The CHA Teaching and Learning Blog 2022-2023

Published on September 13, 2022

Welcome back to the academic year, 2022-2023!  After a short break this summer, we are happy to let you know that the teaching and learning blog is published weekly each Tuesday, in English and French.  Contributors are invited to submit blog ideas, completed blogs in the language of their choice.  This blog is open to undergraduate and graduate students, post-doctoral fellows, post-secondary educators and K-12 teachers who have an interest in history and pedagogy. We welcome longer posts which may be published as a short series as well. If you have published a blog that you feel may reach a wider audience, we are also able, with permission, to re-publish the blog.

Blogs should be between 800 and 1200 words. Contributors are encouraged to include hyperlinks and images that can be included.  Blog submissions should use Chicago Manual of Style for footnotes. Contributions that consider teaching assignments, experiences in the classroom, successes and failures, work with primary sources and many other topics are encouraged. All posts will be translated to ensure blogs appear every week in both official languages.

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Committee Members

Nicholas Fast

Nick joined this committee in 2022 as the sitting Graduate Representative on Council. He is a PhD candidate at the University of Toronto’s Department of History where he is writing his dissertation on the deindustrialization of meatpacking facilities in Winnipeg and Chicago during the Post War period.

Nick: The last three years of shifting from in-person instruction to online and back again has pushed my pedagogy into new and exciting directions. In-person teaching provided instant feedback on clarity of delivery (blank stares usually indicate a need for further explanation) and the opportunity to get to know students. Short conversations before and after class allowed me to connect with students and, leveraging my experience as a stage actor, use my energy to fuel student’s enthusiasm, which in turn fuels my energy level.

However, online teaching forced my pedagogy into new directions. Sometimes spending one-hour sessions staring at blank zoom screens and the only student feedback coming from the Zoom chat box at first was demoralizing. I compared it to being a Twitch streamer or YouTube content creator. But this was an opportunity to explore other ways of engaging students, such as asking an unrelated poll question at the beginning of class or playing music like my dad did for his high school students. Soon, students were engaging at similar levels as they did in person and these approaches – among many others! -- became integral parts of my teaching as I returned to the classroom.

I hope that educators are never required to teach only via zoom again, but, as educators, I hope that this became a learning opportunity for all of us!

Lisa Chilton

Lisa joined this committee in 2022. She is a professor in the History Department at the University of Prince Edward Island, where she is also the founding director of the Applied Communications, Leadership, and Culture Program in the Faculty of Arts.

Lisa: Since I began directing my own courses at UPEI in 2003, my teaching has involved significant rounds of self-scrutiny together with enthusiastic explorations of new ways of engaging with course contents and teaching methods. However, there has been no period in my career that has so thoroughly challenged me to think critically about what I do when I’m teaching as the past couple of years. COVID-19 has fundamentally altered my relationship with technology and the “classroom.” Like many of my colleagues, I’ve learned new skills in video production that I would never have contemplated. I’ve also enjoyed developing new ways of engaging with students’ written work through mentoring sessions online in google docs – it’s a way of engaging that I will keep! As an historian of Canada, heightened public conversations concerning residential schools for Indigenous children in Canada have given me a sense of increased urgency over the past couple of years to engage with the history of colonization and its enduring legacy in ways that are even more meaningful and ultimately useful for my students. On multiple levels it’s been a transformative period for me.

Jo McCutcheon

Jo has been part of the Teaching and Learning Committee for several years and has been part of the blog since it began publication.  She teaches part-time at the University of Ottawa and is also Executive Director of the Association of Canadian Archivists.

Jo: Teaching since March 2020, I have experienced a range of teaching and learning moments.  I continue to be in awe of students who have navigated the online teaching class with care and respect, even when they were faced with challenges at home, in their working lives and in their other classes.  I hope that I have developed more attention, patience and space for the diversity of learning styles that cannot be easily addressed in large online classes. I also hope to continue to adapt and learn from new students as we return to face-to-face learning and to navigate the needs of students who may have yet to complete a term of classes in person and on campus.  If initial feedback is any indication, it may yet be a while before all classes and all students return to the campus as it was in March 2020.

One element that I have truly missed over the past two plus years are the opportunities to run workshops and small group learning in the larger lecture classes.  I did not have the capacity to make this happen during the pandemic and I truly have missed the engagement and learning that can take place in person.  I do see the value of being open to having student attend online and I will continue to be flexible in this regard. I hope that the blogs and material we are able to share this year amplify and support the work you are undertaking.

In addition to the blog, committee members manage and adjudicate the teaching awards.  Watch for announcements in December calling for nominations.

Past Teaching Prize Winners: 

 2022 Teaching Prize Winners
Funké Aladejebi and Benjamin Hoy

2021 Teaching Prize Winners
Mary Chaktsiris, Mairi Cowan, Gordon Baker

2020 Teaching Prize Winners
Kristin Semmens and El Chenier

If you have a syllabus that you would like to share with colleagues, consider submitting to the CHA Syllabi Central.  Established in 2016, there are more than 32 syllabi that have been shared.







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