Teaching Commons explores novel professional development approach

diverse group of women around conference table

By Elaine Smith

In its ongoing effort to remain at the forefront of pedagogy, York University’s Teaching Commons (TC) is testing a novel approach to in-person professional development workshops that allows for a more relaxing, enjoyable and informative experience.

On March 27, TC will host Teaching & Learning Day, which will offer a series of workshops exploring some of the leading subjects in pedagogy – including artificial intelligence (AI) and experiential education.

The sessions share no common theme and will look at – among other things – how educators can create teaching strategies to support students in becoming informed about generative AI, how to help students benefit from opportunities for critical reflection while engaging in experiential education activities, and how well-being of both students and instructors can be integrated into teaching experiences.

What TC is hoping to achieve with the initiative is a morning of in-person professional development experiences that are more informal than might be the norm. In particular, the aim is to have Teaching & Learning Day not only advance understanding and discussions about pedagogy but to also facilitate conversations and connections among its attendees.

“The workshops are being facilitated by our educational developers, but the wisdom sharing among participants is where a lot of the deeper learning can happen,” said Mandy Frake-Mistak, interim director of the Teaching Commons.

Promoting those opportunities for inter-colleague conversation and learning is a major reason TC wanted to host its professional workshops all at once as a series.

“It’s often tough for people to find time and space in their day for workshops, and if they’re working off campus, they may not want to commute for a 1.5-hour workshop,” said Frake-Mistak. “If we hold a series at once, it allows people to stay for one or stay for all of them.”

Matthew Dunleavy, the educational developer who first proposed the event, says York has always been a commuter campus where people come and go. By bringing people together in person, he hopes they’ll have the opportunity to connect with colleagues and have unexpected conversations with unfamiliar people.

“I’m a big proponent of all the things that happen in liminal spaces around formal offerings,” Dunleavy said. “Here, conversations can bleed into the hallways, just because people are together for a longer event. In spaces for transition, conversations happen and new ideas might emerge or cross-pollination might result.”

The workshops will take place in the Victor Phillip Dahdaleh Building, and their titles and details are as follows:

For more information about the Teaching Commons and its initiatives, visit their website.

Teaching Commons helps navigate difficult classroom conversations

Teacher speaking too students in class

To help instructors navigate sensitive issues and challenging classroom dynamics, the Teaching Commons has launched a new toolkit and series of professional development sessions focused on difficult moments and conversations in the classroom.

Nona Robinson
Nona Robinson

On March 14, the Teaching Commons will host the second of a series of workshops in partnership with Nona Robinson, vice-provost students. Titled “Effective Classroom Facilitation: Managing disruptions, addressing controversial topics and supporting equity-deserving students,” this virtual session will offer concrete tools, strategies and resources for facilitating productive conversations in the classroom.

“I’m always happy to work with faculty members on student support, inclusion, and preventing and managing conflict” says Robinson. “I know this can be a source of stress for many of us, and this is a great opportunity for colleagues to share experiences and helpful ideas.” 

The session accompanies a new Facilitating Dialogue and Challenging Conversations in the Classroom resource site, also referred to as a toolkit, housed on the Teaching Commons website. and led by educational developer Shani Kipang.

“One of the goals has been to help members of the University community revisit commonly used terms like ‘safety’ and ‘comfort,’ and to think critically and collaboratively about what it means and looks like to build accountable spaces,” says Kipang, who has worked with the Teaching Commons over the past year to support initiatives in decolonizing, equity, diversity and inclusion (DEDI).

The toolkit provides a range of resources to support productive dialogue and collaborative learning in the classroom. Included in it are topic-specific resources such as strategies for facilitating discussion, addressing harm and creating community guidelines.

Shani Kipang
Shani Kipang

“Our hope is to help instructors walk into the classroom with clear goals and responsive strategies, so students can be motivated to engage and have the sense that it will be worthwhile,” she explains. “We want to help instructors address unanticipated situations with intention, and to support meaningful and carefully guided opportunities for learners to engage with critical issues in ways that shape how they learn and work and interact in the world.”

