Preparing a Teaching Award Nomination

photo by Johnny Guatto

You know a faculty member who is a beloved and well-respected teacher, who has had a strong influence on the teaching culture of your department or division, is involved with research on teaching and has acted as an educational leader.  You might think to yourself, this person should be recognized for their valuable contributions to teaching and learning at the University of Toronto. They should be rewarded!

You google ‘teaching awards university of toronto’ and a long list pops up – you click on the link for the ‘President’s Teaching Award ‘and are faced with another long list of criteria. How do you know if your candidate meets the requirements? How do you best showcase the accomplishments of this faculty member?

Preparing a teaching award nomination can seem like an enormous task, but it is a valuable undertaking. A few simple tips can help you begin to conquer this process:

  • Get in touch with your prospective nominee and let them know of your intentions. Not only is it important to have their consent for the nomination, you will need information from them including course evaluation data, course materials and names for letters of support. If your nominee has a teaching dossier, this material will be your starting point.
  • Review carefully the criteria for the award you have chosen and match your nominee’s accomplishments to the various sections. Focus on the breadth of accomplishments your nominee has achieved, but be sure to build a strong narrative case. Telling a story about your nominee’s teaching and following this thread through the award file is vital – this way you can demonstrate how their teaching values and practices have developed over time, how they play out in the classroom and the extent to which they have a positive impact on learners.
  • Educational leadership is an important part of institutional and external awards. This component can be hard to define, but look for occasions where your nominee has acted as a leader in your department, in your faculty, in their discipline and externally. Committee membership (e.g. curriculum committee), administrative positions linked to teaching, influential publications on teaching, conference presentations related to pedagogy, examples of where teaching resources developed by the candidate have been shared with others or cited by others – these are all examples you can use to bolster the educational leadership component of the file.

In addition to these basic tips, we are here to help! At CTSI, we provide support to U of T administrators and instructors for the following awards: the University of Toronto President’s Teaching Award, the provincial OCUFA Teaching Award and the 3M National Teaching Fellowship.

The President’s Teaching Award is a university-wide honour that recognizes sustained excellence in teaching, research in teaching, educational leadership and the integration of teaching and research. Winners of the award become members of the Teaching Academy, an advisory group offering guidance to CTSI and  input to senior leadership on teaching-related matters. The nomination process for the 2016 awards will be announced in November 2015. The OCUFA Teaching Award is presented by the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations, and recognizes outstanding teachers at Ontario universities. The OCUFA committee looks at a wide variety of areas including classroom instruction, supervision, course design, research on teaching, and educational planning and policy making, among others. The 3M National Teaching Fellowship is a prestigious award presented by the Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education (STLHE) and 3M Canada to reward exceptional contributions to primarily undergraduate teaching and learning at Canadian universities.

If you are thinking of nominating a colleague for a teaching award, join us at CTSI on December 8th from 2:00pm to 4:00pm for a roundtable discussion on preparing a teaching award nomination. We will provide  more details about the three awards listed above, including nomination processes and essential criteria nominators should meet when drafting a file. (Please note that this roundtable is meant for nominators – not the candidates being nominated.) We will offer advice and suggestions regarding the assembly of nomination dossiers and will discuss how academic administrators can mentor future award candidates, drawing on CTSI’s years of experience in supporting these nominations. Sample winning nominations will be available for participants to review.

REGISTER for the Roundtable

In addition to the roundtable, CTSI staff can provide guidance and feedback on  nomination files for the PTA, the OCUFA and the 3M National Fellowship. . For the OCUFA and the 3M, CTSI can also assist with the compilation of the award dossier, with sufficient notice. If you would like to meet with a CTSI staff member separately regarding an award nomination, please contact or 416-946-3139.

For more information on recognizing and valuing teaching at the University of Toronto through awards read our blog post from December 2014.

By Erin Macnab, Programs Coordinator, CTSI