The ISW (Instructional Skills Workshop) Annual Reunion – Monica Vesely

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The ISW (Instructional Skills Workshop) Annual Reunion – Monica Vesely


Since the initial offering of the Instructional Skills Workshop in May of 2008, 120 participants from across all six faculties have completed ISW at the University of Waterloo. On Wednesday, November 13th, a group of ISW past participants gathered in EV1 241 to (re)connect with their fellow ISW alumni. This ISW Reunion has now become an annual event taking place in the fall term and allowing for ISW graduates to touch-base with not only their ISW cohort group but all past ISW participants. Through both formal and informal discussions, the transformative value of ISW is considered and encouraged to grow.

The Instructional Skills Workshop (ISW) is an intense 24-hour peer-based workshop that involves participants in cycles of mini-lessons accompanied by written, verbal and video feedback. It challenges the participants to explore new approaches to their teaching while at the same time being intentional about their lesson planning approach. The program started in 1978 in British Columbia and subsequently spread across Canada and the US. It is now an internationally recognized and facilitated program.

The Instructional Skills Workshop is offered within a small group setting and is designed to enhance the teaching effectiveness of both new and experienced educators. ISW encourages participants to reflect on the underlying processes behind the experience of teaching and learning. For many, the greatest value of the workshop lies in the opportunity to participate in and reflect on instruction from the experience and perspective of a learner.

Attendees at this year’s ISW Reunion had the opportunity to hear more formally from three past participants (Lisa Doherty, Shirley Hall, and Markus Moos) who shared their ISW story and how it shaped their subsequent teaching. After the panelists had shared their thoughts, the discussion opened up to include comments from the group at large. Past participants reflected on how the ISW experience had influenced their approach to teaching and what take-aways had made their way into their classrooms. Some even wondered about repeating the experience now that a significant amount time had passed since their own ISW participation.

If you are an ISW alumni, I encourage you to save the date for our next reunion, tentatively set for Wednesday, November 5, 2014. If you are interested in taking the Instructional Skills Workshop, please visit the CTE events page for future offerings. Our next ISW is scheduled for February 18-21, 2014 (Reading Week).

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Monica Vesely

Monica Vesely is an Instructional Developer with the Centre for Teaching Excellence where she conducts teaching observations, facilitates the Instructional Skills Workshop (ISW), coordinates the Teaching Squares Program, and assists new faculty with their teaching professional development. In her focus on new faculty, she chairs the New Faculty Welcoming Committee, supports new faculty initiatives across campus, consults with new faculty to assist them with the preparation of individualized Learning About Teaching Plans (LATPs), facilitates workshops and builds community through various communications and social events. Prior to joining the Centre for Teaching Excellence, Monica worked with the NSERC Chair in Water Treatment in Civil and Environmental Engineering, taught in the Department of Chemistry, and designed learning experiences with Waterloo's Professional Development Program (WatPD).