Welcome to a New Academic Year!

Last week, NAIT staff came together during NAIT’s PD Day. What a great way to start the academic year with new ideas and the chance to reconnect with colleagues. I had the opportunity to present a workshop on Supporting Instructor Workplace Learning. After the workshop, I asked participants to indicate what they learned in the workshop. Below, I’ll and elaborate on some of the learning outcomes mentioned.

Share Student Feedback in Class

• “I learnt about best practices after administering a feedback survey to students.”

This participant refers to our conversation about what we should advise instructors to do with the student feedback they receive. We talked about instructors presenting the main points of the feedback with their students and talking about how they plan to address the feedback. These two actions have four positive effects.

  1. Students realize the instructor takes the feedback seriously.
  2. Students will find that the instructor is willing to make changes accordingly.
  3. Students realize that their ideas on how the class should be run might not be shared by the other students.
  4. They see how the instructor juggles the wishes and needs of all students.

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On the Value of Peer Learning

• “Good time of the year to realize that learning happens continuously and that I may ask my peers for their thoughts on new ideas.”
• “Other instructors’ help seems to be required for everything.”
• “Reinforcing the idea of lifelong learning – supervisors should encourage instructors to ask questions.”

This last participant likely refers to our conversation about the fact that the learning environment for instructors is co-created by the chair and instructors in the department. In other words, all instructors are a source of and support for their colleagues’ learning. Who knows better how to teach subjects and topics than colleagues who have already taught them? Who knows better about students’ misconceptions regarding difficult topics, and who can provide strategies to help students see the light? Supervisors might allow this peer learning to happen by encouraging instructors to do the following:

• attend each other’s classes
• collaboratively create assignments and assessments
• provide each other with feedback on teaching
• attend formal learning events together
• present examples of their best assignments during staff meetings

My favourite pieces of feedback were:
• “Stop hiding in your office, you’re fabulous.”
• “Thanks for sharing the blog link. I will be following it.”

It’s this kind of feedback that keeps us educators going. Over the next month, I’ll be interviewing program chairs about the strategies for supporting instructor learning that work best for them. I’ll also discuss how different types of instructor learning require different types of support. So stay tuned…

*Picture of the Active Learning Classroom courtesy of Texas A&M University-Commerce Marketing Communications Photography

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