Ameera Ali
Ameera Ali

In addition to the March 14 workshop, the Teaching Commons offers a variety of other opportunities to explore strategies for teaching in times of crisis and integrating DEDI-informed pedagogies. Among these are a workshop series on trauma-informed pedagogies and a DEDI community of practice – a space where teachers can come together to learn, share, and question a wide array of topics related to DEDI in teaching and learning.

In partnership with York’s Centre for Human Rights, Equity & Inclusion and faculty co-facilitators, these initiatives are led by Ameera Ali, an educational developer in the Teaching Commons with a portfolio focused on equity, diversity and inclusion.

“These offerings invite folks to come together to collectively reflect on and discuss various aspects of trauma, race, disability, gender, wellness, belonging and more,” she says. “And through this work, building understanding in these areas, we can better support meaningful dialogue and connection within the classroom.”

For more information on resources and upcoming sessions, visit the Teaching Commons website or contact them via email at teaching@yorku.ca.

Teaching Commons seeks presenters for upcoming TiF conference in May

Speaker giving a talk in conference hall at business event. Audience at the conference hall.

By Elaine Smith

With a new vice-provost teaching and learning and an interim director of the Teaching Commons in place, York University’s annual Teaching in Focus (TiF) conference this May will have a slightly different look and feel, and a theme reflective of the times.

Mandy Frake-Mistak, the Teaching Commons’ interim director, and her team are seeking presenters for the two-day conference, which will be held in person this year on May 8 and 9. The theme for this year’s conference is Engaged Teaching in Times of Crisis and proposals are due on Feb. 29.

In addition to crisis-related presentations, there are opportunities for presentations about Academic Innovation Fund projects and experiential education/work-integrated learning. Presenters may speak individually, in teams or as panel members, and all faculty and graduate students are encouraged to consider taking part.

“Based on feedback from the Task Force on the Future of Pedagogy, we know that faculty members want more opportunities to communicate about what they’re doing in the classroom, and TiF will continue to be a great place for that to happen,” says Chloë Brushwood Rose, vice-provost teaching learning. “However, we also want to offer opportunities for conversations around philosophical and critical issues in teaching and learning, not only about practices. We want to highlight people who are thinking in interesting ways and from a range of perspectives about teaching and learning, especially in complex times.”

People are grappling with conflicts in the classroom and conflicts in the world simultaneously, explains Brushwood Rose. The role of the University, she believes, should be to provide a space to talk about pedagogy more broadly.

Frake-Mistak shares that view.

“When we see crisis on a global scale, we can’t help but bring it home, and it shapes how we process information and our dealings with our peers,” she says. “We are trying to support people through this. It’s one thing to share resources, but what about what happens in the classroom?”

And that is where TiF comes in.

The conference will also feature TiF Reads, a panel reminiscent of the popular Canada Reads competition on CBC Radio. Presenters can champion a teaching- or learning-related book, journal article or other resource that inspired them during the past year and attendees will vote for a winner.

“TiF has been a mainstay on our calendar since 2013 and we want to champion it so it is continually growing and getting better,” says Frake-Mistak. “We want to recognize the community who have dedicated their livelihoods to teaching and learning; there are so many unsung heroes. It’s an opportunity to bring people together to champion teaching and learning and propel it forward.”

Brushwood Rose agrees.

“We look forward to TiF being as well attended and energizing as ever.”

Take this opportunity to fill out a presenter’s application form.

Teaching Commons’ program joins forces with University of Guelph

books on grass rustling pages

By Elaine Smith

Participants in the Teaching Commons’ Reading for Teaching program at York University got a glimpse of the commonalities and differences in teaching practice at another institution thanks to a collaboration with a similar group at the University of Guelph during the Fall 2023 term.

Scott McLaren
Scott McLaren
Lisa Endersby
Lisa Endersby

Reading for Teaching is an informal opportunity for colleagues from across campus who are interested in reading and talking about teaching. A type of book club that focuses on works dealing with pedagogy, the program is the brainchild of educational developer Lisa Endersby and teaching and learning librarian Scott McLaren.

The two started the group pre-pandemic in 2019, building on early iterations of a Teaching Commons Journal Club facilitated by Endersby, and it has been running in the fall and winter terms ever since.

Members read works, both fiction and non-fiction, related to teaching and meet monthly to discuss the ideas set forth in the reading and how they relate to each individual’s experiences in the classroom.

