Code and Federal and Provincial Statutes. At the end of this session the student will be able to interpret the Criminal Code and understand the theories of civil law, prosecution and defense as they relate to properly obtained evidence. Subjects include:

    • The Criminal Code
    • Federal and Provincial Statutes
    • Theory of Civil Law
    • Examination vs. Cross Examination Theory of Prosecution Theory of Defense

Prejudice Hearsay and Privilege

This section will examine how prejudice, hearsay and privilege affect the outcome of law enforcement and the probative value of evidence. Subjects include:

    • Prejudice
    • Hearsay, privilege
    • Improperly obtained evidence
    • Probative value of evidence
    • Case study

Young Offenders

At the end of this session the student will be able to demonstrate an understanding of the Young Offenders Act and Child and Family Services Act in order to discuss and analyze current relevant issues as they relate to law enforcement. Subjects include:

    • The Young Offenders Act Historical Overview
    • Child and Family Services Act Sentencing and Corrections
    • Alternative Measures

Written and Verbal Communications

At the end of this session the student will be able to communicate accurately, persuasively and credibly with individuals, groups and multi-disciplinary teams. The student will also be able to demonstrate the ability to apply and practice professional business and legal writing skills. Subjects include:

    • Theories of communication
    • Effective English and listening skills
    • Making effective presentations
    • Interviewing for investigation
    • Written communications
    • Business and legal writing skills
    • Maintaining an accurate diary

Psychology

At the end of this session the student will be able to demonstrate an understanding of psychology and how it affects behavior, implement team-building methods and develop a practical approach to dealing with difficult behavior. Subjects include:

    • Psychology
    • Factors affecting human behavior
    • Cognition, perception and motivation
    • Team building
    • Interpersonal relationships
    • Theories of criminal and deviant behavior

Sociology and Ethics

At the end of this session the student will be able to demonstrate and practice occupational and professional ethics and understand social issues by demonstrating sensitivity to cultural differences.

    • Theory of social behavior
    • Types of functions of social services
    • Community programs
    • Issues in diversity
    • History of race, ethnic relations in Canada concepts of culture, ethnicity and race
    • Crisis Intervention
    • Ontario Human Rights Code

Principles of Ethical Reasoning

At the end of this session the student will be able to apply ethical reasoning ability to their personal and professional decision-making process. Subjects include:

    • Principles of ethical reasoning
    • Basis of moral reasoning and ethical behavior
    • Occupational and professional ethics

Criminal statistics and trends

At the end of this session the students will understand how to read and analyze criminal statistics and trends. The student will demonstrate the ability to collect evidence while respecting the rights of the witness. Subjects include:

    • Criminal statistics and trends
    • Psychological and social impact of crime and violence
    • Legal rights of the witnesses and of the accused
    • Respecting Rights in the Collection of Evidence
    • Search warrants and wire taps

Public Administration

At the end of this session the student will be able to demonstrate the ability to understand and apply theories of public administration and public sector management. Subjects include:

    • Theory of public administration
    • Theory of public sector management
    • Public administration and the political process

Acts and Regulations – Offenses

At the end of this session the student will be able to demonstrate a working knowledge of the acts and regulations that create offenses and how they relate to law enforcement. Subjects include:

    • Controlled Drug and Substance Act Young offenders Act
    • Provincial Offences Act Highway Traffic Act
    • Compulsory Automobile Insurance Act
    • Trespass to Property Act
    • Liquor License Act & Regulations

Acts and Regulations Administrative

At the end of this session the student will be able to demonstrate a working knowledge of the acts and regulations that are administrative in nature and the role of law enforcement. Subjects include:

    • Police Services Act
    • Mental Health Act
    • Tenant Protection Act
    • Coroners Act
    • Child and Family Services Act

First Nations People

At the end of this session the student will be able to understand social issues related to First Nations People and demonstrate sensitivity to cultural differences and laws. Subjects include:

    • Laws, demographics, culture and current issues
    • Ethnic composition and the history of race relations in Canada
    • Culture and sensitivity training
    • Racially motivated conflict
    • First nations policing, use of force, law and legal issues
    • History, sovereignty, land titles, cultural history, current issues

Police Procedures

This section has been designed to introduce the student to basic police procedures and prepare them to be able to promote and facilitate partnerships within the community. At the end of this session the student will be able to demonstrate the ability to exercise officer safety in use of force training. The student will also demonstrate the ability to manage traffic and understand traffic law and issues, affect an arrest, issue a warrant, interview witnesses, obtain evidence, maintain a diary, conduct an investigation and maintain a personal fitness program. Subjects include:

