Blog 50

In this 5 part series, Mandy Frake Mistak from the Teaching Commons provides an insight into her experience running and Instructional Skills Workshop (ISW)  at the University of Lincoln in the UK.

blog-5-lincoln blog-5-swans


We woke up on our last morning in Lincoln to the first of grey skies. Still it was worthwhile to head into town and enjoy what we could of our time left. Celia and I were able to do a little bit of shopping in Marks and Spencer’s and Primark (which was such a novelty to me because the stores are open at 8am so you can enjoy some shopping before heading to work!) and grabbed a nice cup of tea before starting our final trek up the hill and back to our cottage. I managed to find a couple of souvenirs for my kids as well as some Cadbury’s chocolate which is a complete must when I go to the UK. I felt rather sad as we climbed up the hill and recall trying to capture every detail of these now familiar sights to memory.

Having packed the last of our things, Celia and I loaded our rental car and began our 3 hour drive to Birmingham where she would drop me off at the airport to catch my flight to Frankfurt. From Frankfurt, I would connect onto Toronto. On the way we brainstormed ISW implementation models for the ISW at the University of Lincoln.  Should the participants see the value of implementing the ISW within their institution they would require additional support in learning how to facilitate the ISW and them adopting a scheme whereby the ISW would become one of their routine offerings. While optimistic that they were keen, Celia and I were both aware of the challenges; time, financial, resources, and so on, which could prohibit the inclusion of this workshop into their existing repertoire of professional development.

This trip to facilitate an ISW at the University of Lincoln turned out to be quite a life changing opportunity. We went to the University of Lincoln knowing that we were introducing the Instructional Skills Workshop to ten participants who were personally selected by the Director of the University of Lincoln’s teaching and learning centre. We knew going in that these individuals were not new to teaching. We assumed that they may have some strong opinions about the workshop and how it should be offered – should it in fact be offered there in future. What I took for granted was how much I might learn from these incredible people. Their generosity of spirit and enthusiasm for learning and for each other each day touched my heart and completely reinvigorated my outlook on my job, the Teaching Commons, and York University, not to mention post-secondary education culture in Ontario or across Canada.

The Instructional Skills workshop is my favourite of our offerings at the Teaching Commons. It is 3 days. It is intense. It is fun. It is Canadian. Not only do I love this workshop for the supportive community it offers its participants but the supportive community that the participants create during their time together. I remark at how ISW participants learn from each other and grow together. Moreover, how much I am always able to grow and learn from them. The ISW engenders participatory learning and the building of community that can transfer back into the classroom and the institution. The ISW is for anyone who teaches – whether you are new with little experience, have been teaching for decades, or it’s been a few years since you last did an ISW. We hope to welcome you soon in an ISW at the Teaching Commons.

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