Earlier this year, Endersby discovered that educational development colleagues at the University of Guelph in the Office of Teaching & Learning ran a similar group, and she suggested collaborating. She and McLaren talked with the two Guelph group leaders – educational developers Jenn Reniers and Christie Stewart – and tested the waters this fall.

Jenn Reniers is on the left; Christie Stewart on the right
Jenn Reniers (left) and Christie Stewart (right).

“One of the strengths of the group is that it brings people together from across the University and allows discussion among people at all levels of the profession, from teaching assistants to tenured, full professors,” McLaren said. “By reaching out to another institution, it takes the group to another level, making it even more diverse.”

Their Guelph counterparts agreed.

“Within the university, context is important, and it’s interesting to talk to people from different contexts,” said Reniers. “Our two institutions are different, in terms of commuter students versus students who live in residence, size and programs offered. We were interested in continuing our own club while connecting with others from different contexts.”

Stewart added, “Many of the books we read were based on research from the United States. By talking with each other, it helped us work through whether the differences were due to a difference in our own university and theirs or if it reflects differences between post-secondary education in Canada and the U.S.”

The leaders met in August to consider how they could work together and still maintain the individuality of their programs. Since Guelph faculty meet bimonthly and York’s monthly, they decided to make introductions asynchronously at the start of the term and meet as a group at the end of the term, separately discussing the chosen book in the intervening months. The book they selected was Relationship Rich Education: How Human Connections Drive Success in College by Peter Felten and Leo M. Lambert (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2020).

“There are a lot of institutional structures that can facilitate or hinder connection,” McLaren said. “It’s interesting to talk about this across different universities and discuss what works and what doesn’t.”

The leaders of each group maintained a strict “whatever is said in the group stays in the group” policy to encourage openness and honesty and allow people to drop their guards when they met unfamiliar colleagues.

“In a group like this, you come face-to-face virtually with people you wouldn’t ordinarily meet and you don’t want to worry that you might be sitting across from them in a meeting,” McLaren said.

In September, the two groups used Padlet, a virtual bulletin board software, to introduce themselves to each other individually. Throughout the term, participants were able to post comments about the readings, although the groups met separately.

“Throughout the term, we updated each other about the conversations that were taking place,” said Stewart of the leaders.

The leaders also met to arrange December’s online joint session, creating reflection questions and planning for breakout sessions, as well as a large group discussion. The December gathering featured discussions about such topics as the impact of having a third space besides the classroom or home to meet and how to create a welcoming environment in large classes, even if one-on-one connections weren’t possible.

“It was very useful,” Stewart said. “I wasn’t sure what to expect when bringing in others after 12 weeks of building our own bonds, but I didn’t find reluctance. People were willing to contribute, and it offered validation of their experiences by people at another institution.”

Endersby agreed.

“Despite our sense of working in a York bubble, the Guelph participants felt the same way about some of the challenges and opportunities inherent in relationship-rich education. It was affirming for me.”

York’s Reading for Teaching program begins its winter term program on Jan. 16. For more information and to register your participation, complete the registration form.

Teaching Commons leader in bringing DEDI lens to classroom 

Equity, diversity, inclusion

By Elaine Smith 

York University’s Teaching Commons (TC), the office that provides leadership in the pursuit of engaged teaching practices centred on the student learning experience, is also a leader in fostering an awareness of how to incorporate a decolonization, equity, diversity and inclusion (DEDI) perspective into pedagogical practices. 

As reflected by its statement of practice, the TC team has embraced equity, decolonization, diversity, inclusion and accommodation and continues to bring equity-informed pedagogy to York University faculty, introducing relevant ideas and practices through its workshops and courses.

“Since Ameera Ali, our educational developer, EDI, joined Teaching Commons in February 2022, we have been able to ramp up our support in this area, in alignment with York’s DEDI Strategy,” said Geneviève Maheux-Pelletier, director of Teaching Commons.