    • Basic police procedures
    • Officer safety and use of force training
    • Community Based Policing
    • Fitness
    • Powers of arrest, arrest authorities
    • Search and seizure authorities
    • Warrants
    • Interviews, statements and confessions
    • Police discretion – implications
    • Police governance and accountability
    • Disclosure obligations to the public
    • Police management and labour relations
    • Police Services Board
    • Police complaints
    • Interviewing and investigation
    • Legal issues in investigation
    • Observation and listening skills
    • Maintaining a diary

Community Policing

At the end of this session the student will be able to demonstrate a working knowledge of community based policing and facilitate partnerships within the community. Subjects include:

    • Theory of community policing
    • Models of community policing
    • Public relations
    • Alternative dispute resolution strategies
    • Community involvement in dispute resolution
    • Crime prevention strategies
    • Volunteerism

Conducting an Investigation

At the end of this session the student will be able to collect and preserve evidence and demonstrate a working knowledge of rules and evidence. Subjects include:

    • The preservation, collection and continuity of physical evidence
    • Evidentiary value
    • Investigation of death
    • Forensic evidence

Lifestyle and Stress Management

At the end of this session the student will be able to maintain a personal fitness program, demonstrate problem solving and conflict management skills, understand and follow standards of occupational health and safety issues, and demonstrate team building skills in group dynamics. Subjects include:

    • Stress management
    • Lifestyle management
    • Substance abuse
    • Nutrition

Occupational Health and Safety/Tactical Communication

    • Occupational health and safety
    • WHMIS
    • Team building
    • Dealing with aggression
    • Conflict management
    • Theory of tactical communication
    • Mediation
    • Conflict resolution
    • Interpersonal and group dynamics

Traffic Control

At the end of this session the student will be able to demonstrate the ability to manage traffic and understand traffic law and issues. Subjects include:

    • Highway Traffic Act and Accident Investigation Traffic law enforcement
    • Public relations
    • Crowd control
    • Traffic management
    • Traffic law and issues

Job Preparation and Preparation for the Standardized Police Examination

At the end of this session the student will be prepared to write the Standardized Police examination as approved by the Police Learning System Advisory Committee. The candidate will be prepared with a professional resume and interviewing skills. Subjects include:

    • Preparing a Resume
    • Interviewing techniques

Practical Placement

During the on-the-job practical work placement, the student will be required to participate in a volunteer community based project focusing on one or more of the above modules.

Inductive Observation

A lot of wisdom here.

Eye 1One of the things that makes the security field so interesting is that it’s mostly about people. Security efforts (even if assisted by security systems) are usually directed at people, and largely executed by people for the protection of people. The most important assets are usually people, most of the highest risks we try to mitigate have to do with people and most screening and assessment efforts are attempts to distinguish between people who pose a security risk and those who do not.

If you can’t understand people, you can’t fully understand security.

View original post 2,736 more words

The Clowater Crisis Program

Guest Post by one of my students – Tushar Bharadia @tusharbharadia

Imagine you walk into your college, you’re sitting in your class, and all of a sudden you hear the fire alarm and everyone starts to panic. What do you do? Well by taking The Clowater Crisis Program you, yes you fellow PR friend, can learn how to handle and control a crisis situation! Whether it be your college burning down or a campaign that you’re working on spiral out of control on Twitter, The Clowater Crisis Program will prepare you for the worst case scenario and properly help you send out your messages.

Clowater is his name and crisis communications is his game. In The Clowater Crisis Program, you will be placed in a classroom setting where you have to create a communications team of five people. Your group’s task will be to create a communication plan during a live crisis simulation.

The crisis: Fire! Fire! Fire!
There is a huge fire at your school and it’s spreading fast throughout the area. People are in disarray as there is no communication between handled with students, media, and the community.

There will be live updates on the fire from Clowater throughout the hour.

Your task: Communicate Crisis
Your task is to create a crisis communication strategy to properly communicate with stakeholers, media, and the general public.

The first thing you will want to do is research who needs to be communicated – the audience.
1. Stakeholders
2. Media
3. Public (community)

After you find out your audience, then come up with key messages. As a communicator you have to remember how you want the situation to be perceived.

  • when writing key messages, target each of your messages towards the specific audience.

