I am currently finishing up my BC Provincial Instructor Diploma. In writing up my final essay I came across my teaching philosophy statement that I was asked to write when I started the program. This was back in 2017, before I launched Sail Nelson and before I started back down the road to teaching sailing again.

I’m surprised at how much it still resonates with me today. I would have thought that things would have shifted over the years now that I have my school and am teaching in a new environment. Thought it would be something fun to share with you. Enjoy.


What are your objectives in writing the statement?

I am writing a teaching philosophy, as I want to become the best possible instructor for my students. It is often said that the best way to master a subject, is to teach it.

I began teaching sailing at a young age and I accelerated through the teaching levels quickly. I was absorbing everything I could and loving it. I then went off to teach and apply what I had learned. Again, I loved it all! I then realized that I needed to save up money for University as my parents did not have tuition money set aside for me. So, I taught, and taught, and taught, and taught… then it became a job. The love was lost. The lesson plans were recycled, the paychecks were cashed and on to the next class I went. I taught day, night and weekends. Finally, I quit teaching altogether. I went from living on a boat for 5 months of the year to not even stepping on a boat for 5 years. I had officially killed my passion. 

Fast-forward to today and I am now living in Nelson and I am ready to start over. I am ready to re-learn my lessons and to add more flare to them. I have realized that my love of sailing is still there. It was just buried deep.

My objective is to re-write my lessons and to find my fire again and to pass it on to others, bit by bit.

What methods do you use to achieve your objectives?

Sail Canada is the certifying body that I teach for and they provide a tremendous number of resources to us instructors.  I plan to leverage those resources and my contacts within Sail Canada as much as possible. I am hoping to assist to revitalize the sport here in BC. I will focus on the Kootenays and expand over the next few years to surrounding areas. I am currently “testing the waters” so-to-speak with Selkirk College as I can teach through the Community Education department with little risk on my part.

Many of the courses that I will teach can lead to certification through Sail Canada. However, in an effort to make sailing accessible to many different people, I have created smaller courses based on different topics that I think people would be interested in (3-hour courses). I intend on creating specific feedback forms for each course in an effort to solicit as much pertinent feedback as possible from my students.

How do you measure your effectiveness in achieving your objectives?

I measure my success in a few different ways. One area is the direct verbal and non-verbal feedback I get from my students as I am teaching. Do they look engaged? Are they falling asleep? Is there a lot of participation? Etc. I also use feedback forms in my courses. Currently I have a generic Selkirk College feedback form, however I have decided to try and make new forms that are more pertinent to each individual course. I am especially interested in feedback at this point, as these are new courses being offered to the area and I am revamping my lessons, so it is an ideal time to solicit feedback from students.

As noted above, several of the courses will lead to a certification. Therefore, I have a marking rubric that I will be using for theory and practical assessments. I rarely fail people in my courses. Often, if they require extra time on something I will go above and beyond and provide them with extra learning time or one-on-one class time. There are also a couple of textbooks required for the courses and these textbooks have built-in take home assignments and quizzes that the students can work through prior, or during, the courses.

Why is teaching important to you?

This is an interesting question. I teach my children because I love them. I teach my friends because they are interested. But, why do I teach strangers to sail? Why will I live on a boat for a week with four people I know nothing about? I think it is for my love of sailing itself. Sailing is something that brings me closer to my grandfather who taught me how to sail. It was what I spent my summers doing at the cottage that I love. It is where I have felt most at peace with the world around me. It’s what I use to get away if I need to escape the chaos of the city. I enjoy teaching because I enjoy the thought of imparting some of this excitement and peace to others.


So there you have it. My passion is still alive and well and my motivation is still firmly in place. If anything, my love of sailing has increased since I now sail my grandfather’s boat, Spindrift, and I now have a new area to explore. I am looking forward to stepping up and taking on more responsibility with Sail Canada as well, and to helping the organization grow and shift to promote sailing further. Here’s to many more adventures!

Captain Penny

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