Meet our Team is an ongoing blog series that features Bow Valley College faculty and staff.
Michael Graham is an Educational Assistant who works at Bow Valley College's Tutorial Centre, acting as a resource to support instructors and learners.
A typical workday can find him in a few different teaching‐learning situations. He most often meets with learners in the Tutorial Centre. These sessions may involve one learner or a small group looking to gain a better understanding of a grammar point, discover some tips to improve their pronunciation, or find additional resources that they can use for self‐study. Depending on the day, he may also find himself in a classroom, assisting an instructor with a small group or an individual learner to facilitate more directed lessons within the classroom setting. When he’s not with learners, he looks to find and compile resources to use in future appointments.
What do you like most about your job?
I feel very fortunate to develop relationships with so many amazing people who teach and inspire me every day.
What’s one thing that you’ve learned since working here?
I have learned to try and distill the material that I deliver. Since my time moves between such a large spectrum of learners and is a relatively short period of time, it is vital for me to have material and intention that is focused on maximizing my time. This has meant that I am fairly picky with the resources that I choose, trying to make them as adaptable as I can so that they can be used with a variety of learners.
What do you value most about your colleagues?
I value the passion that they put into fully utilizing the knowledge and experience on offer at the College. The collaboration amongst individuals is something that has been readily apparent to me from my first day in the Centre.
Who is an educator that has impacted your life?
I am still learning a great deal from the work of Stephen Jenkinson.
What are three traits that are important in your role?
I need to be flexible because I don’t have identical days very often. I meet with learners from various programs and know that the majority of requests that I receive are time sensitive. This has meant that I need to be able to shift my time, focus, and energy with some regularity.
Being approachable is vital to my role because some learners can be a little apprehensive about coming into the Tutorial Centre. Ensuring that people feel welcome, comfortable, and heard is something that I strive to accomplish every day.
Perhaps most important is staying organized with the many facets of my role. I have been thrilled with the interest from both learners and instructors in coming to the Tutorial Centre but it means that I have to prepare myself for a variety of situations and remember a lot of names!
What is your favourite go‐to resource?
I find myself using Google image search on my tablet or the Oxford Picture Dictionary in a variety of situations.
Can you describe an aha moment you have experienced in your role?
A moment that sticks out for me occurred when I used manipulatives while working with a learner to investigate their writing. We were looking at addressing the use of adverb clauses and how the words in the clause modify another word in a sentence. It wasn’t until the learner was able to physically take the language apart and really get a sense of how the words were working together that it began to make sense for them. I really understood then how important it is to try to enable language to exist in a variety of ways in order for learners to be successful.
What do you want to learn this year?
I would like to improve my ability to diagram sentences.
What is your favourite book?
One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Name one thing about yourself that most people don’t know.
I walked a catwalk for Versace many moons ago.