How GATAcademy Restored My Faith In People

On September 1, 2014, in Conferences, GATAcademy, UWindsor, by gregorynpaziuk

As you’ve probably noticed, GATAcademy is a special time of year for us here at the GATA Network. All the excitement and promise of a new year seems larger when looking at the eager (and slightly fearful) faces of new teaching and learning scholars. This event tends to leave me a little more hopeful every time, whether I am taking part in or just observing intelligent discussions about smart practices in the classroom.

This year I am hopeful for a different reason. This year, like every year, the GATAcademy organizers put out calls looking  for enthusiastic individuals to volunteer as workshop assistants, hosts, guides, etc. However, the response from UWindsor students and alumni was unlike any other the organizing team had ever received. Over 100 people volunteered their time and energy.

The huge response from volunteers was unexpected to say the least and overwhelming to tell the truth. Even for one of the largest personal/professional development events on campus, often drawing hundreds of participants, the sheer number of volunteers exceeded requirements. As such, organizers were put in the rare position of having too much help and could not include every applicant on the volunteering team.

As difficult as it is to be in a position where it is impossible to include everyone, in many ways, the incredible response from volunteers solidified why GATAcademy is so great and why the UWindsor community is so special.

First and foremost, there is the symbolism of it all. There is something wonderful about people volunteering their time to an event that is about the personal and professional development of others. Volunteering at GATAcademy is about wanting to help others succeed. The fact that so many people wanted to volunteer says something, I think, about how much we want our peers to succeed.

Among the applications from potential volunteers, a common theme also appeared: the desire to give back to GATAcademy. So many applicants recalled their experiences at GATAcademies of years gone by, remembering the ways the workshops and the opportunity to meet other GA/TAs had helped to guide them as they embarked on their journey as student teachers. Clearly GATAcademy had also made these people see themselves as part of the teaching and learning community here on campus, just as we all should.

Even more applicants noted that GATAcademy was an opportunity to meet other students and immerse itself in UWindsor’s diverse community. The diversity of people that in no way hinders a shared passion for education make this community unique.

So if you happen to make it to GATAcademy this year – and there is still time to register – stop to consider just how truly awesome it is to be in a community that supports peer development. Teaching and learning are not solitary pursuits, and events like GATAcademy are a reminder that we have so much to learn from each other. Personally, the response from volunteers has also reminded me that people (but really, UWindsor people) are just the best.

Thank you!


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