When I started this blog in 2010, it was a way for me to record my experiences as part of the Carl Wieman Science Education Initiative (CWSEI) in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of British Columbia. The posts evolved beyond astronomy education to other fields of science and to my adventures working with UBC faculty who were transforming their classes from traditional lecture to more student-centered instruction, particularly through the use of peer instruction with clickers.
I learned with each success and failure that transforming a course is about helping the instructor change the way s/he teaches, not simply about creating new materials.
This focus on people took me to the University of California, San Diego as the Associate Director of the the Center for Teaching Development now part of the Center for Engaged Teaching within the Teaching + Learning Commons. There, I get to work with graduate students, postdocs, full-time instructors and faculty in the assistant-, associate- and full-professor stream. And not just STEM fields, anymore. One of my biggest discoveries, and joys, was seeing how different teaching and learning works in history, political science, psychology, physics,…, and yet, how much there is in common. After all, it’s the same students. I had the privilege to teach a CIRTL – inspired teaching and learning course, The College Classroom, each Fall and Winter quarter and support the Summer Graduate Teaching Scholars program. I learned so much about learning communities and diversity from the 400 graduate students and postdocs [PDF] who I encountered in those programs.
It was not my plan (nor my family’s) to move permanently to the U.S. so I deliberately took the opportunity in San Diego to watch my mentors – Beth Simon, Gabriele Wienhausen, Bob Mathieu. That education prepared me for the job I’d been waiting for. In July 2016, I returned to Canada and the University of British Columbia Okanagan campus as the Director of the Centre for Teaching and Learning and Senior Advisor for Learning Initiatives in the Office of the Provost. As Director, I’m leading a group of talented learning specialists who support teaching and learning (and the campus LMS) at UBC Okanagan. The “Senior Advisor for Learning Initiatives” is a new position, reporting directly to the Provost. I’m really excited to provide a voice focused on teaching and learning in plans and decisions that impact the campus.
Mine is not a traditional academic trajectory. The work I’ve done teaching, supporting teaching, and learning to manage a teaching and learning center – all that work prepared me for this opportunity at UBC Okanagan.
Huh, every four years to the month, something big happens. New campus leadership at UBC Okanagan decided to restructure the Centre for Teaching and Learning and eliminated the position of Director, and therefore, me. I’m proud of what my team and I were able to accomplish over the last four years, particularly the last six month where we helped course instructors with the pivot to “emergency remote teaching” and then helped them prepare for teaching online in the Fall, all because of the covid-19 pandemic.
While I search for a long-term position, I’m grateful for an opportunity to work remotely as an educational consultant in the Centre for Learning and Teaching and the Faculty of Engineering at Dalhousie University.
Waiting anxiously for July, 2024 🙂
Here’s a few ways to contact me:
- email: peternewbury42 at gmail.com
- twitter: @polarisdotca