And So it Begins…

Photo by Thomas Kelley on Unsplash

Today’s the day. We’re kicking off a new opportunity, a cohort of teacher-learners all aiming to improve our teaching practice and specifically our use of technology-enabled learning. I think “teacher-learner” was my lame response to this Answer Garden, which resulted in a very interesting burrito metaphor. While reflecting on the other answers provided during this morning’s session, I was impressed by “pedagogy protein bar.” I think that’s what I was looking for out of today, and the Extend East experience overall; a boost of energy from colleagues around Ontario for learning new things, and staying motivated to participate in the various aspects of Ontario Extend during this very busy semester.

I hope that the (not-so-gentle) nudging (alright, let’s just call it what it is — peer pressure!) from creative colleagues like Terry Greene and his fellow eCampusOntario foks, along with seeing what the other ExtendEast cohort members produce will keep me on track, and help others get involved!

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Shiny Happy People

Although I’ve previously done a post for The Patchbookthis is my first blog post; I’ve been meaning to get my blog going, and thanks to our New Faculty Experience, which started today, I have the push to do it. To find an inspiring (and beautiful) image for this post, I went to Unsplash. Based on the mood I was in after attending this morning’s opening session with our fourteen newly-hired full-time faculty members, I searched “shiny.” That led me to an album called “Shiny Happy People,” and that’s how I got my new earworm for this evening (I had to get the song from Terry’s blog post out of my head somehow!). Before getting too far down the Unsplash rabbit-hole, and running the risk of never completing this post, I found the above image, by Toa Heftiba, which says “Lets Adore and Endure Each Other.” Aside from the missing apostrophe (did I mention I’m a tiny bit militant about grammar?), it seemed appropriate for our group.

Let’s Adore…
This morning’s session gave me lots to love about our new faculty members. During introductions, they were asked to share one thing they’re looking forward to this semester, and one piece of advice on teaching. What they shared, even those who are brand new to the college, was amazing. Comments about the importance of respect for and trust in our students, and the significance of our relationships with them really stood out. The idea that something seemingly insignificant like getting back to them on an unanswered question, or helping them find the right resource to support them in a time of need means a lot to a student. Knowing that their faculty members not only know who they are, but care about their success, can make such a difference in a student’s day, semester, program, or even their life. Other advice included seeking out support for ourselves as faculty members, not being afraid to ask the same questions more than once (especially for things like D2L and course outlines), and connecting with the right resources to help when you need it.

… and Endure Each Other
Support, and a community of learners, will be so helpful as we move through this New Faculty Experience together. We’ll be there to celebrate each other’s successes, support our colleagues in their attempts at something new (and maybe a little scary), and help out when someone needs us. However, I’m conscious that at times we will indeed have to not only adore, but also endure each other. We’ll be spending a lot of time together, not just this week, but over the course of the next two semesters. As in any group, there will be people we click with, and people we don’t. And when the semester gets busy, and demands are many and competing, it might feel nearly impossible for new faculty members to take the time and energy required to provide constructive feedback, or even to listen, to a colleague. My hope is that before that time comes, we’ve had a chance to build a real community, and see that, as the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching state in their Six Core Principles, “We can accomplish more together than even the best of us can accomplish alone.”

When we reach that rough spot in the semester, I hope to return to this post, and remind myself of the shiny happy people I met today, and the excitement we shared. In the meantime, I look forward to embracing the wisdom of this crowd of new faculty members, learning from them, and seeing what they can accomplish in their teaching practice.