Our own Teaching and Learning Group launched Talking about Teaching Brown Bag Lunch Sessions on February 1. The purpose of Talking about Teaching is to create a learning community for our teachers. The initiative brings teachers together, in community, to share things they are doing to engage students, provide opportunities to discuss and model characteristics of quality teaching, to get support with teaching challenges, and to try out new ideas or concepts before introducing them to students. The intention behind Talking about Teaching is to engage participants in discussions about pedagogical goals and promote the practice of critical reflection, as well as increase the awareness of the scholarship of teaching and learning.
For a learning community, like Talking about Teaching, to be successful we need to create a space where participants are free to engage in open discussions about teaching (Knowles 1980). To ensure this, some guiding principles have been developed on the basic principles of adult education.
Sessions will be offered monthly (presently at Burnaby and Surrey, and hopefully soon at Segal) on different days to allow for people to have a chance to attend. They run over the lunch hour from noon to 1:30pm, so bring your lunch.
At each session, one person who volunteers prior to the event to present, will share a teaching activity or experience that worked well or a challenge s/he would like to receive input on from the group. Key concepts and resources will be shared with participants, as well as being posted on the Teaching and Learning website. The size of the group is limited to approximately 15 people to allow for engaged discussion.
Since this is a new initiative, it will likely shift, morph and evolve over time.
Our First Talking about Teaching Featured Kathleen Burke and Adam Mills and began with Kathleen Burke discussing how she uses poetry in her Ethics classes to take the ordinary and make it extraordinary. Burke, who comes from an Arts background and has been teaching since 1998, recited a poem from Sharon Olds entitled “The Summer Camp Bus Pulls Away from the Curb”. The intention of using poetry is to speak in a slant – to get the students to hear a message that comes at them from a different angle or, rather more implicitly than explicitly.
Adam Mills, one of our PhD students, considers himself lucky because he gets to do something he loves – teaching. He likes to create experiential opportunities for students. He described how, in his Entrepreneurship class, he has student teams create businesses. He likes to provide an opportunity for students to get first-hand experience, to integrate their learning more so than with a cognitive or case a case-based approach.
During the feedback process at the end of the session, participants liked the opportunity to hear about innovative things others are doing, having the focused discussion at the beginning, and hearing what others do. They also liked the size (13 people) of the group and found the discussion inspiring. It was suggested that we have only one speaker per session to allow more time for discussion. Also, it was suggested to hold monthly sessions, which already was the plan. Participants mentioned they would like more examples and, possibly, would like to play the role of student in order to fully experience the examples provided by the presenter.
All in all, people were happy with the opportunity to come together and share and learn with one another. Oh, and did I mention the chance to actually “eat” lunch?
Teaching with Fire: Poetry That Sustains the Courage to Teach by Sam M. Intrator and Megan Scriber
Leading from Within: Poetry That Sustains the Courage to Lead by Sam M. Intrator and Megan Scriber
Creating Significant Learning Experiences: An Integrated Approach to Designing College Courses by L. Dee Fink
A Self-Directed Guide to Creating Significant Learning Experiences. Dee Fink’s online guide.
The Summer-Camp Bus Pulls Away from the Curb. A poem by Sharon Olds.
The Wanderer. A poem by Antonio Machado
The 5 Why’s for Problem Identification