Geneviève Maheux-Pelletier
Geneviève Maheux-Pelletier
Jessica Vorstermans
Jessica Vorstermans
Robin Sutherland-Harris
Robin Sutherland-Harris

TC takes the responsibility for DEDI leadership seriously, as its activities demonstrate. Ali and fellow educational developer Robin Sutherland-Harris currently co-lead a DEDI in Teaching and Learning community of practice (CoP) with Jessica Vorstermans, an assistant professor in the Critical Disability Studies program. With online monthly meetings, it has about 130 members who participate as their schedules allow; it has also spawned a trauma-informed reading group. The CoP meetings are an opportunity for members to share what’s on their minds. This year, they plan to offer some in-person sessions, too.

Susan Dion
Susan Dion

TC held its first DEDI conference this past spring with the help of an Academic Innovation Fund grant, and during the past academic year, TC supported Susan Dion, associate vice-president Indigenous initiatives, in delivering Decolonizing the Academy, a course that discussed this shared responsibility, and what it means to decolonize teaching and learning from a pedagogical perspective. 

“This course offered the opportunity for a lot of inner reflection and considering what people’s roles as settlers mean,” said Maheux-Pelletier. “Professor Dion was very generous to partner with us and we will be looking for ways to deliver this course in the future without making major demands on her time.” 

This past summer, Ali and colleague Natasha May offered a course called Caring to Teach: Supporting Student Transitions Between Teaching and Learning Environments that helped instructors ease their students’ path between online learning and classroom studies.  

“Caring to Teach focused on the pedagogy of care, kindness and belonging, and it was especially important as we moved to and from online courses,” said Maheux-Pelletier. “It reminds us that students are more than simply someone sitting in class, and the more attuned we are to them, the better we can help them to be fully present in the classroom. 

“World events like the pandemic, the murderous attack on a Muslim family in London, Ont., and the University of Waterloo stabbing keep reminding us how vulnerable we are. If we’re not in a mental space to learn, it won’t happen.” 

These ideas lead directly to TC’s new 10-part workshop series, Trauma-Informed Pedagogy, in collaboration with the Centre for Human Rights, Equity and Inclusion. The series grew out of inquiries during the pandemic from faculty who were wondering how to make the classroom a more inclusive space. 

The workshops “will explore how trauma influences learning and how it manifests itself inside the classroom or elsewhere,” said Ali, who is leading the course along with Sutherland-Harris and Vorstermans.  

The first five sessions, running this term, lay the foundation by examining what trauma is and who is affected by trauma, Ali noted. “The second five sessions, taking place during the winter term, discuss how we respond: the pedagogical strategies and techniques we can use. 

“We’re bringing everyone to a common understanding of the subject and then giving them concreate strategies to use.” 

Maheux-Pelletier underscores TC’s ongoing commitment to DEDI and willingness to lead the way. 

“To me, there is no bulletproof approach,” she said, “but a commitment to the work is important, even if it is messy, imperfect and uncomfortable.” 

Model for Engaged Teaching basis for conference presentation

Female conference lecture teacher professor

By Elaine Smith 

York University’s Model for Engaged Teaching (MET) will take centre stage during an upcoming presentation by educational developers from the Teaching Commons (TC) at the International Society for Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Conference in November. 

Geneviève Maheux-Pelletier, director of TC, and Mandy Frake-Mistak, a TC educational developer, will present preliminary findings from the qualitative research they are conducting into MET’s impact at York. They are currently conducting focus groups with faculty to obtain feedback about the model and how it shapes an instructor’s practice in the context of their own teaching and learning experience, disciplinary tradition and prior exposure, as well as whether it is used at York for activities such as operationalizing “excellent” teaching, helping faculty articulate their practice, and mapping out professional growth related to teaching and learning.

This image represents engaged teaching practices: the left side focuses on improving one’s own teaching, while the focus of the right is on dissemination of teaching-related knowledge in a manner that is appropriately public. For a more in-depth description, see this document.

“Our job at TC is to think deeply about teaching and learning and look at ways our York community of instructors can think about teaching in much broader strokes than just through their own individual classroom lens,” said Maheux-Pelletier, who co-chaired the Sub-Committee on Research and Innovation in Teaching and Learning that produced York’s Model for Engaged Teaching in 2019 (updated in 2021). “The model looks at what informs teaching, and considers four dimensions:  

  • an instructor’s classroom practice; 
  • sharing practice; 
  • systematic, intentional use of evidence in teaching; and 
  • formal research: the scholarship of teaching and learning. 

