2020 Clarke Thomson Award for Excellence in Sessional Teaching – Neivin Shalabi

Neivin Shalabi, Sessional Teaching Award 2020

Dr. Neivin Shalabi, Education

Dr. Neivin Shalabi grew up in Egypt where she completed a bachelor’s degree in Teaching English as a Foreign Language and a second bachelor in English Language and Literature. She then travelled to the U.S.A. where she earned her M.A. and Ph.D. in Higher Education from the University of Denver. After that she immigrated to Canada as a skilled professional. Through Dr. Shalabi’s international experiences, she interacted with diverse people and developed intercultural competencies. She capitalizes on these competencies to build safe and inviting spaces for a wider range of students in her classes.

Dr. Shalabi has taught in the Department of Educational Studies since 2016 several courses on research methods, educational administration, curriculum and assessment, and culture, among others. Informed by her research expertise in community engagement in higher education, Dr. Shalabi incorporates service-learning components into her courses enabling students to put theory into practice while addressing identified community issues and building a host of skills.

Watch this video to learn about students’ service-learning experiences in Dr. Shalabi’s course on Canadian Cultural Practices:

In discussing her teaching philosophy, Dr. Shalabi noted, “Irrespective of the subject matter I teach, I aspire to achieving five milestones:

  • Building Safe and Inclusive Learning Environments
    Engaging Students Actively in the Teaching-Learning Experience
    Promoting Holistic Education
    Fostering Critical Thinking, Creativity, and Problem-Solving Skills
    Inspiring Students to Become Change Agents”She shared some of her strategies for achieving these milestones, stating:

“I encourage students to take ownership of their learning. I provide them with autonomy to choose classmates for collaborative work, address issues in which they are most interested when developing their research proposals, and work on service-learning projects that are personally meaningful to them.”

In addition to strengthening Brock University’s civic mission, Dr. Shalabi has led pedagogical trainings for domestic and international faculty in collaboration with the Teacher Education Program and the Centre for Pedagogical Innovation thus advancing Brock’s image and international collaborations.

On of the international faculty members who participated in Dr. Shalabi’s 2019 training program reflected, “Dr. Shalabi is an encouraging, inspiring, innovating, and kind-hearted teacher. My summer learning experience with her in her lectures was memorable. Her caring to people from different ethnics, with different cultural and religious backgrounds is really admirable and respectful. Through her lectures, I have learned how to construct my own personal teaching philosophy under her guidance. She knows well how to evoke the potentials of the students. I feel really grateful to her at this.”

Dr. Mary-Louise Vanderlee, Chair of the Educational Studies Department, writes: “I very much enjoy working with Neivin as she exemplifies what it means to be “caring in education” as posited by Nel Noddings. She truly cares about all those in her community. Being fully engaged in the scholarship of teaching, excelling in the creation of effective, empowering learning environments face-to-face or virtual, she supports respectful dialogue, embodies the principles of diversity, and engages in equitable and democratic decision. Dr. Neivin Shalabi is in fact an outstanding colleague, scholar and educator.”

Neivin consistently receives glowing teaching evaluations. Students’ testimonials, expressed in support letters, course evaluation, anonymous mid-term formative feedback, as well as unsolicited comments, manifest how they are truly enamored of her teaching. Students write:

“I just wanted to say thank you for giving me the space to share my experience. . . . I thank you so much for always taking the time to make each of us feel so special and valued. As you will read in my autobiography, you will understand how much what you do has impacted me both as an educator and a person. I am very grateful that you take every opportunity to raise us up, to cherish our opinions and experiences, and to make us feel heard. You ALWAYS make me feel like what I have to say is important and I cannot thank you enough for that.”

“Dr. Shalabi also attaches great importance to the personal development of students and encourages students to use their strengths and advantages in the class.”

“During the pandemic of COVID-19, Dr. Shalabi implemented technology in the most feasible way to ensure each student’s participation in all the virtual classes. She even ensured successful participation of the Power Point Presentations virtually where everyone had to share their valuable comments. Thus, we never felt exiled or became overwhelmed with only the submission of the written assignments. Rather, we felt more engaged and better monitored by our dedicated and sincere professor.”

“I felt that Professor Shalabi was always able to empathize with the students in our class. I have seen the professor advising my colleagues when they had troubles coping with the stress.”

“It was my first time to come to Canada, and I was not familiar with the local environment . . . Dr. Shalabi helped me get through the transition process successfully with her creative curriculum. “

“I learned many things from Dr. Shalabi’s classes. She was a role model to me in many aspects. I admired her competence, confidence, and energy. I knew I had to do better and become a better person after I had interacted with her.”

“Professor has high standards of requirements towards herself. Also, I can feel the efforts of becoming a superb educational leader and always progressing. I think the professor is a good example of reflective teacher, and responsible researcher. I can perceive the Professor never stops at one point, but keeps exploring the better, more effective, and helpful way to teach students. The attitude of perfection is what we need to become an excellent teacher. It will give teachers initiative to pursue better and further selves.”

Dr. Shalabi’s teaching practises are also well-regarded by colleagues and administrators. Examples of their remarks include:

“I witnessed firsthand how Dr. Shalabi always puts her students’ needs and interests first with everything she does. She designs her courses to provide both a challenging and engaging experience while also creating a safe and supportive learning environment. Student learning is in the centre of every activity and assignment. . . . It is very clear from my perspective that Dr. Neivin Shalabi’s overarching motive as an instructor is the success of her students and coworkers.”
Mrs. Susan Reichheld, Advanced Education Tutor, Faculty of Education

“Dr. Shalabi is an inclusive educator who is dedicated to equity and diversity in all aspects of her teaching. The testimony from her students indicates further her care and commitment to helping guide her students to gleaning the ideals and the practical complexities of becoming engaged and responsibly informed citizens. Dr. Shalabi also has a shining collegial spirit, and I admire her persistent efforts to stay connected and engaged, both to her own craft and profession, as well as to the faculty in which she dedicates her caring energies.”
Dr. Kenneth McClelland, Lecturer, Faculty of Education

“Neivin made a positive impact on the culture of the program, the learning outcomes of its students, and the professional development and collegiality of its teaching and support staff. . . . This work far exceeds the expectations of her sessional teaching contracts. It is clear to me that Dr. Shalabi prioritizes her students regardless of the amount of time, energy, and work she must invest to create enriching opportunities for her students.”
Mr. Clinton Kewley, International Student Services Coordinator, Faculty of Education

“Dr. Shalabi continues to impress me with her dedication to the students and profession. In many ways she exceeds the criteria for an exceptional sessional instructor, and in all ways exceeds the spirit of the Clarke Thomson Award for Excellence in Sessional Teaching. She practices what she teaches, and does so with patience and professionalism.”
Mrs. Susan Virtue, International Programs Manager, Faculty of Education

In recognition of Dr. Shalabi’s outstanding teaching, she won several teaching awards, including the 2020 Faculty of Education Excellence in Sessional Teaching Award. She remarks, “My passion for teaching is driven by my aim to make a positive difference in the world through inspiring my students to become responsible citizens who enact positive change in their communities.”

Examples of Dr. Shalabi’s teaching practices are highlighted in this video: