Dr. Shelly Wismath receives prestigious 3M National Teaching Fellowship

This article is about my sister Shelly, the eldest of six siblings in our family and my first teacher. Mom and Dad would be very proud of you!

University of Lethbridge professor Dr. Shelly Wismath can count herself among the best university teachers in Canada. She is one of 10 university teachers to receive the 3M National Teaching Fellowship, an award that recognizes exceptional teachers in post-secondary education.

Dr. Jan Newberry, Wismath’s nominator and U of L anthropology professor, describes her as a “teaching ninja” who possesses a subtle and diplomatic style.

“Shelly has served as mentor and inspiration to me and to many other colleagues and students,” Newberry wrote in her letter of nomination. “She represents the best of what teaching can be as a career, a vocation and a model for life and learning.”

Wismath spent many years as a mathematics professor and researcher in abstract algebra. In 2009, she moved to the Liberal Education program and began focusing her research on the scholarship of teaching and learning. She played a key leadership role in building and sustaining the U of L Teaching Centre and became the inaugural Board of Governors Teaching Chair in 2007. Wismath is currently spearheading the revitalization of Liberal Education. In addition, Wismath initiated and secured funding for the long-standing Women Scholars Speaker Series.

“My reaction was stunned silence on the phone. I couldn’t believe it,” says Wismath. “It’s a huge honour to be in that group. I love teaching; it’s always been a part of what I do. It’s amazing to have that kind of recognition.”

Wismath’s philosophy of teaching arises from her experience in both mathematics and liberal education. She combines the logical reasoning and search for pattern that characterizes mathematics and the critical thinking and problem solving that mark liberal education into a philosophy that hones in on how people think, learn and reason.

“My goal is to share with my students the interactive process of asking questions and formulating and testing out answers, and engaging in vibrant discussion to learn more about ourselves and the world around us,” she says.

Wismath works hard to build relationships with her students so they feel comfortable in the learning environment and the approach works. One student wrote “I recall the many thought-provoking articles she assigned with the hopes that we, as students, would question the content of. She did not want us to merely read and accept blindly what the authors had argued, but to come to our own conclusions and situate the information within our own understandings of the world.”

“The great thing about teaching is that we learn as much from our students as they learn from us and that’s been really true for me in the last few years with a problem-solving course I designed,” she says. “That course has been the capstone of my teaching career. I’ve learned that you don’t teach people problem solving. You facilitate their learning. It was a steep learning curve for me but the students were just tremendous. They taught me a lot and were very generous with their reflections, their attention and their thoughtfulness about their learning.”

Wismath also credits the U of L for providing her with the flexibility to continue her education and to pursue topics she’s passionate about.

“The U of L has been a great place to nurture teaching as well as research,” she says. “I’ve been very lucky to have had the flexibility that I’ve had to spend time on teaching instead of research at certain points in my career or to combine them or to take on projects.”

The 3M National Teaching Fellowship brings several opportunities. In addition to becoming a life member of the Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education and the Council of 3M Teaching Fellows, Wismath will be invited to attend the annual conference in Halifax and a teaching and learning retreat. This is the second time a U of L professor has been awarded a 3M National Teaching Fellowship. Dr. Patricia Chuchryk, a sociology professor, received the award in 1999.

 

Source: Dr. Shelly Wismath receives prestigious 3M National Teaching Fellowship | UNews

Advertisements

A busy birthday week in Corpus Christi, Texas

Corpus Christi, Texas is a beautiful city to visit, especially when the weather is cold in my hometown of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.  Last week I surprised my sister for her birthday, spending a whole week with her visiting all of the popular tourist spots and catching up on sister stuff. The surprise party was held at Talon’s Sports Bar, owned and operated by friends of my niece, and a great location for the party to kick off the birthday week…

191158_168146446569665_2840614_o

 

As mentioned in my previous post, I did manage to get some gardening in by planting a garden in my sister’s front yard.  I do love seeing the different varieties of plants that grow in the places I travel to.  I knew that succulents and cactus are prevalent in Texas, I just never knew there were so many varieties of each…

 

