Members of our team have been working on a pilot project to migrate aspects of our teaching and learning professional development offering to an online, self-paced, asynchronous format to better support our faculty, staff, and students with busy schedules.
Even though I have been facilitating blended Instructional Skills Workshop (ISW) for a few years, it was a steep learning curve for me to learn how to design a completely stand-alone module online with interactive mechanisms for feedback and/or assessment. It quickly became apparent that my familiarity with the subject matter prevented me to recognizing what is easy and what is difficult for those who are beginning to teach – I had to actively check my own needs to share other interesting relevant concepts and return to those that are aligned with learning objectives. The design process was also challenged by my typical experience of working in a face-to-face format – I found myself having to acquire additional pedagogical content knowledge (Shulman, 1986, 1987) to effectively support learning in a fully online asynchronous format. One of my mentor suggested that I “role play” and really put on the participants’ perspectives when reviewing and revising the online content!
So far, we have developed foundational content intended for those who are beginning to teach and are looking to learn core components of lesson planning. We are launching our pilot this week, with the intention to seek participants’ thoughtful feedback to better support their teaching and learning professional development goals and needs.
Overall, I think I leveraged my strengths well in streamlining the process of planning, coordination, and execution of the CTLT Institutes. With the implementation of a Call for Contributions process, we were able to invite proposals from a broader community of educators and to select quality proposals that supported participants to engage in innovative, evidence-based approach of teaching and learning within their own contexts. As well, we collected relevant information for marketing (e.g., Twitter handles) and event logistics (e.g., technology requirements) to minimize internal communication load. We also designed session evaluation forms that invited balanced participant feedback, with language that aligned with our institution’s tenure and promotion criteria to better acknowledge the invaluable contributions of our Institute Facilitators. My hope is to continue to clarify expectations and to improve these processes in order to elevate the brand of CTLT Institutes within our teaching and learning community.
I enjoy the freedom to be creative and to initiate new projects on my own with goals to contribute to our teaching and learning community; my role continues to evolve and shift as I stretch into different learning zones. I also appreciate the various invitations to collaborate on projects with my colleagues; to me, these aren’t just another learning opportunity, these are my colleagues’ recognition of my skills and gentle encouragements to deepen my ED practice. While I have the energy and enthusiasm to inject into my role, I am also learning to pause, observe, activate my curiosity (rather than reacting with judgment), and ask more questions before diving in. One of the biggest learning curve is navigating the complex organization, along with its own historical contexts and invisible cultures. My manager, colleagues, and collaborators are important resources that I need to seek out more strategically in supporting my development as a novice ED. I am grateful for the patience, generosity, and kindness that they have shown me as I stumble and fall. It is my intention to be more mindful of and to develop more awareness around the impact of my presence and behaviour on others.
“A mastermind group is created when two or more people come together to work towards a purpose. Individual members set goals and seek to accomplish these. Meetings provide support in a group setting and often involve feedback, brainstorming, sharing resources and peer accountability.” – Dr. Isabeau Iqbal
It was such a honour and privilege to collaborate with Dr. Isabeau Iqbal in facilitating the 2018 EDC Not Just Another Webinar – How to use Mastermind Groups in Educational Development. We shared our respective experiences with the use of a mastermind group (MMG) to complete an internal project – highlighting the collaborative, supportive, and inclusive learning environment for all involved. We collaborated with the EDC community to generate ideas on the use of MMG in our respective contexts and developed strategies to address anticipated challenges associated with structuring and facilitating MMG.
It was so fun, energizing, and validating to engage with such a lively audience at such an early stage of my ED career. I am grateful for the wonderful opportunity to contribute to the ED community and to learn from such a thoughtful mentor!
We have prepared a list of resources and curated a list of participant-generated response and questions during the session on Padlet.
Institute Facilitators – faculty, staff, and students alike – contribute immensely to the professional development of our teaching and learning community at UBC. The Institute Facilitators inspire, engage, and challenge participants to improve their teaching practice and to enhance student learning and experiences. Other than saying “Thank You” in the most sincere manner I know and hoping that these words resonate with our Institute Facilitators, we did not have any real mechanism to acknowledge their commitment and dedication in sharing their valuable time, experience, and expertise over the years.
We have implemented a few strategies to make our appreciation more visible:
Facilitation Development Workshop Series
This is a creative space for me to deepen my own facilitation practice and to challenge our Institute Facilitators to experiment/explore with new facilitation techniques. My goal for hosting this workshop series is to provide a place of gathering for our community of Institute Facilitators to engage in meaningful peer-learning, knowledge-sharing, collaboration, and innovation around teaching and learning. The rationale for developing and delivering these facilitation development workshop series was discussed previously in Developing the Institute Facilitators post.
Session-Specific Participant Feedback Summary
Deep learning requires time to digest, reflect and practice. In order to contribute to longer term learning, we need feedback when there is a realistic prospect for us to do something with them. At the end of each Institute, I work to summarize participant feedback from each session and to share the synthesized feedback with their respective facilitator (team) within two-three days. We hope that our Institute Facilitators would use these additional information to inform their own reflections. We also invite them to connect with us, should they want to debrief their experiences and/or seek further support in deepening their own professional development.
Institute Facilitators Recognition Website
While it is great to express our gratitude by directly engage with our Institute Facilitators and supporting their professional development needs, we need to help the larger teaching and learning community at UBC to value and appreciate their work and service. One of our first steps is to create a Facilitators’ Recognition Page on the CTLT Institute Website, featuring a curated list of our (almost 300) facilitators, a Q&A section for individuals considering to become an Institute Facilitator, and a growing resources portal for our Institute Facilitators.
We continue to explore ways to show our gratitude and welcome your suggestions!
Hord and colleagues identified key features of collegial learning communities: supportive and shared leadership, collective learning, shared values and vision, supportive conditions, and shared personal practice (1998). Our Institute programming integrates many of the features mentioned above to invite changes in participants’ teaching practices and offers relevant and diverse professional development opportunities; however, participants’ need to be connected with one another and to engage in conversations with their peers does not seems to be adequately addressed in its current format as a series of workshops.
Seeing that the participants have already committed their time to attend the Institute, one strategy to maximize the value of these face-to-face meetings is to build-in opportunities for meaningful interaction to foster a sense of belonging to the larger teaching and learning community – with goals to increase faculty interest in teaching and learning, as well as to provide a supportive space for faculty to explore, evaluate, and adopt new instructional practices and tools (Cox, 2001). As well, Palmer (1999) strongly supports collegial socialization as a core component of professional development programs.
Thus, the Space of Connection was developed to provide an unstructured space for participants to continue to engage in the rich teaching and learning conversations that emerged during workshops, to integrate their learning into their own contexts before returning attention to other commitments, and to simply connect with one another throughout the Institute.
The general features of the Space of Connection include:
reflection question on flipcharts relating to sessions on offer that day to invite participant responses,
a general handout designed to support participants’ process in implementing new teaching techniques/strategies in their teaching contexts, and
chairs in pods for casual conversations and connections.
For the upcoming Summer Institute, I will facilitate a networking session in the Space of Connection to encourage participant reflection (for their learning during the week and relating to their teaching practice beyond the Institute) and to set the tone for the week – inviting peer-to-peer learning, promote relationship building, and knowledge sharing in an unstructured space. I am eager to see how the participants utilize this space and to hear their thoughts/experience/feedback!