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WINTERFEST 2020: This year’s teaching and learning festival at Concordia focuses on faculty mentorship

For Daria Terekhov and Meral Büyükkurt, innovative pedagogy begins with peer support and an openness to change
January 20, 2020
By Ashley Fortier


“Becoming a great teacher requires continuous improvement,” says Daria Terekhov,

assistant professor of industrial engineering at the Gina Cody School of Engineering and Computer Science.

She is one of several presenters at Concordia’s 2020 Winterfest — an annual panel-discussion series designed to provide the university’s educators with knowledge and resources to improve their teaching practice. The eight-part event hosted by Concordia’s Centre for Teaching and Learning (CTL) begins January 24 and runs until February 14.

The theme for this year is Leadership and Learning: Ready, Steady, Teach for Tomorrow, and the emphasis is on innovation in academia.

“Participants will hear from faculty who have reflected on opportunities, strategies and methods of innovating and who have put them into practice,” explains John Bentley, senior instructional developer at the CTL and the main organizer for the series.

“Next-generation higher education welcomes opportunities for effective development and immersive experiential learning. Winterfest 2020 aims to support these efforts.”

‘Mentorship is to everyone’s benefit’

Terekhov attributes much of her own teaching success to mentorship opportunities with other Concordia faculty. Meral Büyükkurt, long-time professor of business technology management at the John Molson School of Business, offered her the chance to observe classes and review course materials.

It’s something Terekhov says “revolutionized” the way she thinks about teaching.

The two will present as part of Winterfest 2020’s kick-off panel, entitled “Faculty mentorship at its most: Transferring incredible pedagogies from one discipline to another. How’d they do that?”

Büyükkurt says most people think of the mentorship relationship as a one-way flow of information, with the benefits falling largely on the mentee.

“I prefer to think of it as bi-directional; in addition to the mentor sharing knowledge, the mentee contributes feedback and questions,” she notes. “This creates the opportunity for the knowledge to evolve through the mentorship process, to everyone’s benefit.”

It’s a perspective that Terekhov definitely shares.

“Regardless of its form, what is important for mentorship to work well is a shared passion for teaching, a continuous improvement mindset and an openness to new perspectives,” she says.

Adapting to a new generation of students

Terekhov also believes that one of the paths to ongoing improvement in teaching is learning to welcome and embrace change.

“You should be ready to radically change your courses and your teaching approaches in order to adapt to a new generation of students.”

That change can come at the level of course materials as well as pedagogical habits, she adds.

“We have to be willing to disrupt our practices in order to improve the overall learning experience.”

Beyond mentorship, this year’s Winterfest program offers Concordia faculty a chance to engage with topics ranging from decolonizing teaching to achieving a work-life balance and more.

Register for
Winterfest 2020, which runs from January 24 to February 14, to learn about bringing innovation to the practice of teaching.

Learn more about the Centre for Teaching and Learning, its services and resources available throughout the year. 


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