Nomination Deadlines: Awarded twice annually, spring and fall.
- August 15
- Nominators can be: students, alumni, faculty, departments, or colleges are eligible to nominate a candidate
- Nominations and supporting materials: limited to 50 pages. Additional materials may be submitted (but only as one copy) as an appendix to be stored at The GMCTE for consultation by interested members of the committee
- Selection Committee: The Provost and Vice-President, Chair, and recipients of the Master Teacher Award.
About the Award
The University of Saskatchewan recognizes teaching as one of its primary functions, and it expects its faculty members to strive for excellence in teaching and learning. Faculty invest in their teaching so our students can receive a rich and satisfying educational experience in an academically vibrant learning environment. The University wishes to encourage investment in outstanding teaching and the Master Teacher Award provides one tangible acknowledgement of exceptional pedagogy at the U of S.
The recipient will receive a ring or a pin and an award of $1,000 and a master plaque listing past recipients of the award will be displayed in a prominent place on campus. Two awards are made annually - one at the Spring Convocation and one at the Fall Convocation
The Roles of the Nominator and the Nominee
It is the responsibility of the nominator to build a case for the nominee from the evidence provided by the nominee and gathered from others. This may seem transparent, but it is not. Building a strong case is essentially creating a story out of the evidence, telling the committee who the person is and why the person is an outstanding teacher. In other words, it is critically important that the nominator puts effort into identifying themes in the data and communicating the reasoning behind a nomination. This goes beyond submitting a CV and a stack of student evaluations; it involves the same kind of careful analysis and writing that we practice every day in our scholarship. The nominator aggregates information, makes sense of it, and weaves a coherent set of messages about the nominee. Data and summaries should be selectively provided to illustrate points, but a concise page that weaves a compelling story about the person is just as important, if not more important, to understanding why the person deserves to be recognized as an exceptional teacher.
In other words, don't leave it up to the Selection Committee to make sense out of the data. A case that is comprised of a collection of student and peer evaluations, letters of reference, teaching materials and a strong curriculum vitae but doesn't tell the committee about how these elements interact will not be as persuasive as a case that assembles a coherent and concise description of why a person is an outstanding educator.
The nominee often plays a supporting role to the nominator. A nominee provides much of the data, but can also provide critical advice on how data fit together and can be interpreted. We recommend that the nominee play an active role in shaping a case and helping a nominator understand the themes running through data. This means that the nominator will need to share information gathered on behalf of the nominee. Sharing data can be sensitive, particularly when letters of reference are requested, so we recommend that the nominator alerts writers that information may be shared with the nominee.
But the Master Teacher Selection Committee voiced different opinions about the role of the nominee in the nomination process. We include a statement from one recipient who was not aware that she had been nominated and was not involved in the process of developing the nomination package. We learned that several members of the committee had similar experiences so we include her advice below.
Perhaps because of my own experience of being nominated but not involved in any way in the assembling of the nomination, I have a different view of the nomination process, and I feel a little uneasy about the nominee essentially applying for the award once a couple of people have offered to nominate. My own sense is that a Department Head or Dean or Associate Dean in a non-departmentalized college who is a long-time colleague of the nominee is ideally placed to initiate and co-ordinate such a nomination, and should be encouraged to consult with the nominee and solicit a statement of teaching philosophy from her or him but not turn the process over to the nominee. Students or faculty wishing to make a nomination could be encouraged to approach the Head or Dean, but need not secure their approval to proceed with the nomination. This process would allow for letters of reference to be kept confidential, and thus would encourage more free and frank disclosure in my view."
Advice and Guidelines
The following advice was assembled by previous recipients of the University of Saskatchewan Master Teacher Award:
We want to offer advice to help nominators build strong cases for nominees. We recognize that there are many outstanding teachers on our campus, and that documenting a case for a nominee is a rewarding, but time consuming and case-specific task. Please consider the following suggestions when you construct a case to give the Selection Committee a vivid sense of your nominee's personality, strengths and accomplishments. We deliberately avoid setting rigid criteria for submissions because we want to encourage you to create an exciting nomination-not one that is confined to a narrow set of pre-defined categories.
