One thing is that education is forever. And not just education, but also learning how to learn – it’s a gift that keeps on giving. The skills of learning never go away and it's amazing how you can look at things through a different lens thanks to your ability to learn. That’s one thing that I really want to emphasize to students.
Another thing I've learned is that we need to create safe spaces for students to make mistakes. If you don't make mistakes, you can't learn - those two things have to go together.
I feel like it mirrors exactly how I feel about education. When my students ask me how do we solve major problems like climate change, or the potential lack of resource accessibility, the answer often comes back directly to quality education. Where there is quality education, things tend to work out better. It’s where we find solutions.
There are two that resonate with me. One is that we are adventurous in mind and spirit. It’s like my family's daily motto - to get out there and have experiences. That's part of learning, like you go in and you don't know what the other side will necessarily look like.
The second is that we are genuine in the way we behave and deliver. That’s a very important thing for me, of walking the walk, and not just talking the talk. And again, being able to demonstrate that to students so they can see how important it is for their own learning and their own progression – for them to feel that they're in it for the right reasons. That they have a genuine desire to make a change, to do something new and meaningful.
I think for me it's the fact I have an undergrad in one discipline and a masters in another discipline. I'm very proud of that ability to navigate both of those genres in education. Also, my teaching skills, in the sense that I can speak in these different fields. That is something I am quite proud of - it’s like switching languages back and forth.
We are really into a new period now. I developed a whole lot of new skills during COVID, which I am grateful for, and now I feel like I'm using some of those new skills as well falling back on my old ones. As instructors, it’s now about being able to move between different modes of delivery. That is a skill, and we are going to see more demand for it.
Also, being able to truly evaluate what is best for students; that’s the thing underneath and we’ll start to recognise it as more important going forward.
Former Olympic gold medallist Hayley Wickenheiser. She was captain of the Canadian women's hockey team for many years. But after she did all that, she went to med school and she’s now a doctor. She’s also a mother. She grew up in rural Saskatchewan, near where I grew up, and she speaks to her cultural background in the same way I do. I love how she uses her position in such positive ways. She’s an advocate for women in sport, and in science and health. She uses her voice to empower others. She’s remarkable.