Professional Development is an essential component of my teaching philosophy as I believe the best teachers are those who value the importance of learning. Though the foundations of educational practices do not change, our interpretation of how to best incorporate them into the classroom can and does (and should) change and we need to adapt our teaching to ensure what we give students continues to have relevance. As a professor, it is also helpful to understand the world in which students live, and this means keeping up to date with how they engage and interact and communicate, as well as understanding the myriad of challenges and opportunities they face on a day-to-day basis.
Some of this can be achieved by having honest conversations with students themselves, and nothing can compete with a classroom relationship built on mutual trust and respect. But we also need to stay up to date in our area of expertise and with new ideas about the way we learn and teach.
I like a mixture of both formal and informal Professional Development. I stay on top of what is happening at work by participating in all the PD opportunities offered internally and in recent years have particularly enjoyed taking and/or delivering some of the following classes/courses:
- Celebrate Great Teaching Retreat (May, 2018)
- SLC Learning Connections Conference (May, annually 2010-2018)
- Innovation and Creativity in the classroom
- Flipping the Classroom
- Bridging the Gap Between High School and College
- Engagement in the Classroom
- Differentiated Learning
- Universal Design for Learning
- Lesson Planning
- Active and Engaged Learning
- Aligning and Building Curriclum (ABC -conference June 2016)
- Focus on Learning (Week seminar Aug 2013, April 2014)
Externally, I attend conferences as I am able. I have particularly enjoyed the following:
- CALL Conference (College Association for Language and Literacy), June 2016
- STLHE (Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education) June 2016
I am also active in following up on PD opportunities primarily by engaging with other educators. Twitter has been phenomenal for this, introducing me to numerous contacts with whom I am able to share information. I engage in regular Twitter chats under the following hasthtags: #educhat (Education Chat); #FYCchat (First Year Comp); #EngChat (English) and through these, have been exposed to a wealth of valuable insight and experience.
PD of Note: Check out #oextend on Twitter by the marvelous folk @ontarioextend who are part of e-campus Ontario, and who have some great modules available.
In addition, I am also experimenting with online courses to see how they work and what the inherent challenges and opportunities are. I have taken a number of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) both our of a desire to see how they work, and out of interest.
- Modern and Contemporary American Poetry (ModPo – my favourite course ever…and that included F2F classes in university) (NO – SERIOUSLY – you should consider taking this…Al is brilliant!)
- History and Future of (Mostly) Higher Education
- Blended Learning: Personalizing Education for Students
- Critical Thinking in Global Challenges
- Soren Kierkegaard – Subjectivity and the Crisis of Modernitity