Whereas 2012 reflected a year of exciting opportunities and change, this last year (spring 2013-spring 2014) has reflected a time of coming into my own in a new job and career path.
Following the completion of my M.Sc. in 2011 and until mid-2012, I taught a variety of courses at The University of British Columbia within the Department of Earth & Ocean Sciences. As mentioned in a previous reflection, these experiences were a joy, challenging, and enriching. I was able to engage with my passion for ocean and environmental sciences, I was able to design and implement engaging activities for my students in various courses, I achieved many insights into my own teaching, and I had the very special experience of working with one of my students on her study skills and watching her dramatic improvement in my course.
In mid-2012, my fiancé (now husband) and I began a new chapter in our lives: we moved back to Ontario (where we both grew up) via an incredible cross-country drive. This move, and this trip, had been thoughtfully discussed and in the works for many months; though we love British Columbia and the west coast, we decided missing a city cannot compete with missing immediate family and best friends. After our cross-Canada road trip, we both began Graduate degrees in education at York University in fall 2012 – mine a Graduate Diploma in Post-Secondary Education: Community, Culture and Policy – and shortly thereafter I began working at the Schulich Executive Education Centre on York University campus. In this role, I fulfilled the logistical needs of a variety of professional development workshops for executives, which allowed me to apply and hone my skills in prioritization and attention to detail.
In spring 2013, I was overjoyed to be awarded the position of Coordinator, Curriculum & Faculty Development at Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College (CMCC), a private, non-profit college in North York, Ontario. Since that time, I have developed a great deal as a professional, and began to apply my skills as a full-time educational developer. Here are two key insights from this first year with CMCC:
Growth & Development
Every chance I get, I seek out opportunities for growth – these opportunities can lead to personal or professional growth and skills, growth for Curriculum and Faculty Development, and/or growth for CMCC. During my first year, I engaged in new opportunities for learning, including a MOOC (my first) called Inspiring Leadership Through Emotional Intelligence. From this course, I learned a great deal about the balance of stress and renewal, the positive and negative emotional attractors, and have since applied these new learnings to self care, wellness, and inspirational leadership. I’ve also grown the capacity of Curriculum & Faculty Development to create online learning content via the development of skills with Articulate Storyline software. Initially, I self-taught the software during a project to move chiropractic philosophy content online for a first-year level course, but have more recently attended formalized training in January to hone my skills. I very much enjoy using this user-friendly eLearning authoring software, and am looking forward to applying this knowledge to new eLearning opportunities moving forward. Finally, I am currently leading the planning of CMCC’s first annual Teaching & Learning Conference, which will take place at the institution this coming June. This will be a new opportunity for the college to engage with internal and external faculty and share best teaching practices with their peers; I am excited as both the lead organizer of and a presenter for this conference to bring this opportunity to the CMCC community.
Training & Facilitating
My opportunities for teaching at CMCC are abundant, but are different in nature than the teaching I was engaged in at UBC. Here, I am focused on training, as my role is tasked with providing just-in-time support to faculty who have issues with any of our eLearning Technologies, primarily our Learning Management System, Sakai. Oftentimes, a faculty will ask me a question about how to “do” something within their Sakai course site, and my answer, though needs to be focused primarily on the technical, also leaves room to impart some pedagogical reasoning behind my recommendations. Thus, I’ve found myself at the second level of teaching & learning: as a Sessional Instructor at UBC I was focused on teaching in a learning-centred manner; here at CMCC I am now teaching or training faculty to teach in a learning-centred manner. There are implications to this new form of teaching, and it requires a unique approach. It requires compassion and understanding of ingrained habits, advocating on behalf of the student and other user experience, pointing faculty towards solutions that are learning-centred by pointing out their ease of implementation in a technical sense, and/or emphasizing solutions that improve student experience/learning that may require some implementation time. The ultimate goal still remains with student learning and experience, but more of a balance now exists between faculty and student needs, with the ideal being satisfaction of all parties.
Looking forward, I am excited for continued opportunities to grow and to refine my training skills within my position at CMCC. Thus far, these experiences and insights have been very fulfilling to my development in teaching & learning.