2015. I started to reimagine what the classroom could look like. With input from students, I created this haiku deck and embedded it into my blog (the embed code doesn’t always work so I’ve included a visual below).
Reimagining Classrooms – Created with Haiku Deck, presentation software that inspires;
Clocks, beverages, and snacks aside, I’ve been consistently trying to include many of these elements into my classroom since 2015. Choice, creativity, calm atmosphere—these are all important. Our new Active Learning Space at the Cornwall Campus takes care of some of the other aspects.
The work continues to evolve. From co-created projects to co-creative assignment design; from textbooks to open resources; from grades to feedback.
The challenges in an active learning space are crafting activities that help students meet or exceed learning outcome expectations. It’s getting students to see the benefits of collaborative learning and to embrace messy, non-linear curriculum design. Entering student learning means taking a step back and this is not something all faculty are good at; neither to be frank are students. They resist and crave the lecture and teacher-led fact-based lessons they have been used to.
This week I asked students to highlight what they like or dislike about this space we have been in since September. By and large, feedback was positive. I’ll take that as a win.
My mind is often spinning. In a good way—brimming with ideas and thoughts and plans and initiatives and imagination and possibility. Never is this more true than at the end of a conference when I’ve engaged with and intersected with people equally as passionate about education as I am.
The challenge is what to do with all that.
At the time, in the midst of it it all, it’s easy to feel like everything is possible. But in the wake of a conference, ie: on time train on the way home, when the excitement of the past few days mingles with mental and physical fatigue, when you try to remember all the conversations and information and people that inspired deeper reflection, that is a little more daunting.
I need to stem the whirlpool of things swirling in my brain (partial list below):
- Campus-Community partnerships
- Program revitalization
- Zed-Cred programming
- Active Learning
- Faculty tool kit
- Leadership Program initiatives
- Arts & Sciences capstone
- Faculty coaching
- Student wellness and mental health
But you know what? I’m a teacher. I’m in the classroom. I need to focus in on doing the things I can do best in the role that I have right now.
So I’m paring down that list.
Teach. Creative, active learning classrooms. Innovative assessment practices.
Coordinate. Zen-Cred, student coaching, leadership (program, capstone, community)
Create. Guest editing, poetry, writing, SoTL.
My mantra for 2020.
I’m excited for the higher education summit. I’ve been to many conferences but there’s something special about this one. This year marks my third year coming here to Toronto with the St. Lawrence College Board of Governors, and I have to say, I have taken away something of value every single year.
In 2017, it was Daniel Pink who resonated. He spoke about motivation, carving out “islands of autonomy”… both practices which have influenced my teaching since. That year I also took my Good Governance certificate, 1.5 days of digging into the responsibilities of governance, and I continue to be appreciative of having had that opportunity.
Last year, I recall a session on digital skills and the future of education. It was also my first time hearing Chantal Hébert speak…and she blew me away with her brilliant analysis of political events. I wanted to come again this year in large part because she is returning.
And then there’s the Premier’s Awards, and honestly, I’m always #ProudToBeSLC, but seeing the caliber of some of our graduates—and indeed graduates from all of Ontario’s colleges—well, it is an excellent reminder of why we do what we do. I’m honoured to play even the small role I do in the journey of our students.
In addition to all that, there are the people. Getting a chance to connect with colleagues not just from other campuses, but also from various departments and organizational levels is something I truly value. Only Connect is a good motto, and I have made many fabulous connections here, exchanging ideas and thoughts that in my opinion enrich the work we do when we get back to the office.
It’s hard to explain. It’s just a conference. But as with many conferences, I come away feeling uplifted, optimistic, and brimming with ideas.
Looking forward to tomorrow. Ready to dive in.