December 7 2017 | Campus Life
Ahna Berikoff receives 2017 Distinguished Teaching Award
Four faculty members received one of MacEwan University’s highest honours in 2017 for outstanding teaching and their commitment to education leadership. Ahna Berikoff, Sandy Jung, Etayankara (Murli) Muralidharan and Lisa Prichard are the most recent Distinguished Teaching Award recipients.
Your prof could be next!
Nominations for 2018 Distinguished Teaching Awards are open until December 15, 2017.
I’ve been teaching for most of my adult life, and my experiences with students of all ages have taught me the best of what learning can be—the fun, the value of interrelationships and the importance of teaching out of care.
University classrooms are a bit different from the Waldorf schools and Russian language classrooms I taught in early in my career, of course, but there is still continuity. The first time I walked into a square university classroom with rows of chairs and tables immediately got me thinking about how we could reimagine the environment to foster creativity, accommodate different kinds of learning and encourage collaboration. As much as I can, I try to set things up in the round where everyone can see me, but I’m not the focal point. I’m in the circle with them.
“When we find a way out of the silence—as teachers and as students—it’s joyful, it’s meaningful and it’s where so much of the learning takes place.”
I draw a lot of my teaching philosophy from my Doukhobor roots and heritage—hospitality and welcoming students, the invitation to learn together, the humility of being a collective unit in the classroom where I don’t necessarily have to be the expert all the time. The students in front of me have knowledge and expertise too, and I love learning from them.
In universities, we still teach from what I think is a very Eurocentric foundation, one that informs our curriculum, our courses, our assignments and our modes of delivery. But my students remind me that the classroom isn’t a homogenous place. That students come with different cultures, ethnicities, orientations, experiences and knowledge. Sharing those things in the classroom means taking a risk, and so does challenging instructors, the environment or the curriculum. But that’s exactly what we want students to do—to be critical thinkers. When we find a way out of the silence—as teachers and as students—it’s joyful, it’s meaningful and it’s where so much of the learning takes place.
—Ahna Berikoff, Associate Professor, Bachelor of Child and Youth Care program and a 2017 Distinguished Teaching Award Recipient
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