The diagram of the model adopted and adapted by York shows flexibility and an interplay between the dimensions that remind faculty that tasks may be more than one thing rather than neatly categorized. It also shows the interplay between tasks and, says Maheux-Pelletier, “opens up perspectives and opportunities to see teaching in a richer way. 

“It gives people language and anchors their practice differently and in an aspirational fashion; their practice may develop over time.” 

Frake-Mistak noted that the MET is the starting point for “changing the perception of what it means to be a teacher.” 

She noted that it is a more robust practice than many people realize. Instructors tend to downplay all the tasks that they take for granted, such as building relationships and creating an inclusive classroom environment. 

“We want to shift the language we use and the perception of teaching,” said Frake-Mistak. “There’s so much that teachers do that can be rendered invisible in an institution of this size.” 

Added Maheux-Pelletier, “The MET helps instructors grow over time with intentionality.” 

The preliminary findings of their research indicate that the model is helpful in defining concepts such as teaching excellence from a broader perspective than just the classroom, because it takes into account myriad activities, such as reflecting on teaching, developing a curriculum and writing a review or meta-analysis for a journal. 

“When we presented the model itself at last year’s conference, people grabbed onto it as a productive way of thinking about teaching,” said Maheux-Pelletier. “They seemed to find it useful.” 

Frake-Mistak expressed hope that the preliminary data will be only the beginning of a broader study. 

“There are more boundaries around discussing teaching and learning than around research and we’d love to tear them down,” she said. 

“Ultimately, from a professional standpoint, teaching is a scholarly practice and we need to recognize the power and significance it brings along with it, as well as the responsibility.” 

Maheux-Pelletier noted that the team at TC is involved in the scholarship of teaching and learning in addition to the work they do to disseminate evidence-based information through workshops, seminars and courses. 

“We’re actually a group of scholars who specialize in teaching and learning,” she said. “Yes, we are service providers and our work is influenced both by the literature and by our own research.” 

Faculty connect through fictional classroom to talk about teaching

Women in casual business attire browsing through paper documents and tablets

By Elaine Smith

Why not initiate discussions about pedagogy using classrooms portrayed in literature and film as the starting point?

Robin Sutherland-Harris
Robin Sutherland-Harris
Matthew Dunleavy
Matthew Dunleavy

It’s a premise that appears to be working for York University Teaching Commons (TC) educational developers Matthew Dunleavy and Robin Sutherland-Harris, who introduced Fictional Classrooms: Talking About Teaching Through Narrative as a pilot project during the Winter 2023 term. It was offered again in Summer 2023 and will soon be registering participants for the fall term.

“As the humanities liaison for the Teaching Commons, I find that professors who work on their own doing research and teaching don’t come to TC in huge numbers, so I wondered what else I could do to appeal to them,” said Sutherland-Harris.

She and Dunleavy decided to experiment with something similar to a book and film club, called Fictional Classrooms. During the winter term, participants read two books and watched three films portraying fictional university classes and discussed these together via Zoom. (Films: The Paper Chase, 1973; Madadayo, 1993; and The Great Debaters, 2007; books: Real Life by Brandon Taylor; and Catherine House by Elisabeth Thomas.) The summer term focuses on a single book, Elizabeth Finch by Julian Barnes.

“It’s a lower stakes way of engaging,” said Dunleavy, “and the texts become a jumping-off point for larger conversations.”

Julie Conder
Julie Conder
Lucia Gagliese
Lucia Gagliese

Lucia Gagliese, a professor in the School of Kinesiology and Health Sciences, and Julie Conder, an assistant professor (teaching stream) in the Department of Psychology, each took part in the pilot project and are continuing with this summer’s session.

“I’m interested in narrative and it’s starting to become a part of my academic work,” said Gagliese, a psychologist. “This is a way to start thinking about teaching as narrative. We also get exposed to really interesting work, and I appreciate coming together as a group for discussions. We start talking about the professors in the movies and books and move on to our own teaching, theory and pedagogical practice, so it allows you to consider what you can take from this to the classroom.”

