Gathering celebrates teaching excellence at Brock

The spotlight this week was on Brock University educators who have made a substantial impact in the classroom.

For the first time since 2019, Brock’s Centre for Pedagogical Innovation (CPI) hosted an in-person event for its annual Tribute to Teaching on Monday, Dec. 12.

This year’s gathering, which invited the Brock community to come together to celebrate the Distinguished Teaching Award and the recipients of the Brock-wide excellence in teaching awards, took place in the atrium of the Roy and Lois Cairns Health and Bioscience Research Complex.

CPI’s Interim Director Giulia Forsythe was excited to share the efforts of instructors with the entire Brock community.

“Instructors spend so much time and energy planning, designing, implementing and reflecting on how to create the most meaningful learning experience for students,” she said. “The nomination packages are truly documents that tell the inspiring stories of these teaching journeys. I love hearing about the variety of creative instructional methods and assessment strategies that take place in Brock courses.”

After delivering an address about inspirations that have impacted his own teaching practice, this year’s Distinguished Teaching Award recipient, Associate Professor of Kinesiology Timothy Fletcher, said it meant a great deal to win the award in a community where excellent teaching is a priority.

“Brock has always been a place where teaching is so highly valued and it is nice to know that I am able to make a contribution to the efforts at Brock to advance innovative teaching and to be in the company of so many other excellent teachers whose work has been and will be acknowledged,” he said.

Fletcher said his students were a key component in advancing his teaching.

“They challenge me in good ways and their curiosity always makes me think about what I am doing and why I am doing it,” he said. “I can’t go into cruise control with Brock students. Every time I teach, I see their enthusiasm for learning, their engagement in classes and the quality of their interactions with me and with one another. We have fun learning about teaching together. Teaching is not an exact science, so we support each other in developing deeper understanding of its complexities.”

Along with Fletcher, 2022 teaching award recipients included:

  • Natalie Spadafora, Instructor of Child and Youth Studies, received the Clarke Thomson Award for Excellence in Sessional Teaching;
  • Kate Cassidy, Assistant Professor of Communications, Popular Culture and Film, and David Hutchison, Professor with the Centre for Digital Humanities and Chair of Educational Studies, received the Don Ursino Award for Excellence in the Teaching of Large Classes; and
  • Alisa Grigorovich, Assistant Professor of Recreation and Leisure Studies, and Priscilla Burnham Riosa, Associate Professor of Applied Disability Studies, received the Excellence in Teaching Award for Early Career Faculty.

A portion of the ceremony also allowed for the in-person conferral of awards to recipients from 2020 and 2021.

With past and present award recipients gathered in one place, Forsythe said the event was an ongoing reminder of the role instructors play in Brock’s student-centred approach to teaching and learning.

“Tribute to Teaching is a celebration of these teaching and learning journeys,” she said. “It’s important we make space to acknowledge and value these experiences. Brock has always been an environment that cares deeply about the student experience — effective and caring teaching is core to this as the packages of all nominees demonstrated.”

To learn more about the Tribute to Teaching, visit the CPI website.

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