Teaching & Learning Symposium: reactions

The 2014 Teaching & Learning Symposium, held on November 3rd at Hart House, proved to be an inspiring day for the almost 300 attendees. Over the course of the day – and twenty-five sessions presented by U of T instructors, staff and librarians – teaching and learning in Canadian higher education was discussed, analyzed, and celebrated.

“This year’s symposium was a great success! I loved hearing about the many teaching innovations at our university,” said Don Boyes, Department of Geography.

In his Keynote Address, President Meric Gertler focused on a number of pressing concerns, including U of T’s three priorities: to leverage our local, and global, advantages, and emphasize undergraduate education. (You can read President Gertler’s keynote on the Office of the President website.)

President Gertler stated, “We need to reconsider our face-to-face time and how it differs from online – to emphasize the advantages and merits of both.”

Teaching & Learning Symposium 2014“It was so good to see how the Symposium program aligned “big picture” academic priorities with on-the-ground classroom solutions,” said Rita Vine, Head, Faculty and Student Engagement, University of Toronto Libraries.

Presenters put their own research, experiences, and questions on display through Nifty Assignments, Research on Teaching and Learning sessions, Teaching Dilemmas, and Teaching Strategies Workshops. It was an opportunity to showcase success stories but also open up the discussion to colleagues, and learn from one and another.

“I’ve been involved in the planning of the Symposium since its inaugural year,” said Pam Gravestock, Associate Director, Centre for Teaching Support & Innovation. “It’s always a real joy to witness the conversations, to learn how everyone works together to continually enhance the educational experiences of our students, and to see our community members sharing not only their ideas but the challenges they’ve faced with regard to teaching.”

According to Gravestock, “There is a great energy that the participants bring to this event each year that speaks to the level of commitment to teaching and learning that exists at our institution.”

Boyes, a recipient of a 2014 President’s Teaching Award, delivered a mock class as a special “Welcome to My Classroom” session. Participants has the chance to see first-hand the pedagogical style and approaches of an award-winning instructor.

“It was wonderful to share my teaching methods with such an engaged group of colleagues.” said Boyes.

In keeping with the spirit of sharing methods and ideas, end-of-day prizes offered a lunch with Sioban Nelson, Vice-President and Provost, Academic Programs, and another with Carol Rolheiser, Director, CTSI, and Pam Gravestock.

Vine was also impressed by the attendee’s engagement in sessions and discussions. “There is so much creative energy going into the teaching enterprise at the U of T,” she added. “And so many great ideas that you can incorporate into your own teaching.”

Teaching & Learning Symposium 2014