For Conder, it offered an opportunity to carve out time for the reading or film. “Even when I couldn’t attend, I still put that time in. I really enjoyed getting an opportunity to meet other fiction fans outside my department. I made some good connections with others who have similar interests, and our discussions were always interesting and thought-provoking. Finally, I really liked the focus on educational topics within the literature. As a professor, it made all the selections very personally relevant; many of the discussions we had made me take a critical eye toward my own teaching practice….”

The group meets monthly and participants attended as often as possible, given their competing commitments. There was no pressure to attend every session or to have finished a book to participate.

“Given their schedules, people need flexibility,” Sutherland-Harris said. “The experience is exploratory and reflective, and allows us to consider how art intersects with what we do for a living. It is really rich and new to discuss the artistic recreation of university classrooms.”

Dunleavy found that everyone brought topics they wanted to discuss to the meetings.

“People often just wanted to talk about themselves in the teaching context,” he said. “In workshops, they don’t always have that space. “

The topics that arose for discussion included: what is good teaching?; student wellness; how to support and supervise graduate students best; and how graduate school experiences informed them as teachers.

“It allowed people at York to form powerful, deeper connections,” Dunleavy said. “I believe it helps their teaching practice. Even if the only thing they get from it is that they aren’t isolated in their teaching, it’s a success.”

To learn more about Fictional Classrooms and to enrol for the fall term, contact Robin Sutherland-Harris at robinsh@yorku.ca or Matthew Dunleavy at mdunleav@yorku.ca.

York language students work with Japanese writing buddies

Students in the Intermediate Written Communication in Japanese course

By Elaine Smith

A new course at York University offered Japanese language students an opportunity to connect with a group of pen pals in Japan.

Intermediate Written Communication in Japanese (JP2010) is a full-year elective that focuses solely on writing, says Noriko Yabuki-Soh, an associate professor in the Department of Languages, Literatures and Linguistics. And, no wonder.

Noriko Yabuki-Soh
Noriko Yabuki-Soh

“Learning to write in Japanese takes time because there are three different writing systems which also incorporate Chinese characters,” she said.

Yabuki-Soh was eager to connect her students with the Japanese community through their writing as a way of ensuring the students had an authentic experience and learned some of the colloquial expressions commonly used in Japan today. She turned to York International, experts in globally networked learning (GNL), for assistance. GNL is an approach to teaching, learning and research that enables students, faculty and non-academic researchers from different locations around the world to participate in, and collaborate on, knowledge-making processes and concrete research projects. 

York International connected Yabuki-Soh with faculty at York partner universities and she found an interested colleague, Professor Jin Abe at Hitotsubashi University, a Tokyo-based national university and York University exchange partner.

To interest Japanese students in taking part, Yabuki-Soh created a recruitment poster and promotional video. Not only did local students apply; there were responses from students from other countries who were studying at Hitotsubashi, as well as Hitotsubashi students studying on exchange programs in other countries. Sixteen students joined the program to work with Yabuki-Soh’s class, which also had 16 students.

“It was a very diverse group with students from all over the world,” she said. “It was good for our students to work with other people their own age who had similar interests.”

The two groups interacted every two weeks throughout the course through various writing projects and using Google Docs. For example, Yabuki-Soh assigned her students to write opinion pieces for posting online on topics that interested them, providing samples in Japanese newspapers for guidance, and their Japanese peers would comment about the ideas put forward. 

“We’d review opinion pieces together in class, ensuring they understood the grammar, and I’d lecture about the writing style appropriate to the task,” she said. “Posting the pieces to Google Docs worked well, given the 14-hour time difference. The Japanese students could comment at any time of day.”

For another project, Yabuki-Soh paired each York student with a Japanese student, provided them with a list of questions and asked them to interview each other about the city where they lived or the town where they grew up. The York students were required to create an essay about their partners using the proper format for quotes. The York students also used the content for their final course essay, comparing their own hometown to their partner’s.

“They learned a lot about each other,” Yabuki-Soh said.

While class interaction was confined to Google Docs, students who expressed an interest in sharing their email addresses had the opportunity to connect individually with their overseas counterparts.

Jessell Miranda
Jessell Miranda

Jessell Miranda, a graduating economics major, said she studied both Korean and Japanese because she loves the languages. With no advanced Japanese class offered during the winter semester, she opted for the writing course.

