A Few Words on the 3M Teaching Fellowship Program … mmm … Where to start?

A Few Words on the 3M Teaching Fellowship
Program … mmm … Where to start?

Dale Roy
3M Program Coordinator, 1986 to 2000

suppose I remember the early years a bit better because the whole idea was brand new and unpredictable. We were busy trying to convince 3M Canada that the Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education was a very real and substantial organization, just the right group to help them celebrate great university teaching in Canada. And yet we weren’t too sure just what that would mean. We were very familiar with the work of some of the best teachers on our own campuses and knew there wouldn’t be any shortage of talent to celebrate.

At that time, most of the great teachers worked in isolation from their colleagues. Their success was something private, held closely by their students but not something to be paraded or celebrated in front of their colleagues. We began to speculate about what might happen if we gathered up ten such stellar teachers and gave them an opportunity to compare notes. And more, what might happen when they discovered like-minded passionate colleagues scattered around the country. If we had a plan, it was just to explore these possibilities.

3M Canada was convinced we were on the right track and sponsored the first gathering at Montebello. We did a few things right that first year-the venue was perfect and we found ten magnificent teachers. They were just the master teachers 3M Canada was hoping to recognize-the kind of teachers that you really want for your own son or daughter-the kind of teachers that change students’ lives.

Each year thereafter, we tinkered with the details. We tried to fix what wasn’t working well and refined the mechanics of the award. Some changes were clearly positive (encouraging nominations from under-represented institutions and parts of the country, working in both French and English, encouraging more women to apply, giving better feedback to nominators). Other changes were quickly abandoned when they proved to be less useful. We worked hard to ensure that the selection process identified exactly the kinds of teachers we could all be proud of. In this, we clearly succeeded.

Over the first fifteen years of the program, I learned from all of the Fellows. When I teach today, their conversations, stories and anecdotes echo in my classroom.

Mostly I made some very good friends.