The Need for Balance

The Need for Balance

“Focused” (high content wolf-dog) taken at Yamnuska Wolf-Dog Sanctuary, October 2017. Photo: Sharon Rhodes.

Director of Schools – As an educator, I have always believed in the concept of “lifelong learning” and have, throughout my career, challenged myself to continue to learn and improve. Over the past couple of years, I have taken a keen interest in taking good photographs, so as an educator, it seemed only fitting that I take some courses in photography to improve my skill. Now, don’t get me wrong; I never signed up to become the next Ansel Adams. I just want my photos to look like what I see so I don’t have to explain what the fuzzy blob in the centre of the picture is!

As the student, being an educator gives you a very different perspective on learning. I find that I am often assessing the lesson plan, or the assignments, or even the final assessment. I hold it up to what I know and value as an educator and measure it against the standards that we have set as a division.

In some of the courses I have taken, the instructor has inspired me and really allowed me to tap into my passion. The course has been designed in such a way that there is a mix of information and hands-on experiential learning, and it provides for personalization. For example, I was excited to be out in the mountains at sunrise on a Saturday to get the “perfect” shot at daybreak. Or tromping around at daybreak in the bush in thigh-deep snow to possibly get a picture of a bull moose! Seriously… on a Saturday. And I hate getting up early on the weekend!

“The Three Bears” taken at Churchill, MB, November 2016. Photo: Sharon Rhodes.

A few courses were less than engaging. One course had mostly lecture and little hands-on. In another, learning the Photoshop program (I use “learning” loosely here), the instructor presented the information in rapid-fire format, jumping from one concept to another so quickly that there was barely time to blink to re-hydrate my eyes! Needless to say, I didn’t learn a whole lot. Thank goodness for manuals and YouTube videos!

My point is that, for a student (any student), we really need to present information in a balanced, engaging way – offering as many hand-on opportunities as possible to reinforce the learning and allowing the student to present their learning in a personalized way that ignites the passion of the learning. I don’t remember much about the Photoshop course and often consult other resources to get me through. Yet I still get extremely excited about planning my Saturdays and getting up before the sunrise to get photos of the next “thing” on my list!