Let me offer three words to capture my experience over the last year, “teaching for learning.” It is the title I gave to my UTC Learning-Centred Teaching in Higher Education learning portfolio.
While I thought the learning-centred paradigm would be my place to begin the certificate program, it became my destination. The writing of Barr and Tagg (1995) have long formed my thinking on how we should teach at higher education institutions. They wrote, “We now see that our mission is not instruction but rather that of producing learning with every student by whatever means works best” (p. 13). But moving from a thirty-year career in university administration to full-time teaching impacted me more than I thought it would.
My starting point was closer to what Brookfield (1996) wrote when he described the place that most university teachers start. He wrote:
The best learners, people for whom learning a skill comes entirely naturally, often make the worst teachers. This is because they are, in a very real sense, perceptually challenged. They cannot imagine what it must be like to struggle to learn something that comes so naturally to them. Because they have always been so successful in their learning it is impossible for them to empathize with learners’ anxieties and blockages. (p. 10)
While I thought of myself as learning-centred, it is now clear to me that I had far to go before fully embracing “teaching for learning”. What is also clear to me now is that embracing “teaching for learning” is something that I will need to continue to work on for the balance of my career.
One of my University of Windsor colleagues, Dr. Tina Pugliese, a faculty member in our School of Dramatic Art, said to me upon hearing that I would be returning to teaching that “teaching is a privilege”. I couldn’t agree more. The year in the certificate program has led me to a place where it all began for me: student development. I look forward to working with my colleagues and students in the Faculty of Education to support the development of future educators who are compassionate about teaching and enhancing the lives of those they teach. I am humbled by the whole teaching enterprise and hope that I can make a difference in our faculty, university, and world.
Some of my specific teaching goals for the near future include:
- To enhance my skills in teaching online courses, and my knowledge of digital pedagogy
- To increase out-of-class applied learning experiences in the Faculty of Education
- To enhance academic advising of concurrent education students in the Faculty of Education
- To enhance my professional learning network through participation in professional associations, including the Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education and the Canadian Society for the Study of Higher Education
- To continue taking teaching development courses through the University of Windsor Centre for Teaching and Learning and the Office of Open Learning