In August, before our students hit the books and before our instructors “hit” the podium (real of otherwise), our new faculty had the opportunity to attend teaching workshops particularly tailored to their career stage and offered in a concentrated format at a timely point before the start of the fall term. For the second year in a row, two days in August (8th and 9th) were dedicated to Teaching Orientation. New faculty members were invited to attend any or all of four teaching workshops that form the core of the Centre for Teaching Excellence (CTE)’s new faculty offerings.
The program on Day 1 contained three workshops each an hour and a half in duration. The first workshop, Who are Our Learners, helped to develop a sense of “today’s student” and helped identify what makes Waterloo students unique. Participants had an opportunity to discuss assumptions they made about their learners and to examine approaches to learning that would help guide their teaching plan. At the second workshop, Classroom Dynamics and Engagement, new faculty became aware of common issues in classroom dynamics and worked to devise strategies to handle these issues. The third workshop, Assessment for Learning, introduced principles of feedback and evaluation of student work, linked assessment to course design and offered some practical advice for common assessment tools.
Day 2 was devoted to Course Design Fundamentals. In this hands-on workshop, participants explored an aligned framework for their course in which learning outcomes, assessments and activities were considered in the context of the participant’s discipline and the logistics of their class.
Without a doubt the richness of the Teaching Orientation Days experience comes from the participants. It is the questions, concerns and top-of-mind thoughts that spark the conversations that lead to meaningful and value-laden “takeaways” – be they, a novel strategy for coping with a common classroom disruption or an alternate way of formulating a multiple choice question to challenge a student at a higher level of the cognitive domain (in Bloom’s Taxonomy). By having the opportunity to raise and discuss such issues in a teaching focused environment and by sharing their own experiences, participants are able to leave these workshops with a useful tool set ready to be tested in their own classrooms.
These four Teaching Orientation workshops form a core set of offerings key to course design and delivery. Both the Faculty of Engineering and the Faculty of Applied Health Studies have made this series of workshops mandatory for all incoming new faculty. Through the generation of a Learning About Teaching Plan (LATP) in consultation with CTE staff, all new faculty have the opportunity to tailor their teaching professional development to meet their individual needs and interests. Completion of the four core workshops provides a uniform foundation for all incoming faculty as they embark on their teaching careers at the University of Waterloo. In addition to the August dates, subsequent offerings of all four workshops will be scheduled throughout the academic year.
If you would like to learn more about these core teaching workshops or if you are interested in completing a personalized Learning About Teaching Plan, please feel free to contact me (Monica Vesely, email@example.com).