Written By: Dr. Tranum Kaur, Learning Specialist, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of Windsor
Happy to share my #ONHumanLearn project journey and conversations on humanizing learning in higher education as a #OLDFF fellow from the Department of Chemistry & Bio-chemistry, Faculty of Science, UWindsor. #ONHumanLearn, is one of the huge co-teaching learning project funded by Ministry of College and Universities and e-Campus Ontario, including seven institutions and working through 4 modules namely:
Module 1: Unsettling and Unlearning (Oct 7 and 14)
This module introduced me to a liberating structure of what? So what? And now what? Project leader Jess Mitchell from OCAD, encourages educators to create a brave space by listening to everyone’s ideas. Link here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6xVTNgfgzEQ
Module 2: Students as Agents of Diverse Destiny (Oct 21 and 28)
Conversations in this module revolved around vulnerability and failure, both these key elements help shape us as better educators, as better staff and as better students. Breakout room conversations pointed to de-stigmatizing failures as failures funnel success. Sandie Morgan and Bonni Stachowiak podcast on vulnerability in our teaching talks about vulnerability and sharing at times messy moments with students in our interactive classrooms. For more details, please see: Vulnerability in our teaching – Teaching in Higher Ed. I was especially drawn to the pre-reading for this module written by Patrick T. Maher from Nipissing University along with two 3M teaching fellows showing biggest train wrecks [Train Wrecks | Collected Essays on Learning and Teaching (uwindsor.ca)] and their learnings from those failures. Another, important key take away was to nurture growth mindset (grit & resilience) in contrast to fixed mindset (fail & give up). A 17min podcast-style conversation ▶ The #OnHumanLearn Module Two Team (spreaker.com) [https://www.spreaker.com/user/voicedradio/onhumanlearn] with Terry Greene from Trent University podcast provides more details to this module.
Module 3: Co-creating inclusive communities (Nov. 4 and 11)
Co-creating inclusive communities starts with self-reflection on our failures and awareness of what constitutes a bad environment, check out: Making Space with TRIZ liberating structure. I have captured some of the conversations from this module in the form of infographics.
Starting with “Ethos of care & pedagogy of kindness” as they hold a special place in my teaching philosophy. As seen here Pedagogy-of-care stands on it’s two strong pillars of empathy and compassion. Equitable, diverse and inclusive space for learning involves providing student choices, this could be flexibility in selecting their groups or selecting their own assessment formats. For an example, students’ could choose to submit a written paper or provide a verbal presentation. In addition, scaffolding learning can provide students with opportunities to fail, learn & grow from these failures and succeed.
Further, humanizing learning focuses on building trust and co-creating contents with students as equal partners. P.O.W.E.R framework by Roselynn Verwoord and Heather Smith speaks to the power dynamics, practices and processes for co-creating contents.
Finally, “Sense of belonging” is critical in co-creating inclusive communities and can be nurtured by supporting gender and personal identities. For example, each student has the right to be addressed in accordance with their personal identity (e.g., name, personal pro-nouns). Please see more details on: What are personal pronouns and why do they matter? Embedding diverse role models from Indigenous and BIPOC communities could further strengthen this sense of belonging and helps create a strong unifying social fabric. Shared in our break out room conversation was the R.A.V.E.N framework by Drs. J.Luke Wood and Frank Harris III which beautifully address microaggression.
To sum up, this infographics provides some resources for making a more inclusive humanized space of learning for all (HINT: QR codes)
Module 4: Sustaining Change (Nov 18 & Nov 25)
The keywords for this module revolved around critique and care. In this module, aim was to address the “now what?” component of the liberating structure. Some of the conversations in this module reflected in changes which we would like to make in our own practice, at individual level, institution or system-wide level, at community level and some conversations to sustain this community. Check out: Dr. Fiona Rawle’s recommended reading A pedagogy of kindness: the cornerstone for student learning and wellness.