Category Archives: Students today

I came upon a student in distress


 

One afternoon last fall, I went to the washroom in the McLennan Library. Unexpectedly, I heard sobbing coming from one of the stalls. I bent over to look for the shoes that would indicate which stall the sobbing was coming from. I saw the shoes; I also saw a bum in jeans. Someone was sitting on the floor of the stall sobbing uncontrollably. I knocked on the door and asked, “Do you need help?” No response other than more sobbing. I knocked again. This time I said, “My name is Carolyn Samuel. I work down the hall at Teaching and Learning Services (TLS). Can you open the door?” There was no vocal reply, but I heard the latch click. Gently, I pushed the door open. She was a student. She sat sobbing and didn’t even look up when I opened the door. I asked if I could put my hand on her shoulder. She nodded. I was hoping the human touch would provide her with some comfort in what was clearly a time of despair. “Can you tell me your name? Your first name only.” She did. With some coaxing, we went together to my office. She continued to sob. I asked only a few questions. She was an undergraduate student from Toronto. It was her first semester. She felt she was falling behind. She agreed to walk with me to the Office of the Dean of Students. On the way, she stopped suddenly. Still sobbing, she blurted, “I can’t go! I have to be in class now or I’ll fall behind even more!” She was in no condition to go to class. With a little more coaxing, we made it to the Brown Building, where I left her in the hands of the staff at the Office of the Dean of Students.

Have you ever thought about what you would do if you found a student in distress on campus? If you’ve never thought about it, you probably should. Continue reading I came upon a student in distress

Taking audiences’ cultural and linguistic backgrounds into consideration when communicating at mcgill


A recent publication entitled Twelve tips for promoting learning during presentations in cross cultural settings provides “tips for educators to consider when planning and delivering formal presentations (e.g. lectures and workshops) in cross cultural settings” (Saiki, Snell, & Bhanji, 2017, p. 1). I’d like to highlight the relevance of these tips to communication at McGill—through classroom instruction, meeting presentations, Town Hall talks, etc.—in light of the cultural and linguistic diversity at this institution. Continue reading Taking audiences’ cultural and linguistic backgrounds into consideration when communicating at mcgill

Expectations (of graduate students and supervisors)


A very thoughtful post from Prof Chirs Buddle on the importance of setting expectations for graduate students and supervisors.

Interested in discussing the topic further? Register for the TLS workshop on “Clarifying Expectations in Graduate Supervision” on Feb 25th, 2pm-4pm.

Arthropod Ecology

I have been running a research laboratory for close to 15 years, and I’m ashamed to say that I have not written down, formally, my expectations* of graduate students and their expectations of me. I regret this, especially since there are amazing resources out there to help with this discussion. I would argue that differing levels of expectation is probably a key source of conflict in research laboratories, and having a solid agreement between graduate students and supervisors is key for success.

Here is some context for my laboratory: I run a mid-sized laboratory (currently with three MSc and three PhD students and two undergraduate Honour’s students), focused on studying arthropod ecology. As a Professor, my job involves teaching, research and administration. When running my research laboratory, the three tasks overlap – for example, I’m a lab ‘administrator’ in some ways, including ordering supplies, dealing with budgets, working on…

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Teaching What’s Important: Symposium Highlights


On December 11th, 2015, McGill’s Teaching and Learning Services (TLS) held a symposium for faculty with a focus on translating aspirations for student learning into pedagogical strategies. The event, Teaching What’s Important: Educating Students for Today and Tomorrow, called upon a range of university professors to showcase their strategies and experiences, and join the discussion about the possibilities for undergraduate education at McGill. With a turnout of 135 (a mostly faculty members, but also staff and a few students), the discussion was certainly though-provoking. For some highlights, please see below: Continue reading Teaching What’s Important: Symposium Highlights

How do you talk to students? [The Sandbox]


How do you talk to students is an important question to reflect on as we start thinking about next term. Earlier this Fall, the McGill Office of Sustainability posted a very interesting piece on their blog, The Sandbox, addressing this very issue. Many thanks to them for letting us repost it here.

MOOS Students

A question that staff often bring to MOOS is, “How do you talk to students?” In a campus as siloed as McGill’s, it’s understandably difficult to break down the geographic and cultural boundaries between students and staff. Our secret? We regularly emphasize why students are fundamental to the work that we are doing, and we actively seek out ways to partner with students.

Why are students important? Continue reading How do you talk to students? [The Sandbox]

Finding Direction as a Postdoc – A Leap of Faith


In January this year I made a huge leap of faith in my academic career; sideways in terms of a new field of specialisation, and what sometimes feels like backwards in terms of my professional status. After 8 years of teaching, I started a postdoctoral fellowship here at McGill, took a pay cut, threw myself into many unknowns, and have had moments of excitement as well as utter fear: what if I’ve made a mistake? But I did it in order to have a chance to work at the world-class McGill Faculty of Law, and knowing that many successful careers are made not by climbing a single ladder, but by trying out new things.

Continue reading Finding Direction as a Postdoc – A Leap of Faith