Another great thing about vacations is that I don’t have to cook.  This past week I experienced most of the culinary delights Texas has to offer.   At restaurants, a few of which are located right on the water, I feasted on seafood, including delicious crab cakes and gumbo, Mexican, Italian and Thai food,  and of course steak, a Texan favourite.  Home-made, deliciously spicy, chicken tortilla soup, pico de gallo and guacamole prepared by my niece, as well as jalapeno peppers stuffed with cream cheese, then wrapped in bacon, grilled to perfection and served with sausage wraps on the beach by her husband.  I think I will stay away from the scales for a few days…

 

To wear off some of the calories, I was coerced into dancing, Texan style, at my sister’s favourite nightclubs Whiskey River and  Ropers . Thanks to her very patient and kind dancing friends Sinoel, Martin, Benny, Ray and others, I had lots of fun and many laughs trying to master the art.  One-two-three and quick-quick-slow are still echoing in my head…

 

Of course, when heading south to escape a Canadian winter, you have to go to the beach. The beaches in the Corpus Christi area of Texas are spectacular and plentiful.  Padre Island National Seashore, McGee Beach, North Beach, Packery Channel and Mustang Island are just a few popular spots.  Even though this was my fifth visit, I still find the waterfronts confusing.  Bay, gulf, channel, port…

 

My last day in Texas was the only one warm enough (78F or 26C) to hit the beach.  Although I found the water was too cold for anything more than dipping my toes, there were a few brave people playing in the waves.  It is winter in Texas too, although winter temperatures there are much more enjoyable than those here.  We walked the beach during the day and then enjoyed a bonfire on the beach using dried out Christmas trees collected from curbs in my sister’s neighbourhood…

 

We spent a few hours shopping for bargains too, and even though the Canadian dollar is currently so low in value, I was still able to get a few good deals on clothing.  Although we did not venture across the border into Mexico, I picked up a few Mexican inspired souvenirs in Texas, including an adorable ceramic gecko for my garden and some tequila…

IMG1941

 

The best part of this trip to Texas was the opportunity to spend quality time with my sister, her children and grandchildren.  I kind of put her on the spot by showing up, not just for her surprise party, but also announcing that I was staying at her place for a week.  I had already made arrangements with her son to use his bedroom in her home for the week.  Thanks to Facebook messaging, I was able to make plans with my niece and nephews before my visit without my sister suspecting a thing.  The only time she was suspicious that something was going on was when her son got up early the morning of my arrival to clean up his room.  Also fortunate, and much appreciated, was the fact that she was able to play hooky from work all week to spend time with me, thanks to her staff Cristi, Chrisy and others.

The birthday week in Texas was a huge success and tons of fun, but over much too fast.  Reality has called me back home to Canada and my sister back to work.  Arriving back in Ottawa via Houston and Toronto, I was greeted by snow and missing luggage, both indicators that all good things must come to an end…

1

 

Please be sure to visit my other blogs:

Laugh out loud (LOL) with me at YOUR DAILY CHUCKLE

and

be inspired and motivated by famous words of wisdom at WoW

My gardening website can be viewed at GARDENS4U

 

 

Everything’s bigger in Texas, especially the surprises

This week I am in Corpus Christi, Texas to help my sister celebrate her 60th birthday. My niece planned the party; my job was just to show up.  I flew from Ottawa to Chicago to Houston to Corpus Christi, landing a mere 45 minutes before the surprise party started Saturday afternoon.  My sister’s birthday is not until Wednesday, January 13th, but we decided to make it a birthday week…

Flying into Corpus Christi, I could easily see why it is dubbed “the sparkling city by the sea”…

 

Arriving at the restaurant where the party was held just 10 minutes before the guest of honour, my brother and I took our positions behind the bar pretending to be bartenders.  Our sister arrived, was greeted by her friends and family who guided her to the bar for a margarita. The expression on her face when she realized the bartenders were her brother and sister visiting from Canada was priceless…

 

The surprise party was a huge success, just the beginning of a wonderful week spent with my sister I haven’t seen in several years.  Stay tuned for more pictures as the birthday week goes on….

 

Please be sure to visit my other blogs:

Laugh out loud (LOL) with me at YOUR DAILY CHUCKLE

and

be inspired and motivated by famous words of wisdom at WoW