Celebrate Learning Week and Thompson-Okanagan 2024 Highlights

Celebrate Learning Week

From May 6 to May 10, 2024, the CTL and CTLT facilitated Celebrate Learning Week (CLW), a cross-campus showcase of teaching and learning activities and strategies around the theme, “Remembering the Human in Loop.” There were 31 events in total: 10 internal events organized by the CLW programming committee, CTL members and CTLT members, and 21 external events organized by facilitators across both campuses. In total, there were 1,290 attendees, including the UBCO Keynote and Closing Plenary that was also part of the Thompson-Okanagan Teaching & Learning Conference. Presentation slides and recordings are available on the CLW wiki and highlighted sessions are featured in the May issue of Edubytes. Read on for special snapshots of in-person events on our Okanagan campus.  

Sajni Lacey, Learning and Curriculum Support Librarian, organized a half-day Educators and Facilitators Retreat. She shared that the group had open and honest conversations about the challenges of teaching single sessions, workshops, and facilitations at a university without the time, relationships, and capacity of full-term courses. It provided a platform for meaningful discussions and insights into the challenges and opportunities faced by those in our educational community.  Challenges discussed, including assessment and feedback, navigating academic culture, incorporating social justice and EDI topics, engagement, as well as voluntary versus voluntold/required sessions. Problem-solving and strategies for developing community were part of our wrap-up. Participants actively engaged in dialogue, sharing their experiences and perspectives, which contributed to a rich conversation. Thanks to all who attended! 

Sally Stewart, Associate Professor of Teaching in the School of Health and Exercise Sciences, led an inspiring session on “Cultivating the Reciprocal Benefits of Wellbeing Practices for Faculty and Students.” A key takeaway was that when instructors incorporate wellbeing practices into their teaching, not only are they communicating and providing care to their learners, but also strengthening their own sense of wellbeing through those small but impactful acts of care. Below is a list of strategies that the group co-created to foster wellbeing, many of which can also increase student engagement and foster class community. Scan the ideas to find what you might already be doing and that you could add that complements your teaching style and fits with your personality. 

  • Class environment: 
    • Let natural light into the room; bring a fake natural scenery backdrop to pin up if there is no window 
    • Set up standing stations so students don’t have to sit the whole class time 
    • Have class outside if/when possible 
    • Check-in on different areas of the room: “How’s my back row/section doing?” 
  • Intentional arrival: 
    • Ask for an “entry key” to get into class (in-person or Zoom) such as a smile, hello 
    • Have students write a list of what they need to do so they aren’t thinking of them during class 
    • Give a few minutes for students to get water, make their learning space comfortable 
  • Warm-up: 
    • Play music/video that allows for collective mindfulness; can co-create a class playlist 
    • Take some collective breaths together 
    • Display inspirational quote 
  • Student-Student Connections: 
    • find an eye partner from across the room to make contact with and later move to sit with for activity 
    • find a buddy who likes to sit where you sit and learn something about them, exchange contact info if they would like a study buddy 
  • Instructor-Student Connections: 
    • Show your personality so that students feel comfortable and know you care 
    • Use laugh therapy; add humour 
  • Breaks: 
    • Give 10-minute breaks in a longer class to get air and take a stroll 
    • Schedule in-class movement breaks, including inviting the Move U Crew to class 
    • Provide technology break to look at their phone for 3 minutes and then put away again 
  • Exam-related: Compile “endurance kits” before an exam (dark chocolate, gum, stickers, highlighters, etc.) 
  • Creativity: provide time for students to create something (even if just colouring some pre-printed sheets), share what they have created outside of class 
  • Apply to the Wellbeing Strategic Initiative Fund to procure materials/resources for your own wellbeing-related ideas 
  • Check out the health and wellbeing resources for faculty and staff 


Inaugural Thompson-Okanagan Teaching and Learning Conference 

UBC Okanagan, in collaboration with Thompson Rivers University, hosted their inaugural Thompson-Okanagan Teaching and Learning Conference. Educators from around western Canada gathered to share their stories of scholarship and practice. This two-day conference featured Workshops, Oral Presentations, Lightning Talks, Poster Presentations, sandwiched by an engaging keynote speaker, Jessica Riddell (Professor, Bishop’s University), and an expert educational leadership closing panel of Ramon Lawrence (Academic Director, Centre for Teaching and Learning), Brett McCollum (Director, Centre for Excellence in Learning and Teaching), Jessica Riddell, and hosted by Brad Wuetherick (Associate Provost, Academic Programs). The momentum from this successful event will be continued and hosted next year by our colleagues at Thompson Rivers University. See you there! 

Read reflections from the talk on a Community of Practice on Access, Inclusion and Place-based Teaching active on our campus, so you can continue your engagement with colleagues until next year’s conference!”