“I don’t want to lose what I’ve learned, and I wanted to test my understanding of the language,” Miranda said. “It was really fun and enjoyable, because we were communicating with people from our own age group, not simply talking to the professor.

“I feel more confident about writing as a result, but I also realize how much more there is to learn.”

Risha Pelchat, a fourth-year translation major at Glendon College, called the class “amazing.”

“It gave me the chance to apply what I’ve learned in real life,” she said. “In addition to being able to apply Japanese in a real-life situation, I was able to deepen my cultural understanding. Moreover, the Japanese students were from the same generation and relatable, which made our interactions especially enjoyable.

“The course was invaluable. It took my Japanese to another level. Now, I can write and be confident that people will understand what I’m saying in just about any situation.”

Lisa Endersby, the educational developer from the Teaching Commons who assisted with the GNL portion of the class, added, “GNL is a powerful, practical model for faculty to engage in the same experiences they hope to share with their students – meaningful collaboration, cross-cultural learning and academic work to impact timely, global issues. The faculty I support in GNL projects often share how these experiences are uniquely impactful for their students’ personal and professional development, connecting them to people and places they may have previously only read about.”

For more information on JP2010 and other JP courses, visit the Japanese Studies Program website.

York faculty members interested in exploring a GNL project with a partner overseas can connect with Shirley Lam and Helen Balderama through gnl@yorku.ca.

C4 team receives teaching innovation award

Award stock image banner from pexels

Members of York University’s Cross-Campus Capstone Classroom (C4) team were awarded the 2023 D2L Innovation Award in Teaching and Learning from the Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education (STLHE), which recognizes post-secondary collaborative teams for their innovative approaches to promoting student-centered teaching and learning.

C4, launched in 2019, enables students to work on real-world challenges with social impact, promoting team-based collaboration, advanced research and design, critical and strategic thinking, and more.

The award was bestowed on those associated with C4’s innovative approach to pan-university interdisciplinary experiential education, including:

  • Danielle Robinson, co-founder and academic co-lead of C4, as well as associate professor in the Department of Dance;
  • Franz Newland, co-founder and co-lead of C4, as well as associate professor of Space Engineering;
  • Rachelle Campigotto, classroom coordinator assistant for C4 and contract faculty in the Faculty of Education;
  • Dana Craig, Libraries liaison for C4 and director of student learning and academic success in the Libraries;
  • Danielle Dobney, team culture strategist of C4 and assistant professor in Kinesiology and the Athletic Therapy Certificate program;
  • Andrea Kalmin, curriculum lead, classroom coordinator for C4 and adjunct faculty in the Department of Social Science;
  • Alice Kim, scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL) research lead for C4 and interim assistant program head for Psychology at the University of Guelph-Humber; and
  • Natasha May, Teaching Commons liaison for C4 and educational developer in York’s Teaching Commons.

The D2L Innovation Award is an international recognition, open to applicants from all countries. It evaluates and rewards innovations in pedagogical approaches, teaching methods, course design, curriculum development, assessment methods, and more. It is named after D2L, a cloud-based learning analytics platform.

Award recipients are invited to a retreat held the day of the pre-conference at STLHE’s Annual Conference. This retreat includes a facilitated session, lunch, and a social and learning excursion focused on innovation. At the conference they will be recognized at the Conference Awards Ceremony and receive a certificate in recognition of their work.

York presents second annual Sustainable Development Goals virtual teach-in day

tablet united nations sustainability goals unsdgs

In collaboration with the Teaching Commons, the SDGs-in-the-Classroom Community of Practice is offering its second UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Teach-in Day.

The event, called “The Right Balance: Teaching and Learning the SDGs through Collaboration and Connection,” takes place May 8 from 9:45 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The online half-day event will offer panel discussions, interactive sessions, and experiential learning about teaching, internalizing, connecting and collaborating with the United Nations’ 17 SDGs. The program will also share approaches to working with the SDGs through student, interdisciplinary/interdepartmental and other unique partnerships, as well as encourage strategies for engaging students in SDG-focused lessons.

The York co-chairs of the event are Assistant Professor Sandra Peniston (Faculty of Health), PhD student/SDG project coordinator Nitima Bhatia and SDG project coordinator/curricular expert Tracy Bhoola.

Visit this page for further programming information and register for the event here.