At the same time, we want to provide guidance that draws on our experience from reviewing nomination packages over the past several years. We sensed that the nomination materials didn't provide the kind of advice that would help nominators construct the best possible cases for their candidates.
Excellence in teaching should not be narrowly defined. However, a Master Teacher will be expected to:
- Establish a reputation among students and colleagues for superior teaching including the ability to interest, engage and excite students and to motivate them to achieve high standard
- Have a comprehensive knowledge of the subject matter and excellence in scholarship
- Make a contribution to the enhancement of the educational activities and responsibilities of the university
- Provide evidence of student learning (not just student satisfaction), and
- Demonstrate proficient and innovative pedagogy.
Statement of Philosophy
The nominee should write a compelling statement of teaching philosophy for the case. Philosophy statements can take many different forms, but may include things such as a description of the nominee's beliefs about teaching and learning, the role played by teaching personally and institutionally, why teaching is important to her/him, what she/he believes about learners and their responsibilities, or what metaphor(s) inform her/his teaching. There isn't a formula for a good philosophy statement, but it should be clear, engaging and personal. It should reveal the nominees beliefs, values and motivations and give examples of how they are manifest in her/ his teaching life. The philosophy statement should be interesting to read.
Documentation and Evidence
As mentioned earlier, we do not want to provide a checklist of topics that a case should address, nor do we want to prescribe what should be included as evidence in a case. We believe that a good case will be as unique as the person it presents to the Selection Committee. Evidence can take many forms, and it isn't restricted to these items, but we offer the following ideas:
- Letters from colleagues that provide "evidence" of good teaching, and that make specific reference to pedagogy
- Letters from former students that describe the influence of the teaching on learning, describe learning outcomes and comment on lasting influence on the students. Ideally, letters will not merely "acclaim" that someone is good at helping others learn- they will provide a first-hand, eye-witness account of it
- Documents that illustrate course organization and effective practice. Documents can be annotated to make links to effective practice
- Descriptions of effective teaching methods and strategies developed or used by the nominee
- Evidence of community engagement, outstanding presentations and workshops, service learning or the expression of teaching in communities external to the University of Saskatchewan
- Examples of leadership in teaching organizations, participation in conferences, or faculty development units
- Examples of innovative teaching materials, including media and multimedia. These are best used to illustrate specific teaching skills or values, and in most cases should include only brief extracts. For example, if a course Website is included, it should probably just be a printed page or two from the website that is annotated to describe how it illustrates particular aspects of the case. Merely submitting a URL to the site will not illuminate the case or compel the Selection Committee to review it in its entirety
- Peer reviews of teaching, particularly those that focus on specific elements of teaching
- Samples of course syllabi
- Examples of evaluations done of student work
- Evidence of successful teaching at both undergraduate and graduate levels. For example, one aspect of superior teaching at the graduate level might be evidence of where students have gone and what they have accomplished. Similarly, descriptions of undergraduate students who have chosen to do graduate work under the direction of the nominee or have gone on to graduate studies elsewhere because of their learning experience with the nominee could be used as evidence of superior undergraduate teaching
- Summarized and annotated student evaluations of courses. If statistically based, normative data are helpful, and it is important that the nominator provide a clear description of the context and interpretation of the data. If non-statistical data are presented, it is important to situate the results by describing the context of the course, a representative sample or complete set of student comments, and a commentary on how the summarized information compares with that of peers.
In the final analysis, the development of a case is an artistic act. You are attempting to make a person come alive in the minds of the Selection Committee. The Selection Committee does not use a standardized approach to evaluating cases, but we are influenced by clarity, economy, vigor and grace in the preparation of the case. We want to find and reward the very best teachers we have on campus, and we want to enlist your help in accomplishing that difficult goal. As one of our groups eloquently put it, "We want to find the person who can teach the phone book, and make it engaging and meaningful."