I interviewed (via Zoom) one of the registrants for the 2015 ISW Spring Institute – Ron Johnson, ISW Facilitator, retired from BCIT’s Learning and Teaching Centre (as Instructional Development Consultant) and currently consulting from Penticton, B.C.
What do you value about attending Spring Institutes?
Ron: I’ve always enjoyed the Spring Institutes. I’ve been to most of them for the last 15 years; I’ve been to all the ones in Eastern Canada as well as most of the ones in Western Canada.
The primary thing I find valuable is meeting with people who have a commitment to learning – to active learning and quality teaching. I enjoy being able to share ideas and discussions, to make connections. It’s always interesting that through the ISW it turns out that we know people in many of the institutions not only in BC, but Alberta, Ontario, Nova Scotia and a lot of places around the world.
Another thing I like is the flexibility. We have a lot of people there with a lot of expertise and a lot of people with a lot of interest. We manage to merge them in what’s called an “emerging agenda” and myself, I’ve taken advantage of that several times when I was interested in a concept. For example, we were trying to develop a statement on “what are the qualities or characteristics of a good facilitator”. I brought that to the Institute and instantly I had an expert group giving ideas and feedback. It was just a great experience.
I’m particularly looking forward to the upcoming Spring Institute as I’ve been doing a lot of thinking in terms of teaching and assessment in the affective domain, which is difficult for a lot of people. I’ve offered to lead a discussion on that and I’m hoping to contribute ideas and receive a lot of information from the group.
This year’s event (Spring Institute) is in Nova Scotia, and there’s going to be a focus on Appreciative Inquiry among other things. Is there anything you’re particularly looking forward to about this year’s event?
Ron: I’ve been involved with Appreciative Inquiry since I took a course with Charles Miller and Nancy Stetson – quite a while ago. I try to use it every time I work on something new. For example, a project I’m working on right now involves traffic control people and one of the questions was on how to handle some of the classroom management issues. I immediately went back to that AI approach, and suggested, “Let’s look at it from an appreciative point of view – how can we look at what is a good way of operating together and what is effective so that we can share something positive rather than a whole list of “don’t do this and don’t do that”.
So I’m really looking forward to refreshing my knowledge of AI because I’ve used it in a general way but to I want to get more of a detailed perspective and a reminder of how to make effective use of the Appreciative Inquiry method.
This year the Spring Institute will be hosted at Tatamagouche, Nova Scotia. Have you been there before?
Ron: I haven’t been there. I have gone through Nova Scotia once by motorcycle, but I haven’t spent time there – we just kind of rode through So I’m really looking forward to spending a little time in Halifax and Tatamagouche is a whole new area. It looks beautiful and I’m looking forward to it.
If you’d like to share why you’re attending the Spring Institute (or what you value about Spring Institutes, please contact Sylvia Riessner at sylviar at northwestel dot net)