Eduardo's Path to Pedagogical Proficiency

April 18, 2024

In British Columbia's post-secondary education system, Eduardo Azmitia (BA ’00, MA ' 02, MEd ’24) emerged as a seasoned figure, navigating the intricacies of economics and leadership instruction for over 15 years. Despite his extensive experience, Eduardo saw a need in his field for a deeper understanding of educational theory and practice, propelling him towards the Faculty of Education at Simon Fraser University.

Before returning to SFU for his master's, Eduardo taught in public and private institutions. He was heavily involved with the Capilano University Faculty Association, participating in several committees and eventually assuming the role of its president. This pivotal moment marked the beginning of Eduardo's journey, and he began to explore the idea of furthering his education.

Eduardo discovered the MEd in Curriculum & Instruction: Post-Secondary Vancouver Community College (VCC)  program around this time, two years into his presidency, and was intrigued. 

Four Reasons Why I Chose the Program: 

  1. Schedule Flexibility: Classes on Friday evenings and Saturdays allowed me to maintain my teaching and union-related activities without significant interference. The program's timing aligned perfectly with my schedule and responsibilities.
  2. Focus on Teaching Practice Improvement: The program emphasized enhancing teaching practice by studying educational theory, philosophy, and reflection. It perfectly balances theory, application, research, training, group discussions, and hands-on learning.
  3. Variety of Courses: The program offered diverse courses, including "Implementation and Evaluation of Educational Programs" and "Selected Problems in Higher Education." This variety boosted my confidence in learning a broad spectrum of subjects and topics, enriching my professional profile, and expanding opportunities in Higher Education.
  4. The Reputation of Instructors: The program boasted instructors, such as Dr. Natalia Gajdamaschko and Dr. Michael Ling, who are well-regarded for their quality instruction and expertise in education. Having attended workshops at SFU's Centre for Teaching Excellence and receiving recommendations from colleagues, I was confident in the calibre of education provided by these instructors.

"All the aspects mentioned before caught my attention," Eduardo recalled. However, the stated goal of improving teaching practice through studying educational theory, philosophy, research, and active application resonated with me."

The program's impact on Eduardo's career and personal development was profound, as he discovered new ways of thinking about curriculum, teaching, and learning. 

"[In my course] with Dr. Gajdamaschko, I found how much I learned when she presented us with the concept and theory of Cultures of Curriculum. It was very impactful," Eduardo reflected. "Before making decisions in my class or workplace, I now seek theories that justify and provide guidance, critique, and then assess and reflect on the outcome. Previously, my approach lacked cohesiveness or theoretical direction, relying more on inspiration and experience."

Under the guidance of Dr. Ling, Eduardo experienced a shift in his teaching practice, fueled by a newfound understanding of identity and culture.

“I have become an educator who now prioritizes developing meaningful relationships with my students,” shares Eduardo. “I allocate time to collectively explore how our identities influence our learning processes and critically analyze how course content can be applied to guide decisions in our lives. Before, I focused solely on covering content during class time, but now, I invest more time in cultivating pedagogical relationships with my students and colleagues and I spend time learning about their educational priorities.” 

As Eduardo's journey unfolded, the program's flexibility proved instrumental in supporting his professional growth. "The flexibility of the program was key," Eduardo emphasized. It allowed an iterative process of reflection and adjustment, as I could bring back to my peers and instructors the results of my application and deliberations during the time between classes."

Looking back on his experience, Eduardo felt a great deal of gratitude for the cohort-based learning environment that enriched his learning experience and facilitated networking opportunities within his field. "There is no doubt that my learning and motivation were potentiated by having the cohort experience," Eduardo remarked. "This truly became a landmark of the learning experience, and I found friends and colleagues for life."

Now, bolstered by newfound confidence and a wealth of knowledge, Eduardo stands ready to embark on the next phase of his career. "The program put me in a position where I want to pursue more formal graduate education," Eduardo shared. 

"I am already beginning to apply the theoretical discussions and reflections from the program in my classes. More importantly, I am integrating a wide range of educational activities and assessments that I observed and experienced from the instructors in the program. I have discovered numerous powerful techniques previously unknown to me, and I now realize their potential and effectiveness.” 

Four Ways the Program Benefitted Me: 

  1. Transformed Teaching Practice: The program facilitated a meaningful change in my teaching approach, resulting in enhanced feedback from students and colleagues.
  2. Strengthened Educational Foundation: Through the program, I acquired a robust educational background, which empowered me to engage in more profound conversations with administrators and facilitated richer interactions.
  3. Empowered Union Engagement: Armed with a newfound understanding of educational theories and approaches, I became more effective and focused on planning, designing, and executing union education activities.
  4. Expanded Administrative Insight: The program expanded my administrative insight, broadening my awareness of administrators' challenges. It equipped me to emerge as a proactive, collaborative, and dialogical leader within the faculty association.

Eduardo offers some simple yet thoughtful advice for professionals considering further education to advance their careers: "To definitely take this program and keep a diary documenting your experiences throughout. It will change how you approach teaching, expanding your career opportunities and ability to network within academic and educational circles." 

Discover how the MEd in Curriculum & Instruction: Post-Secondary (VCC) can empower you to transform teaching and learning in B.C.

Learn more about the program, how to apply, and register for an upcoming information session here