All posts by Isabeau Iqbal

Inclusive Meetings for Professionals


I recently attended “A Guide to Inclusive Meetings for Professionals” facilitated by Cicely Belle Blain (love their name!).

My goal was, of course, to learn more about this topic so that I can create, host, and lead more inclusive meetings.

One of my favourite ways of processing information is to write about what I’ve learned. To that end, here are a few notes from the workshop.

Inclusive meetings are needs-based, foster trust and honour intersectionality

Some questions to ask myself when I design a meeting:

  • If trust is built when people’s needs are heard and met, how do I determine people’s needs and then help them meet these?
  • If trust is built when people are able to contribute, what do I need to do to allow for this?
  • How do I plan for and foster trust within my meeting design?


The facilitator created a helpful visual that summarizes 3 types of power: social, systemic and personal.

(shared with permission from the facilitator)

Inclusive meetings redistribute power 

Personal power is the easiest to re-distribute. Therefore, we need to think about how we can instill personal power onto others. The facilitator provided some ideas:

Ways to redistribute power

  • Collaborate on the agenda
  • Notice what is selected as a priority and what is put on hold. Question.
  • Value lived experience as knowledge
  • Take a needs-based focus
  • Practice mentorship as a value rather than restricting it to a formal process

Practicing mentorship as a value, within the context of inclusive meetings, can look like:

  • recognize when to advocate
  • notice harmful dynamics and step in
  • uplift and spotlight others’ ideas
  • give frequent and consistent praise
  • help other prepare for a meeting and debrief
  • give people time to plan

Honouring people’s lived experiences in a meeting 

  • honour what people bring
  • accept (welcome) vulnerability and chaos (e.g., working from home during COVID)
  • encourage sharing personal stories
  • open with a meaningful check-in and close with inspiring check-out
  • affirm people’s decisions around boundaries (note: we have a lot of notions about what “professionalism” looks like)

Needs-based resources in a meeting

  • ensure people have the right set up to be present
  • schedule when it works for people
  • encourage feedback during and after
  • circulate the agenda
  • be willing to shift and change plans
  • allow people to participate in a way that makes sense for them

Favourite quote from the workshop

“Urgency is often more of a mentality than a reality”

Unconscious Bias 

  • Deeply rooted
  • We can’t eradicate

Question to ask yourself: “Do you hold onto that bias because it keeps you safe or because it keeps you comfortable?”

Some forms of bias

  1. HIPPO Bias (looking to the highest paid person for their opinion)
  2. Affinity Bias (seeking comfort in those who are like us)
  3. Confirmation bias (We seek answers we already believe are true)
  4. Dunning-Kruger Effect (Overconfidence in skills we lack)
  5. Bandwagon Bias (We’re more likely to believe something if many others believe it too)

Biases don’t have to be harmful, but they can be. The intention is often to preserve status quo.

Workshop follow up resources

  1. Detour spotting (form of micro aggression; “Attitudes or behaviours that signal a detour or wrong turn into shame, denial or defensiveness” – Jona Olsson). See the Cultural Bridges to Justice Website
  2. White supremacy characteristics
  3. Book: Crucial conversations

EDC 2021 Conference Take-aways

I attended parts of the online Educational Developers Caucus Conference Celebrating, Connecting, and Caring for Ourselves in February.

I challenged myself to publicly post a few take-aways from each session because I wanted to share my learning and figured this would be a good strategy to help me stay present at the sessions.

Here are the sessions I attended:

Contract positions in educational development

Keynote presenters: Tim Loblaw & Ruth Rodgers

Show and tell videos

Caring for our community: When will wellbeing be a priority?

Keynote presenters: Klodiana Kolomitro & Natasha Kenny

  • Padlet link:


6 tips for starting a mastermind group in higher education

people participating in a facilitated meetingOver the past few years, I have participated in and facilitated several different types of mastermind groups (MMG) within and outside of higher education. (If you are not sure what a MMG is, see my earlier post here).

Most recently, I designed and co-facilitated an in-person MMG for educators in the first-year experience (FYE). The group was open to anyone who identified as an educator of students who are in their first year of an undergraduate degree. In this particular offering, there were 9 participants and the group was comprised of faculty members and staff at the University of British Columbia (Vancouver campus).

Given my positive experience with MMG, and the growing interest within the POD Network, I wanted to share some resources that will help you start your own.

Tips for the set-up phase

Here is a list of tips I have compiled to make the facilitator’s life easier in the setup phase:

1. Be as clear as possible about the purpose of the MMG when you advertise it. See here for how we articulated the purpose and structure for the MMG for FYE. In your introductory text, you may wish to:

  • define what a MMG is and isn’t (and, possibly, address some people’s aversion to the term?)
  • briefly explain what a spotlight is since it is a key feature of MMG

2. Once you have determined the purpose of your MMG, decide on the number of meetings and frequency of your meetings. We found that 4 meetings, every 2 weeks, worked well for this MMG. Meeting every 2 weeks allow the group’s energy to be sustained without overwhelming people with weekly commitments.

3. Set meeting dates/times ahead of time if (like me) you have an aversion to Doodle polls and to spending a lot of time trying to accommodate multiple people’s schedules. I found it easier to have the dates/times (and room bookings) pre-determined so that potential participants could easily ascertain whether they were available.

