UWTL Conference 2023: A Look Back
The 14th Annual University of Waterloo Teaching and Learning conference was held this past May 3 and 4, with a day of online pre-conference workshops preceding the in-person conference, the first since our last in-person conference in 2019. After two years of online conferences to sustain conversations around teaching and learning in the midst of the pandemic, the energy and community-building emerging from our return to in-person was inspiring.
This year’s theme was “Teaching and Learning with Kindness and Care”, providing us an opportunity to explore pedagogies of care and kindness in higher education which give us space to support one another in our teaching and learning journeys. Based on mutual trust and respect, educators using these pedagogies undertake purposeful strategies to demonstrate kindness, care, compassion, sympathy, and empathy when they interact with students. These pedagogies are learner-focused, with relationships between learners, instructors, and peers central to how we construct our learning environment. Important to this overarching theme is fostering a sense of belonging for learners that is inclusive, equitable, and supportive for everyone, even when the learning environment is challenging.
Over the course of the two days, we saw over 490 registrants share their teaching and learning practices, research, and experiences through presentations, panels, workshops, posters, and teaching and learning showcases. A combined 74 sessions presented examined a diverse range of topics, including trauma-informed pedagogies, supporting learners in the online environment, embedding care and kindness in STEM, the role of community, understanding faculty burnout, and more.
We were grateful to have Barbara Moktthewenkwe Wall (Trent University) join us as our keynote speaker, sharing Bodwewaadmii Anishinaabe philosophies and theory and how she has applied both to course design and creating interactive learning communities in small and large university classes. Our afternoon plenary session, Igniting our Practice, featured Sanjeev Bedi (Mechanical and Mechatronics Engineering) and Tamara Maciel (Kinesiology), each of whom recreated a successful instructional approach to showcase the excellent teaching being done on our campus.
With plans already underway for next year’s conference, we look forward to continuing conversations around teaching and learning with you.