Message from the Director

Welcome to the Centre for Teaching Support & Innovation’s (CTSI) 2016-2017 Annual Report. As you read through this report, you will see how our five CTSI teams provide support for pedagogy and pedagogy-driven instructional technology for all teaching staff and teaching assistants across the University’s campuses and divisions. Importantly, we are happy to provide a wide range of services to support instructors in their courses, be they face-to-face, online, hybrid, or through Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs).

Weekly you might see staff from our Centre working with instructors in a workshop, providing one-on-one consultations, engaging with a cross-discipline community of practice, organizing a pilot technology initiative, linking instructors for engagement in peer mentoring for teaching, supporting teaching-related inquiry and the dissemination of results (i.e., Scholarship of Teaching and Learning or SoTL), or leading a symposium or other community event. Ultimately, our goal is in helping University of Toronto instructors develop and realize their teaching aspirations. Collectively we are striving to create significant learning experiences for the almost 89,000 students we teach across three campuses of the University of Toronto.

Professional learning is not just for “new” instructors, but rather, reflects the building of instructional excellence at all stages of careers. Our CTSI staff support university instructors as they document their teaching successes, innovations, and challenges, and provide feedback as they build their teaching dossiers that are integral to annual review, tenure and promotion processes. However, the work of our Centre is not just about encouraging individual instructional expertise – it is also about how we build cultures within departments and divisions, and across the University, that support effective teaching. It is our belief that teaching in higher education is no longer a sole endeavour – it takes a team and a team mindset. That team includes registrars, educational developers, librarians, technology professionals, student support staff, teaching assistants, and a host of others who are working to maximize student engagement and success. CTSI serves as a hub where we work to create bridges across units and services, in order to strengthen partnerships and, ultimately, to serve as “boundary spanners” in support of more powerful teaching and significant learning. The work of CTSI reflects our broader institutional priorities, with an emphasis on the synergy that is possible between our teaching and research priorities, both of which are career-long undertakings, nurtured from the day that one is hired, supported by others, and carried out with others throughout one’s career.

As leader of CTSI, one of the realizations from my forty plus years in education is that my understanding of what it means to be a “Good Teacher” has evolved. In particular, my work with university faculty has taught me to think more about the verb, rather than the noun. “Good Teaching”, therefore, is about the dynamic intersections of learning – it is about connecting, questioning, collaborating, and improving to better serve our students. This is the work of CTSI and of teachers across the University of Toronto. And, it is what educators are striving to achieve when they simply state: “I am a teacher.”

Carol Rolheiser
Director, Centre for Teaching Support & Innovation and Professor, Curriculum, Teaching and Learning, OISE