I was first asked by the LTO staff to write a blog entry in August 2014. I make it a general rule to keep my mouth shut and keyboard closed when I have nothing constructive to add. Now, at the end of my first academic year, I have what to share with our readers on my experience as Director. Namely, what have I learned over the past eight months?
- Ryerson is committed to teaching and learning as core values. Other schools extol the virtues of teaching but their agenda is effectively research driven. Ryerson, however, values teaching and research as complimentary goods. If you need proof, our new academic plan, “Our Time To Lead,” places both teaching and learning in the foreground of our mission and strategies. Our President and Provost advocate pedagogical leadership, and Ryerson benefits from the positive externalities of senior administrators committed to giving our students an optimal classroom experience.
- Faculty want to improve their teaching but rarely know where to start. I have several emails from colleagues that read, “I am not sure what to do regarding (fill in the blank), but maybe the LTO has answers.” I am proud to represent a group of gifted professionals that have the answers or work tirelessly to find the information. Faculty generally requires nothing more than best practice literature, but the LTO can provide many remedies including constructive feedback via confidential teaching inspections. Our faculty understands the need for quality teaching and learning, and they are not afraid to ask for help.
- Finally, being the Director of anything is often lonely. I am blessed to have the best job in the world – I am LTO Director, a tenured economics professor, and I practice my discipline at the busiest intersection in Canada. This is my first time in charge of anything, and in reality, I am a small cog in an engine featuring many talented professionals who make me look good each day. When you are the face of an organization, you get too much credit for the positives, and too much blame for the negatives. I try to learn and take away lessons from either outcome. Since you cannot please everyone, the best path is to stay true to your vision for change, be responsible to our ultimate stakeholders, and over time, hope colleagues buy into the plan. President Levy says small plans are worthless – so is the status quo.
The more I teach, the more I learn.