Every fall, the University of Northern BC and the College of New Caledonia jointly host Teaching and Learning Conference – this year, I was lucky to be there! It was an action-packed 3 days, with many highlights. Here are a few…
Keynote speakers Maggie Berg and Barbara Seeber presented their paper (soon to be a book), The Slow Professor. In a nutshell, they believe:
adopting the principles of Slow into our professional practice is an effective way to alleviate work stress, preserve humanistic education, and resist the corporate university. The Slow Movement– originating in Slow Food– challenges the frantic pace and standardisation of contemporary culture.
It was fascinating to observe a lecture hall full of heads nodding and brows furrowing, simultaneously. Certainly lots of agreement, appreciation, and relief, alongside their opposites, plus judgement. I certainly cycled through a series of personal responses. In the end, I was appreciative of their work and their courage. I appreciate that they are standing up for quality in education and a humane working environment for faculty. In some ways, I was reminded of Brene Brown and her work, and was glad to have a chance to tell them so. As the key theme of the conference was wellness and resiliency, these scholars and their message seemed very much on point, and inspired many conversations in the corridors after the fact (and probably still!).
Tools for Teaching
I attended a session co-facilitated by Heather Smith and Bill Owen called, Tools for Teaching (which has been profiled here in the past). It was a great experience and reminded me of the importance of reflecting on what we believe – and know – about teaching and learning, and ourselves as teachers. This is especially true for SME/instructors who find themselves teaching with little or no background in Education. But even experienced teachers benefit from checking in with their core beliefs and teaching philosophy from time to time to see if/how they have evolved and align with their current practice. This sort of workshop/conversation seems like an important foundational piece in any faculty development program.
Graphic Recording Workshop
I facilitated a 3-hour workshop on graphic facilitation – this was an extremely pared down, fast-paced blast through some “basics”, PLUS (because there was a conference going on…) an authentic opportunity for participants to get up and record the next day. The group was SO wonderful, and their recording work turned out great! My hope is we did enough together to seed a local community around the use of visuals in educational contexts and they will continue to learn and create together. Not everyone who ever takes a workshop like this is going to want to be a graphic recorder, but the basic moves of GR are useful for anyone who facilitates anything, or takes notes, or wants another tool for communication and explanation. Lots of application in education. There is an abundance of talent and heart there, in what we dubbed the Prince George Chapter of the Order of the Grey Marker.
Collaboration & Sharing
The generosity and sharing that seems to flow between the two institutions (UNBC and CNC) is so great. Just the fact that they co-host this event for faculty at both institutions every year is worth noticing (we’re more alike than different…). There seems to be a spirit of practicality about it all – the sharing goes on because it just works better for everyone. I hope to see more great “shares” like this in B.C. higher ed (i.e., I hope to learn about other examples that already exist, and I hope to see and support new ones to start).
So anyway, I am extremely grateful to the fine folks up North and have every intention of going back!
PS: special thanks to Grace for the pens! And for starting all this in the first place!