So for stateholders they need to know how much damage there is (all about the money and give details).

Media they need to know if everyone is safe and that the crisis is being handled quickly. I suggest writing to-the-point and keep it very brief. Everybody listens to the news, especially breaking news like a fire at a school. No lies, so know what you give them is real. Ensure that you will give up-to-dates information as it develops.

Lastly, the general public needs to know about safety and how much impact it will make in the community. Again, you want to tell them the truth and give details (but not too much). You want to give the surrounding community updates on the fire and trust that the crisis is being taken care of. After that, determine what platforms your team are going to use and who will be in charge of writing what; News releases, social media, emails, etc.

Now I could tell you everything about The Clowater Crisis Program, but where’s the fun in that! This is just one example of what you can expect from The Clowater Crisis Program. Don’t wait until your next campaign has a crisis, take control of the situation fast, smooth, and strategically TODAY!

My Personal Teaching Statement

Teaching students the practice of public relations is rewarding. Using the curriculum I developed also feeds my passion. My background in policing, community relations, public information officer, outdoor leadership, and as public relations counsel helps. Combined they make a perfect mix to teach introductory public relations, corporate communication courses, research, communications management and social media.

Since pursuing a formal public relations education over the last decade, I’ve dedicated my time to coaching, mentoring, teaching, and developing courses and educational materials.

Teaching Experience

My first teaching experience was at the postgraduate level at Seneca College. In 2009, I taught the “Introduction to Research” course and the “Research Project” course in the School of English Studies, Corporate Communication Management Program. It was a baptism by fire as I was responsible for every aspect of running a course, including creating a syllabus, choosing textbooks, developing assignments, supplementary materials, presenting lectures and participating in the promotions board.

In 2010, I taught “Writing for Public Relations I” course at Seneca College.

In 2011, I designed and developed the course syllabi for the “Foundations of Corporate Communications and Public Relations” course as part of the Bachelor of Public Relations degree for Centennial College.

In 2012, The Centre for Creative Communications, Centennial College hired me to teach the “Communication Management” course for the winter term. I particularly enjoyed this foundational course because of the breadth and variety of skills development. September 2012, I taught the “Business for Corporate Communicators” and the “Professional Practice” course. In 2013 I taught the “Communication Management” course a second time with many great elements coming together for very rewarding outcomes for both of sides.

Over the last 12 years in my practice I created teaching materials to develop clients as spokespersons, focus group leaders and to conduct strategic planning and communications audits. In the law enforcement field I developed and delivered the “Covert Video Surveillance” course for the Atlantic Police Academy (1995); I instructed fellow students attending the Institute of Police Technology and Management at the University of Florida in Jacksonville (1995) “The Gentle Art of Persuasion – Verbal Judo Train the Trainer” course as a student presenter. I facilitated this same course with adult learners working in the Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Office for the New Brunswick Department of the Solicitor General. I delivered in-service lectures at the Canadian Police College as a student presenter in the “Multicultural Education Trainers” course (1995).

Teaching is like public relations, it is more than a one-way transmission of information and knowledge, it is a two-way symmetrical interactive process that, engages both the student and teacher in shared discovery and application.

Teaching Philosophy

The most important thing that we can teach public relations students is the ability to think critically and strategically. My experience has been that public relation students tend to be in the course because of their interest in the subject and they are easy to teach. However not all students arrive in the classroom in this state of mind. I take the responsibility to present the material in an interesting and engaging manner to nurture each student’s latent desire to learn. Illustrating to students how the Public Relations process works and its applicability in solving concrete and real-world problems.

It is important to teach students how to approach the subject. This is especially true for the introductory level courses. Public Relations and Corporate Communications courses build on Bloom’s taxonomy where they don’t just have the ability to remember facts, but take them through understanding to where they can apply it to communications, and to analyze the problems critically so they can evaluate and create a plan that meets the needs of the situation or problem.

Teaching Style

My personal style of teaching is based on the following principles:

Engage the students. Students must be active participants in the learning process, rather than passive observers.

Establish fair and clear grading policies. Despite our best efforts to inspire students to learn simply for the joy of learning, there will always be many students who focus primarily on whatever aspects of the material they believe will result in their receiving a good grade. However, this is not always a bad thing, the proper grading and assessment policies can guide these students to focus their attention on the essential points.

It is also important that grading policies be fair and relevant to the objectives of the course; few things are more discouraging to students than receiving a low grade for work that they believe is good. Grading standards must also be flexible.

