3M Scholarly Retreat

banffAs part of the Award, 3M Fellows are invited to participate in a 4-day scholarly retreat to:

  • Celebrate excellence in teaching and to reward outstanding teachers from Canadian universities;

  • Introduce successful teachers to one another;

  • Provide an opportunity for Canada’s most successful university teachers to share their experience.

The Fellows are given a weekend retreat at the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel. That’s where the real magic happens, beneath the sweeping peak of Mount Rundle and the way it seems to point us forward and upward. If you have never taken a seat in the Ivor Petrak room at the Banff Springs and sat quietly, soaking in the view, you must add it to your to-do list on your next visit to Banff. Breathtaking is an overworked adjective, but it fits the setting of our retreat sessions precisely. The hardest job of the facilitators, and probably the participants, is to engage fully with the group, rather than sidle over and press noses against the glass. Curiously, the sumptuous view reminds us we are together to talk about big things, important things, and in a way, timeless things. Teaching, the thing we share. There, the cohort evolves into a living cell of the greater Fellowship.

It is rare to have these conversations about teaching in our daily university lives, so they are even more precious in this glorious setting. One eye-opening comment—one of many—emerged from a discussion of how teaching is recognized in universities. It is no secret that higher education values research and the revenue it generates, and higher education struggles to recognize great teaching. One participant revealed that he was never going to generate enough research funding to make him a Full Professor. But he said, “I’m a teacher. This, the 3M, is my Full Professorship.” The room was hushed with respect. Everyone nodded in full accord. A profound truth had been uttered.

Shannon Murray & Rick Schwier
3M National Teaching Fellows & 2013 Retreat Facilitators
Ron Marken
3M national Teaching Fellows Awards Coordinator

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