Habib University’s Faculty Reboot Week, aimed at professional development for faculty to acquire new skills, recently came to a successful conclusion. According to Dr. Anzar Khaliq, the Associate Dean for Teaching and Learning, the desired outcome was to “create pedagogical experiences which are in line with the needs of the modern day”.
Organised by the Centre for Pedagogical Excellence (CPE), before the beginning of the new academic year, a total of 18 sessions were conducted which drew upon the knowledge of both local and foreign academia.
In line with the CPE’s commitment to innovation in teaching and ensuring that exceptional educational experiences are delivered, the sessions covered the unique teaching challenges faced due to the COVID-19 pandemic and their student-centric solutions. Some sessions, such as “Rethinking Teaching Statements” conducted by Dr Glen Van Brummelan, a historian of mathematics at Trinity Western University, were reflective in nature focussing on what makes one unique as an educator and how to develop meaningful teaching identities and engage in conversation.
In addition to rethinking teaching practices, there was a focus on how to engage with students and make learning an inspirational experience for them. Dr. Fred Leichter, the founding Director of the Rick and Susan Sontag Center for Collaborative Creativity (The Hive) at Claremont Colleges and Clinical Professor of Engineering at Harvey Mudd College, conducted an ‘unusually’ titled session, “How Might We Make a Zoom Class Feel Like a Dinner Party with Friends?”. The session was particularly insightful and drew upon his experiences at the Hive and how he integrated reflecting, sharing, and fun exercises to create meaningful connections between his students.
While discussion revolved around innovative strategies to optimise learning experiences, other sessions were designed to recognise the effects of added stress due to online learning. John Armstrong, a lecturer and fellow at Stanford’s Design Program, held a session on “Wellbeing for Students and Faculty Inside and Outside Classroom”. It focused on holistic well-being to help faculty in managing work-life balance and being able to convey useful strategies to their students. Dr Humaira Jamshed, an Assistant Professor for Integrated Sciences and Mathematics at Habib University, conducted a workshop “Stress Repress” aimed at identifying the signs of stress, ways in which it affects the body and the brain, and how an adult brain differs from a teenage brain in stress perception and management.
As Faculty Reboot Week came to a close, Dr. Khaliq reflected on the immense progress Habib’s faculty has made, “I am amazed by the creative response of our faculty and the quality of ideas that have emerged from these conversations. We now have many new and critical insights (and possible solutions) for a number of challenges that will truly enhance the overall learning experience of our community”.
By creating spaces where knowledge can be exchanged and discourse is encouraged, Habib University has the ability to leverage innovative solutions to society’s multifaceted issues, proving its commitment to teaching excellence.