Some 100 graduate students from all disciplines at York University converged on the Life Sciences Building on May 6 for the fourth annual Supporting Teaching At York (STAY) Symposium.
The event was abuzz with activity as students came together to network and share their experiences in teaching and learning. They collaborated in a multidisciplinary way in an effort to enhance both the experience of their undergraduate students in their classrooms and their own professional development.
The STAY Symposium was also the culmination of the senior teaching assistants’ training in workshop facilitation and mentorship of their peers through the Teaching Commons’ Senior Teaching Assistant (STA) program. The graduate students who embarked on this course in September designed and facilitated workshops for other graduate students interested in developing their teaching in both the fall and winter terms. They also designed and facilitated the concurrent sessions of the symposium.
“This was their day to shine and that is exactly what they did,” said Celia Popovic, director of the Teaching Commons. “They demonstrated tremendous growth and key attributes that make successful educational developers. They combined research informed practice with active learning strategies to engage the participants and model and share good teaching practices with each other.”
The opening and closing plenaries complimented the sessions designed by the STAs, providing all participants with real-life experiences and tips that they could use. The theme of the day was best summed up by the title of the closing plenary: “Putting your Teaching Experience to Work.”
The symposium opened with warm words of welcome from Faculty of Graduate Studies Associate Dean, Academic, Michael Zryd. The opening plenary began with an introduction to “What is Educational Development” led by Popovic, and was followed by a panel discussion involving Teaching Commons Tutors. The TAs for the Teaching Commons shared their experiences with educational development and how they felt it has applied to and enhanced both their teaching and research, as well as providing skills and experiences they could use to achieve their own professional goals.
The day continued with 13 concurrent sessions led by the 2015-2016 Senior Teaching Assistants. During the sessions, participants shared their experiences and learned new skills, strategies and techniques to apply in their classrooms. The day concluded as it began with a valuable session led by Biology faculty member Tamara Kelly.
“Dr. Kelly’s session was an outstanding model of how one can teach and actively involve a large class (100 participants) in activities,” said Popovic. “The participants identified all of the skills they develop in their teaching and then Dr. Kelly helped us to apply this to developing our CVs by articulating how these skills can enhance our research, including writing successful research proposals and attain our dream job in academia, industry, the public or private sector.”
Following the symposium, Mashal Riaz, one of the 2015-2016 Senior Teaching Assistants said: “It was a great pleasure to participate in the symposium and benefit from interesting sessions offered by fellow TAs. I think that Teaching Commons has continuously provided support to TAs and graduate students to grow professionally in their career and has always guided them in their profession.”
Join in the fun next year at the fifth annual Supporting Teaching At York (STAY) Symposium on Friday May 5, 2017. All are welcome to come and STAY!