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Grenada: Teachable Moments in the Island of Spice

Where to begin – the blizzard on the Friday when we 3 left for the airport?  I for one felt somewhat uncertain about flights, arrivals, baggage, delays, clothes etc.  Or was it the sense of relief upon arriving in 28 degree heat?   Perhaps it was the ambiguity of who was doing what, when, where and how around our “learning program”.  Of course we all see ourselves as professionals wanting to do our very best and we are not necessarily in full control of some very ambiguous situations.

First thoughts rise to mind – slow down, relax, rely on your trusted companions and friends and stop trying to be in charge of what you cannot control – trust others, yourself and the sound processes of learning which includes the wisdom of others.  Easier said than done, but I consciously worked on letting go of the impossible and worked with the possible.  Needless to say our mission was highly successful, fun, engaging and appreciated by all participants.

That is not to say it was without its unexpected challenges from which I learned more about myself and others.  For example, day one of our teaching schedule was hectic – trying to sort groups, materials, more people than expected etc.  The small group of faculty I was working with was not happy, they were stressed, unfamiliar with the process, uninformed about the week and generally agitated.  By the end of the day they were near revolt and complaining loudly about the format of the course, the requirement to attend, the timing, the inconvenience etc.  Hard not to personalize this – especially when some of these things are out of one’s control.   As the facilitator I did feel somewhat discouraged and questioned why I was putting myself through this when I could be in a safer, more comfortable place where yes – I think I might just have more control.

It was with a sense of trepidation and a determination to get through this that I approached day 2.  The second micro teaching session on day 2 was titled, “Dealing With Student Complaints”.  The faculty member engaged all of us in a guided discussion for 12 minutes on the “Teachable Moment”.  These are the moments when students complain and get out of control and the teacher is perplexed, anxious and wants to reestablish control.  She walked us through the emotions and the strategies associated with “getting over oneself, reframing and listening.  She referred to day 1 and the group’s mini revolt and asked us all to view this as a teachable moment.  The rest is history.  Because of the insight and courage of this faculty member and the group’s dedication to learning the remainder of our week together was very special, supportive and enlightening.  We laughed, we celebrated, we appreciated and we came to know ourselves and each other in authentically.  The revolting group became the advocate group for learning and support.  The teachable moment – let go – listen and appreciate yourself and others and the time you have together. Now to practice what has been learned!

Claudine Lowry

Dean, Organizational Learning

Nova Scotia Community College

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