• Sarah Ballam

    Learning to Teach

    Portrait of Sarah Ballam.
    Sarah Ballam
    Training and Development

    Financial educator constantly uses training and development course skills

    Sarah Ballam has always aspired to build her career around teaching others, so working as a financial education specialist at Manulife seemed like a perfect fit. But while working with corporate customers to improve the financial knowledge of their employees, Sarah realized she could use her own refresher in working with adult learners.

    I had been taking classes to improve my industry knowledge and Toastmasters to help my public speaking, but I knew I needed more of a foundation in adult learning theory, says Sarah. I needed to further explore how best to teach, inform, and inspire the people in my education sessions.

    Having taken several of our Wine Specialist Certificate courses, Sarah was familiar with the variety of Continuing Education offerings at George Brown. She’d come across our Instructing Adults Certificatebut her decision to pursue it was not based on familiarity – she was most impressed with our certificate after investigating all her options.

    “I’ve seen a big shift in the past six to nine months in how I deliver training and how I engage my audience. It’s completely changed my view of how I think we should be doing things, which is really what I wanted. The awesome thing about this program is we learn a lot of little things that help change how we do our job – small things that overall make us better facilitators and better trainers.”

    I did a lot of research into the different schools who offer this program to figure out what would work best for me, in terms of schedule, location, finances and what would give me the best experience, explains Sarah. George Brown College’s Instructing Adults Certificate is recognized by the Canadian Society for Training and Development – they are the gold standard in terms of training in Canada.

    The flexibility of George Brown’s continuing education approach has also proved to be an asset, given that Sarah’s work schedule can be 24/7 at times.

    I can register for one class at a time – this offers me the ultimate flexibility to arrange my schedule around other commitments and helps with financing the courses, as you pay on an as-you-register basis, she says. I can also take a break from the program if I have a busy schedule for a few months and resume coursework the next semester.

    Sarah is making her way through the required Training and Development courses for the Instructing Adults Certificate, and has already noticed she is constantly using skills she picked up in her classes.

    I’ve seen a big shift in the past six to nine months in how I deliver training and how I engage my audience. It’s completely changed my view of how I think we should be doing things, which is really what I wanted, says Sarah. The awesome thing about this program is we learn a lot of little things that help change how we do our job – small things that overall make us better facilitators and better trainers.

    Sarah says she’s also impressed with the quality of her instructors.

    All our teachers absolutely love what they do, says Sarah. They hold full-time jobs within the field and all have a different approach and skill sets. They’ve been really great.

    Armed with confidence, Sarah looks forward to continuing to bridge the gap between her studies and career.

    I live by the philosophy that there is always room for improvement, and the Instructing Adults program has given me the foundation to understand where and why I can make improvements in my current role, says Sarah. Not only have my courses impacted how I do my job day to day, they have inspired me to make a number of suggestions within my workplace about how we create and disseminate financial education. I very much look forward to continuing the coursework in this program and further improving how I go about doing my job!