…for collaborative and diverse development of teaching and learning at the department.
I received this award in collaboration with my departmental colleague, Dr. Judit Hahn, with whom we have collaborate in recent year quite intensively on various initiatives related to teaching development. The award is granted by the Vice Rector of the University of Jyväskylä, Prof. Marja-Leena Laakso, upon recommendations from the Educational Council of the university (more on the award: here).
Everything started one day in the coffee/break room in our department… We haven’t yet known each other with Judit as I joint (back) my department after two years since I completed my PhD. During this time, the unit has grown as a result of merge of two departments, these of communication and languages. So, yes… the coffee-room… we got to know each other by simply complaining on a lack of equal treatment in university policy (and thus also on department’s and faculty’s levels) the two main activities, that is, ‘research’ and ‘teaching’. Those who succeeded in research received recognition, but small and big achievements in teaching practice remain silent. As a consequence, raising an issue to develop quality of teaching in the department (or university) seems not be a popular activity or topic for discussion.
I am not experienced teacher, but Judit is. I do not have much opportunities to teach, so I research topics related to university pedagogy and teaching practices, especially in a context of visual education. As a team, we introduced the Teachers’ Chat Room (TCR), a space and a time for all members of the Language Campus/Department who are involved, or interested in teaching to share their ideas, good practices, excitement, frustrations, accomplishments, and questions related to teaching and education. The TCR is a place for both junior and senior members of the university community interested, or involved in teaching. During the TCR meetings we have opened up the following topics:
- the first lesson: lesson planning, icebreakers, tips and tools for a good start;
- digital tools in teaching;
- object-based learning and visual literacy (guest: Dr. Olivia Meehan, Melbourne University, Australia);
- trial lecture: preparation, performance and evaluation (forthcoming TCR);
The main idea behind the TCR is to create an informal meeting-place for sharing, peer-support and learning from each other. Thus, to develop university teaching and pedagogy in a community spirit.
We are also involved in few more initiatives related to teaching development (e.g. The First Year Experience development group; making teaching visible on department’s website; extensive publishing on topics related to pedagogy), hoping that in the future, teaching, and thus, excellence in teaching will receive more recognition. I also hope that in the future, faculty members receiving this and similar awards will hear ‘congratulations-words’ from the heads of their units as they would have heard if this would be an award for the research merits…