Reflections on Ped Day 2018
Tim Miller (Physiotherapy)
Ped Day 2018 was a very rewarding experience. One of the highlights for me was a very exciting and energizing workshop on how to use improvisation acting in teaching. Not only did I walk away from the workshop with over 20 different ways to use improv in my courses, I was able to meet over 15 faculty and staff members from different areas of the college.
The afternoon session on inter-professional education was extremely stimulating. We were a group of participants from six programs aiming to work more closely together. The two-hour session allowed us to lay some of the groundwork in our attempt to create overlap and synergy between our programs.
Other highlights were the lunchtime exchanges between colleagues. Due to our busy semester, it is difficult to find the time to sit down with colleagues to talk about teaching. This is why Ped Day is so great. It is the perfect moment to check in and reflect about the practice of teaching, all the while learning something new. These moments of reflection give me incentive/inspiration in my practice as a teacher because I am able to lean on others and have others lean on me. Without these moments to connect, I know I would not be growing professionally at the same rate.
It is the perfect moment to check in and reflect about the practice of teaching.
Anna Lewton-Brain (English)
October 12 was my second Ped Day as a teacher at Dawson and it was an intellectually and emotionally nourishing day. The highlights of my day were Jeffrey Gandell’s workshop “Improv to Foster Collaboration” and George Elliott Clarke’s dynamic keynote address and workshop on “The Poetics of Justice”.
Jeffrey Gandell’s improv workshop was fun and afforded an opportunity to engage with my colleagues in a playful environment. More importantly though, it furnished me with a number of new classroom activities that I have been using and adapting this term in my classes on Romeo and Juliet and Hamlet. Especially with my early morning (8 a.m.) and late night (6-10 p.m.) classes, getting up out of our chairs and moving around is making classes so much more dynamic, and my students are engaging more joyfully with Shakespeare than ever before.
I admire George Elliott Clarke’s work very much, and I have taught Whylah Falls, his epic poem about a fictional town in southwest Nova Scotia, in two different courses at Dawson. I was particularly keen to meet the man who had created such vibrant original and musical verse. He did not disappoint. I enjoyed his candid and engaging keynote address and his workshop in the afternoon during which he read from his recent book Black.
At the end of the workshop, I asked Dr. Clarke to sign my copy of Whylah Falls and this was when he gave me the most memorable gift, more meaningful than a classroom technique or a political idea: he recited for me, from memory, “Look Homeward Exile,” the dramatic monologue that is the prologue to Whylah Falls.
The poem is about longing for one’s homeland and mourning the suffering that has gone before that can never be undone. Even now, the final image of the poem lingers in my memory: “a screw jammed in thick straining wood.” The blank verse of this poem, even when read in silence, has the capacity to evoke tears of sympathetic grief, so it is not surprising that I ended Ped Day shedding a tear, listening to a beautiful poem about my homeland, that I too miss and long for.
Dr. Clarke reminded me about the pleasure of sharing poetry by heart, and I have tried to share that with my students. This term, all my English 101s have memorized poems and performed them for each other’s pleasure. I hope that they will carry the words and images from those poems inside of themselves for years to come, and that those words will be there in their memories just when they need them most.
Quotes from the feedback survey (anonymous)
Feedback on the keynote speaker:
“It was wonderful to have a writer and professor of literature with such a breadth and depth of knowledge.”
“His opinions about teaching were heartening, as he believes that teaching is an essential, worthwhile practice. He also stated that bringing a teacher’s own insight to a class is not only necessary and worthwhile, but a revolutionary act.”
“Communications for Professionals was a fabulous, practical topic for us [professionals], and while I greatly enjoyed the session, I was a bit disappointed to see some of the other nuts and bolts aspects of communication were not covered (i.e. e-mail etiquette, difficult discussions) …”