Set clear and realistic goals. Students respond best to goals that are both challenging and achievable. For example, extremely easy assignments are boring, allow students to become careless, and do not give the students any sense of accomplishment. In contrast, excessively difficult assignments are frustrating and intimidating.

Identify and fix misconceptions early. Once a misconception takes root, it is difficult to remove. Waiting until the next assignment or test has been graded to discover that students are confused is a grave mistake.

Let the students make mistakes. Learning what doesn’t work is just as important as learning what does. Students learn more from understanding why an incorrect answer is wrong than from simply memorizing the correct answer. Experimentation is essential to education; students must be encouraged to learn from their mistakes.

Always respect the students. A teacher must respect the goals, needs, and individuality of each student and help each student do his or her best to achieve these goals. Not all students respond to the same methods, come from the same background, or have the same level of preparation.

Teachers must also respect that students have other interests and engage in time-consuming activities outside of the classroom; there are limits to how much time students can reasonably be expected to spend on one course.

My role in teaching is that of a guide, facilitating the learning experience….directing. Through case studies and the use of best practices gleaned from cases that have won awards from our professional organizations like CPRS, IABC and PRSA.

Course Development

Creating new assignments is important and challenging but it is also the most interesting and rewarding part of course development. Good assignments must be interesting and relevant in order to engage the students, and they must match the ability and background of the students. Assignments must also be written in a manner that explains clearly, concisely, completely and coherently what the students are expected to do and how their answers will be evaluated. In most cases, assignments must also provide some amount of guidance about how the concepts the students have been learning can help them complete the assignment.

The best way to organize and structure my lectures is to begin by asking myself what questions I want to enable the students to answer. I usually work back from where I want students to be upon conclusion of the course, then, develop the stepping stones, or the bridge that will get them there. So we are not only building bridges in the classroom but building a bridge to their chosen career.

Centennial’s Signature Learning Experience – Journal of Global Citizenship & Equity Education

Centennial’s Signature Learning Experience – Journal of Global Citizenship & Equity Education.

Centennial’s Signature Learning Experience – Journal of Global Citizenship & Equity Education

I look at my learning to teach journey through the lens of my passion, combining Public Relations and teaching.

You all have an idea what teaching is, but let me give you an idea about PR:

Public relations is the strategic management of relationships between an organization and its diverse publics, through the use of communication, to achieve Mutual understanding, realize organizational goals and serve the public interest. (Flynn, Gregory & Valin, 2008)

I want to talk about part of this definition, “public interest”. This means that we serve and look after the welfare of the general public in which the whole society has a stake.

I believe when you serve the public interest you can’t help but embrace or serve in the capacity of a global citizen. Global citizenship means to possess the values, ethics, identity, social justice perspective, intercultural skills, and sense of responsibility to act with a global mindset.

So where am I going with this?

I tell my public relations students they are consumers and producers of research. Peer reviewed journals are at the top of the food chain when it comes to quality produced research and citation.

The Journal of Global Citizenship & Equity Education is our own. The vision is to create a leading edge academic journal on the topics of global citizenship and equity. The goal is to provide a place for academics and researchers to share their findings.
Students can benefit from this…..

As Ann Buller the President of Centennial College says “We want our students to: Better appreciate the role they can play in addressing challenges in the world today. Be equipped with the critical thinking skills necessary to work together in today’s multicultural and multinational business environment. Learn about the global issues of our time. Show compassion for people in our community and other communities. Take action to improve our lives, our community and the global community.”

These are issues that are relevant to public relations and fit with our mandate, our purpose to serve the public interest as a global citizen.

As a teacher in the Public Relations Program I stand to benefit. I am facilitating a learning experience for my students. As a manager of people and as an instructor it is not about me any longer. It is about developing your subordinates, your students and setting them up for success. The by-product of this unselfish act feeds my need. It validates me and rewards me by helping me to realize my own self-actualisation, personal growth and fulfillment. (Maslow, 1940)

One way I can connect this to the public relations program is…as a teaching tool. For instance the writing and citation style used in social science research is APA. (American Psychological Association) This becomes a great teaching tool. It is a potential outlet for our students writing, for their research and their reviews. To have this quality of journal in our midst can bestow prestige, credibility and build capacity in our students.

