Designing a Meaningful College Ped Day

The Tradition

Pedagogical days, in the college environment, have historically been an occasion to supplement college teachers’ classroom experience with emerging pedagogical knowledge and teaching strategies.

It has shown itself to have limited effect on changing teaching practices because it does not resonate with most faculty members. There are two reasons. First, most college teachers are hired without any pedagogical certification or expertise. They are content specialists whose most recent educational experiences have been as students in a university environment. There, teaching practices of long standing are rarely enriched by pedagogical theory.

The second reason is that, without realizing that pedagogical knowledge is central to teaching, some teachers resent experts telling them how to teach.

An Opportunity

Ped Days are rare occasions where the entire college community can be together. A Ped Day is therefore an opportunity to build the College’s real teaching platform, the Champlain community.

There are three underlying principles that can make this goal a reality.

1. Community

We are not overstaffed at the College. This means that everyone here is essential to the mission. All groups within the College should feel welcome and find activities of specific and mutual interest.

Input and participation are essential elements. This is where the collective responsibilities for civility and the development of a healthy workplace can be addressed.

Food and hospitality are a key part of the Quebec tradition and provide an initial opportunity to connect with others. Just meeting new people helps us to create a sense of belonging to a talented team doing great work.

2. Diversity

As an employee community of 300 people it is inevitable we will have a wide range of interests. If we free ourselves from the obligation to appear “pedagogical” we can address diverse subjects using varied formats and activities.

This certainly includes addressing pedagogical issues, both theoretical and practical. We have an evolving group of pedagogues. Supporting them is the best mechanism we have for improving the quality of teaching in our College.

Offering choice will boost enthusiasm for Ped Days and can make them events not to be missed.

3. Humanity

We can treat people as their role or as their person. Teaching English is a role but the person who teaches it may also be a mother of three young children. Many of our colleagues have kids, some have grandchildren. Others just have dogs. 🙂

Each day their preoccupations include their work, their home, and the larger environment. Many parents worry about their children’s future in the face of a menacing climate crisis. Their own health and that of those around them is an eventual focus in everyone’ s life.

There are two issues we must address in acknowledging each other’s humanity, wellness and the environment.

Wellness

We become more informed day-by-day about human wellness. Yet the workplace continues to demand more in terms of good health.

Stress is implicated in many medical and psychological problems. It also reduces people’s effectiveness. New technology actually increases the amount of work we do and ties us more closely to the workplace for longer hours.

Sitting for long periods of time, particularly in front of a computer screen, presents its own threats to health.

The Environment

We must confront environmental issues, local and global. It is essential that we move beyond simple admonitions of environmental responsibility and begin to dig deeper into the details of carbon and plastic pollution. We are in the knowledge business and nowhere is knowledge more needed than in these two areas. As a community, we need to join with our students in making a deeper dive into the facts we will need in order to be a part of the solution.

In Summary

Regarding the recent Ped day activities, I wanted to mention that I found them to be exceptional; kudos to all of the members who took the time to organize and present their interest in the varying workshops.  It is apparent that the college is wanting and willing to listen to all, care about our health, wellness, and future at the college, and demonstrate an openness for change for the betterment of not only students, but for us as well.  The only downfall was that many teachers and other members of the college were not there to benefit from the exercises.  If that many people do not participate in sharing and understanding the ‘community’ efforts, then we cannot speak the same language (so to speak), understand one another’s views, and know in what direction we are heading.  A real shame.  I am hoping we can have more of these types of workshops, perhaps one or two main focal points to have more time to share and plot concrete findings, and have all on board.

A big THANK YOU for the time and effort made, and cheers to all who were quite  innovative, worked hard with their findings while keeping us engaged, and definitely well-fed by the staff in the cafeteria who were courteous and attentive!

Laura~
(Pellicciotta)

2019-01-21