The Power of Community — Donna Ellis

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what we’re trying to accomplish in CTE (one of those off-shoots of having to prepare for a job interview!) and I keep coming back to building community and building capacity.  While it’s important to build capacity in others, the real lynchpin involves community.  Coming from a small town, you’d think that the concept of “community” would always be at the front of my mind, and yet it isn’t always, perhaps because it’s something that’s easy to take for granted.  But strong communities – like friendships – take effort to create and maintain, but the benefits easily outweigh any effort required.

At CTE, we aim to build communities across campus, within departments, and in relation to topical interests.  However, we also try to build community within our own unit – it’s one of our strategic goals.  It’s so easy to forgo opportunities to connect with our colleagues when schedules are busy and our “to do” lists are never-ending, and yet that’s exactly the time when the connections are so critical.

That’s one reason why we’re taking today to engage in a professional development event that is enabling us to share what we’ve learned over the past year or what we’ve shared with colleagues at other institutions.  It may be a key take-away from a course we took or a reprisal of a conference session or poster that we delivered.  Regardless, we are coming together as a unit to exchange knowledge, experiences, and best practices.  And I know that the day will be invigorating not only because of what I will learn but because I will have a whole day to spend with my colleagues, continuing to build on the community we already have.

If you haven’t taken the opportunity to listen and talk with your colleagues lately, I encourage you to do so.  It’s well worth the effort.


The Centre for Teaching Excellence welcomes contributions to its blog. If you are a faculty member, staff member, or student at the University of Waterloo (or beyond!) and would like contribute a posting about some aspect of teaching or learning, please contact Mark Morton or Trevor Holmes.

Published by

Donna Ellis

Donna Ellis has supported the teaching development of Waterloo faculty members and graduate students since 1994. In her role as Director, she oversees the development and delivery of all the Centre for Teaching Excellence programming and services, which include individual faculty consultations; events directed at graduate students, new faculty, and established faculty regarding face-to-face teaching, blended learning, and emerging technologies; online resources; curriculum and program review consultations; and research support services. Donna has a PhD from Waterloo’s Management Sciences program and completed her dissertation research on instructional innovations. She also has an MA in Language and Professional Writing from Waterloo, and has taught in the Speech Communication program. Donna, along with her husband, spends time away from work raising three fine boys.

Leave a Reply