The Journal of Global Citizenship & Equity Education is an aspect of Centennial’s Signature Learning Experience that instructors need to visit. Once you have I hope you feel compelled to subscribe and become a registered user. I have and I took the next step with the intent to submit items to the journal.

References
Brigham, M. (2011). Creating a Global Citizen and Assessing Outcomes. Journal Of Global Citizenship & Equity Education, 1(1). Retrieved March 13, 2013,
from http://journals.sfu.ca/jgcee/index.php/jgcee/article/view/27/10

The Hidden Curriculum at Work

As a professor teaching public relations I tend to wear a suit to most of my classes. To understand my reason for this is to understand the concept of the “hidden curriculum”. My belief is, public relations, is a profession and I should look the part of a professional. I am aware my behaviour in wearing a suit emulates that appearance to my students and sets a standard for them to mimic.

Background

In 1999 I became a student of public relations. Moving from a law enforcement background where a uniform represented part of my authority I entered a post-graduate public relations program. The norm for me was to look the part. Then, it was reinforced. I share this story with my students many times with the intent to set the stage in my class and to motivate them.

The Story

One of my classmates was probably best described as a “party animal”, “not serious” about public relations and generally “unprofessional” for a learner-practitioner in public relations. There was an unspoken yet strongly communicated feeling that his recounting of the previous nights antics was unacceptable in the classroom. I am not sure what made me or others feel this way but I know we did. Was it because there were passive communication cues coming from our instructors? Was there an actual shaking of the instructors head or even a rolling of the eyes? Looking back I can’t be sure. Whatever it was we knew it was not the type of behaviour that instructors condoned. I know I bought in to this and remember thinking “What is he doing here if he is not interested in what is going on? He doesn’t belong here. My preconditioning in policing may have had something to do with this, if you are going to be a professional, you acted the part and looked the part.

Perceptions Changed

Then I shatter this perception by telling my students that this unprofessional and apparent party animal found a role in public relations. He continues in public relations and today fills a Director’s role in Public Relations. This is in an industry whose products are associated with “partying” and having a good time.

My values and beliefs relative to “walking the walk and talking the talk,” were shattered. I have become aware of this unspoken, hidden curriculum within the public relations educational setting and the effect it has had on me. And I try to address it with my story, my experiences, and my awareness of the hidden curriculum in my classroom. I still wear a suit though.

You still only have one chance to make a first great impression. Like the hidden curriculum, it is hard to get away from. The important thing is, knowing that it exists.

Reflection on Constructivism

In public relations when it comes to understanding stakeholders we often think in terms of the acronym WIIFM. Isn’t “What’s in it for me?” a common unspoken question in the minds of many?

One of the ways that I learn is through applying concepts to my own situation. During an assigned reading “Constructivism in Teacher Education: Considerations for Those Who Would Link Practice to Theory” (Abdal-Haqq, 1998) an article on constructivism and also during our class exercises I am thinking, “How can I apply this to my teaching of public relations concepts?” I want my students to get it, and I want to be the best. It is an awesome responsibility to teach these young minds and they will take the knowledge into the field. They need to be prepared to apply the concepts they have learned.

All of that being said and my awareness level being raised I now find articles, conversation and the like on constructivism wherever I turn. One article suggested that by allowing students to contribute or decide on the professional segments to study offers opportunities for a pedagogical constructivist or collaborative approach and thereby helping to get the most out of your students.

According to a study “Constructivism gives students the responsibility for learning and breaks their dependence on instructors, while giving educators the satisfaction of sending students away with skills in critical thinking, collaboration, and self-knowledge. Students become self-directed learners who are better prepared for the lifetime of learning that the real world requires from thoughtful communicators. (Chen et al.,2001, 41)

So without knowing and probably because the program is so well developed I have incorporated this teaching strategy. One way this has been encouraged and facilitated further was to have students interview public relations practitioners with the same professional interests. (Boynton & Knott,  2003, 253) Using guest speakers that share areas of interests to the student has helped me to supplement my teaching.

Now, I want to grow more by developing real world exercises that allow each student’s professional area of interest to be applied and enhance students’ critical thinking skills.

I am looking forward to this stage in my career and developing my abilities, understanding the constructivist approach and engaging students in “active learning.” Student’s interest in public relations coupled with a class constructivist approach during discussion will, I hope, keep them interested, take me away from the “lecture,” approach and answer the WIIFM question. Students will make the learning connection and discoveries to occur spontaneously. I am going to be a better instructor.

Now I am left with another question: Did I get the point for any of this?