A New Season in the Teaching Commons
By Geneviève Maheux-Pelletier
Today, my son returned home from his first day of school, under feels-like 40 degrees Celsius, thankful that central AC was installed in his school last year. Perhaps his classmates were bothered by the heat outside more than he was, or perhaps less. In any case I bet their learning experience would have been very different without it!
Just like the weather, learning is experienced differently depending on prior experiences, preferences, contextual factors, and the ability to cope with or maximize a particular set of circumstances that interferes with or facilitates learning. While this may sound pretty obvious, implementing teaching and learning practices that recognize and leverage the subjectivity of individual experiences is an ambitious proposition, particularly when we as instructors contemplate this challenge on our own.
This academic season, the Teaching Commons returns with an exciting suite of workshops, courses, and events designed to encourage collegial conversation and support around the student experience. Through informed dialogue, winning strategies can emerge and help answer challenges that many instructors face. How does generative artificial intelligence change the learning process? How do students use and leverage AI in their daily lives, in their coursework? How can we support students as they learn to use AI ethically? We will contemplate these questions and more in a new community of practice aiming to foster critical conversations about the implications of generative AI (see the details here) for higher education. Furthermore, the upcoming York University’s Summit on Generative AI in Higher education, to be held October 18, 19, and 20, will provide a space for AI experts, experienced York instructors and students to come together and discuss the impact of AI in our learners' educational journeys.
Another way to bring the student perspective at the forefront of teaching is by enrolling in the Assessment Institute, a two-day in-person intensive learning opportunity delivered during Reading Week. This new initiative invites participants to work closely with peer faculty members, educational developers, writing centre colleagues, and undergraduate student consultants to redesign assignments for their courses.
The Teaching Commons is offering several learning opportunities and credentials for graduate students interested to learn more about teaching in post-secondary education. Our newly redesigned programming has been informed by and gone under an iterative design process using Decolonizing, Equitable, Diverse, and Inclusive (DEDI) pedagogical frameworks in addition to Universal Design for Learning (UDL), Culturally Sustaining Pedagogies, and Learning Science.
And finally, we are launching a 10-part workshop series on Trauma-Informed Pedagogies that offers practical strategies for supporting students and instructors themselves while developing a trauma-informed classroom.
About the Author
Geneviève Maheux-Pelletier, PhD, is an educational developer, educator, and scholar of teaching and learning currently serving as the director of the Teaching Commons at York. Her work and scholarship aim to foster a dialogic relationship between teaching and learning in higher education, with a particular interest in reflective and experiential learning, students-as-partners, and evidence-based educational development practices. She has published her collaborative work in book chapters and peer-reviewed journals such as Teaching and Learning Inquiry, Teaching in Higher Education, and the International Journal of Academic Development. She also currently serves on the editorial board of the Canadian Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning. While she finds great fulfillment in her work, her most joyful satisfaction comes from the ups and downs of raising a preteen.