Teaching in Focus Conference explores great teaching at York U

image shows a class in the Curtis Lecture hall

On May 17 and 18, the Victor Dahdaleh Building on York University’s Keele campus was abuzz with faculty, staff and students talking about teaching and learning at York University. They were participating in the Teaching in Focus (TiF) Conference, the University’s annual two-day celebration and professional development event devoted to all things related to teaching, organized by the Teaching Commons.

Nancy Chick
Nancy Chick

TiF began with a keynote address from Professor Nancy Chick from University of Calgary and editor of the International Society for Scholarship in Teaching and Learning (ISSOTL) journal, Teaching and Learning Inquiry.

“Nancy offered an engaging insight into publishing in the area of scholarship of teaching and learning SoTL [research into teaching and learning in Higher Education, scholarship of teaching and learning],” said Celia Popovic, director of the Teaching Commons.

Comparing assumptions from different disciplines, Chick explored the challenges and opportunities afforded by experienced researchers in one field (Biology or History) engaging in research into teaching and learning.

Nancy Chick speaks to a capacity crowd at this year’s TiF conference. Image: Twitter/Andrea Val

Throughout both days of TiF, York University faculty, teaching assistants (TAs) and staff, occasionally accompanied by students, shared their good practice and informed one another of the findings from their research. The biggest challenge, as ever, was in deciding which parallel session to attend as they all sounded fascinating.

Day one concluded with a panel session focused on the First-Year Experience Toolkit.

Will Gage
Will Gage

“We started the second day with an overview of the Academic Innovation Fund by the Associate Vice-President of Teaching and Learning, Will Gage.” said Popovic. “This was a fascinating insight into the achievements of the Academic Innovation Fund (AIF), which was introduced in 2010.

“Several of the AIF award holders presented on their work during the parallel sessions. Will then hosted a conversation with two of the University’s teaching award winners. Professor Carl James won the Faculty of Graduate Studies Teaching Award, while Glendon Professor Veronique Tomaszewski was awarded the President’s University Wide Teaching Award.”

Both teachers kept the audience spellbound as they shared their teaching philosophies and inspired some intriguing questions.

The TiF Conference concluded with a tea party, an opportunity to network with colleagues with a shared interest in teaching at York University.