4. Begin to advertise the MMG approximately 2 months before the start date. This will give you a chance to promote it, answer questions from interested parties, and will augment the chances that people can block off the time in their calendar.

5. Consider a 2-step application process. For the MMG for Educators in the FYE, the first step asked potential participants to confirm that they could make 3 of the 4 meetings and that they were, in fact, actively involved in the FYE. The second step allowed me to reach back out to people and clarify anything that needed clarification and/or to immediately “accept” their application. See here for the wording/messaging that appeared on the CTLT website.

6. Specify whether the group is closed or open and who (if anyone) has permission to invite other participants. My preference is for a closed group that is consistent throughout the duration of the MMG.

I will be sharing more in a future post. If you have any questions, please reach out to me at isabeau(dot)iqbal(at)ubc(dot)ca. I am sure I’ve forgotten some details that would be helpful to others.

Connected Teaching (short book review)

This post was written for “What we’re reading“, a feature in the UBC Centre for Teaching, Learning and Technology’s Dialogues newsletter.

It is a short review of “Connected Teaching” by Harriet Schwartz, PhD.

Book cover for Connected Teaching by Harriet Schwartz


In post-secondary teaching and learning, relationships matter.

They matter as much as (and possibly more than) course design, proper use of technology and other elements we typically associate with promoting understanding and “good teaching.”

Given my interest in the role of emotions in teaching and learning, I was eager to read Connected Teaching by Harriet Schwartz, PhD.

This book addresses the significance of the connection between students and faculty members and explores “teaching as a relational practice.” Drawing from Relational Cultural Theory (a theory Schwartz helps her reader learn about throughout the book), the author argues that “we are at our best when we have the capacity to engage and maintain growth-fostering relationships”. These relationships need not be long-term and can occur even in a single meaningful interaction.

Connected teaching, Schwartz describes, consists of five elements: energy, knowledge, sense of worth, action and desire for more connection. She proposes that care, presence, invitation and enthusiasm are essential elements of connected teaching because they convey to students that they matter and that their challenges are real.

What I especially appreciated about this book is that Schwartz does not depict connection as an easy process or a given. She writes honestly about disconnection, power, shame, blind spots and boundaries. That is, she is upfront about the challenges involved as we aim to build connection(s) with our learners.

What remains most with me about this book is Schwartz’s compelling messages about mattering and how it is central to connected teaching. Her work echoes other scholars’ work (see, for example, The Undergraduate Experience: Focusing Institutions on What Matters Most by Felten et al.), who have highlighted the importance of creating a sense of belonging to student learning. To “matter,” reminds Schwartz, is to feel we have a place in others’ lives, and our presence makes a difference to them.

If you are keen to explore the role of connection in teaching and learning, I recommend Connected Teaching.

Interested in learning more about Connected Learning before reading the book? Listen to this Teaching in Higher Ed podcast episode where Harriet Schwartz discusses her book.

Schwartz, H. L. (2019). Connected Teaching: Relationship, Power, and Mattering in Higher Education. Stylus Publishing, LLC.

Teaching philosophy statements – Q&A with faculty members

I facilitated a short session on teaching philosophy statements (TPS) for participants in the Teaching Development Program (TDP) for New Faculty.

Based on requests from the TDP cohort members, I focussed specifically on:

  1. Looking at examples of strong TPSs
  2. Identifying belief statements in the opening and body of the 4 selected TPS samples
  3. Identifying alignment between beliefs and statements of evidence (evidence being “how I enact my beliefs”).

During the session, participants asked a number of questions. I have captured these questions and my brief responses below in case they may be helpful to others.

Q: How do I make my TPS different from other people’s TPSs? I’m worried that mine will read like everybody else’s.

ii: I guarantee that your TPS will be unique! Because you bring your own experiences, your disciplinary background, and your own content to the TSP—not to mention your personal writing style—it will read differently than your peers’ EVEN if you share similar beliefs.

Q: How many beliefs is too many or too few to include in a TPS?

ii: There is no specific number of beliefs that a reader expects to see in a TPS. Thinking in terms of themes may be helpful; you may want to use headers to guide your reader.

Q: How much do we need to ground our TPS in research/literature, or is it truly what I think and have done?

ii: The emphasis should be on what you think and have done. However, it is considered good practice to integrate a few references to the pedagogical literature as this shows that you take a scholarly approach to your teaching.

Q: Is it better to err on the side of using general terms or providing specific examples? For example, does it suffice to say that I use experiential education approaches or should be get specific?

ii: My preference is for the author to include a few specific examples that help me “see” them in action. If, for example, you use “experiential education” in your teaching, provide a specific example as evidence for how it aligns with your beliefs about teaching and learning and/or your beliefs about knowledge.

Q: Is it good practice to provide excerpts and detailed examples of what we’ve done?

Detailed examples will go into your appendices or in the Teaching Activities section of your dossier.

Q: Should we include a future looking statement?

ii: Many people highlight their goals and commitment to continuous growth in their teaching philosophy statement. Some people have it in the TPS and as a section of their teaching dossier. I like seeing a short version in the TPS and a more expanded version in the full dossier. Again, that’s my preference. It doesn’t mean that’s the “right” way to do it.

Q: Do I need to provide a summary statement in my TPS?

No, you don’t.