Call for Proposals

14th Annual Teaching & Learning Symposium


EVENT DATE: MAY 12-14, 2021 (online)

Appointed faculty members, faculty working as CLTAs, librarians, sessional instructors (CUPE 3902, Unit 3), and administrative staff can submit proposals. For the first time this year, we are accepting a limited number of proposals from graduate students in CUPE 3902 Unit 1 working as sole-responsibility Course Instructors (CI). Teaching Assistants (TAs) and undergraduate students cannot lead a presentation but may co-present with a faculty member or CI.

Questions about the call for proposals or proposal submissions process can be directed to the Centre for Teaching Support & Innovation at

In light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and U of T’s transition to online/remote teaching and learning, we believe our roles as teachers and learners have grown in new and unexpected ways. Our connections and working relationships with students, colleagues, staff (both administrative and educational technology professionals), and teaching assistants have changed as we learned with and from each other during a tumultuous time.

We invite proposals that address the below themes, that incorporate impacts felt through the past several months and that reflect our shift to online/remote teaching.

Given current circumstances, please note that the 2021 Teaching & Learning Symposium will be offered fully online.

Note: Given the pandemic and the expansion of this year’s CFP to include the experiences of instructors moving to online/remote teaching, we are conducting a new review process for Symposium proposals. People who submitted proposals for the 2020 Symposium are welcome to resubmit and update their proposals based on their learning and experiences over the past months.

symposium theme

Our goal at this year’s virtual Symposium is to create space for exploring diverse approaches to professional learning for instructors, librarians and staff at any stage of their careers. The three days of the virtual Symposium will feature a variety of entry points to learn more about pressing issues and transformative teaching techniques and highlight innovative approaches that take us outside of our day-to-day approaches to teaching, encouraging exploration, innovation and connection. This growth mindset will drive our approach to this year’s Symposium, as we engage in meaningful professional development for teaching with instructors and staff across all career stages, from those new to their roles to those more experienced.

This University of Toronto tri-campus event, hosted by the Centre for Teaching Support & Innovation and the Desautels Centre for Integrative Thinking, Rotman School of Management, is intended to stimulate discussion and the sharing of research, practices and experiences around teaching and learning. It is a cross-divisional forum that allows instructors, librarians and staff to celebrate their commitment to teaching and learning.

This year’s virtual Teaching & Learning Symposium takes a broad approach to thinking about professional learning for instructors. We ask: what is professional development in teaching and learning and what does it look like in practice across our campuses? In particular, we are interested in the continuum between teachers and learners: learning about and engaging with effective teaching practices and how these subsequently impact student learning, how we incorporate peer and student feedback, modes of instruction that connect with and involve students on new and innovative levels, how the roles of teachers as learners, learners as teachers are being redefined, and how the diversity of the University of Toronto and our communities at large impact, define and transform teaching and learning both for our students and for us as educators.

Examples of practices that reflect teacher-as-learner or learner-as-teacher might include, but are not limited to:

  • Building awareness and sharing practices related to priority areas in higher education, such as online teaching and learning, inclusion and equity, mental health, Indigenizing teaching and learning, universal design for learning (UDL), experiential learning, active learning
  • Connecting groups of instructors through professional or disciplinary networks, communities of practice, or informal local networks
  • Mentoring models for instructors that focus on mentoring for teaching
  • Teaching initiatives that involve students as partners (co-educators, co-investigators), sharing agency in the classroom
  • Investigating teaching and learning practices through teaching-focused inquiry and scholarship

proposal threads

In light of the different practices and approaches mentioned above, this year’s theme will be explored through the following symposium threads. They are defined broadly and are not limited to the examples or descriptions provided. We welcome submissions that address the questions noted below and we are interested in submissions that pose unexpected, new, critical and scholarly questions in these areas. Proposals that seek to address any of the below threads through the lens of the shift to online/remote teaching are particularly welcome.

Mentoring, coaching and network-building for teaching: How do we build our teaching networks (locally or more broadly)? What are examples of communities of practice that guide us? What mentorship or coaching models do we find fruitful for teaching or when working with a teaching team (e.g., other instructors and/or TAs)?

Designing instruction with all in mind: How can we as instructors learn to design barrier-free learning at our University? What are innovative ways of incorporating universal design for learning (UDL) practices into our classrooms and pedagogies? How are we applying this understanding to different modes of course delivery: online, hybrid and face-to-face? How are we applying this understanding to flexible approaches to assessment and active learning?

Mental health for instructors and learners: How do we create positive learning environments for our students that promote mental wellness? How as instructors can we be mindful of our own mental health, in particular, when we find ourselves working in newly complex teaching and learning contexts (e.g., the pivot to online/remote learning)? How can we work towards inclusive curriculum and teaching approaches to build resilience and provide support to our learners?

Decolonising teaching and learning: How can we as educational designers, pedagogues and instructors leverage the many dimensions of cultural diversity in our courses and programs? For those of us with the experience and understanding of Indigenous educators and staff, how are we approaching this work at an institution as large and decentralized as the University of Toronto? For non-Indigenous instructors and staff, how can we contribute to the integration of Indigenous perspectives into new and existing curricula? What opportunities for inclusion and change can we create in U of T programs? For everyone, what effective responses can we create to answer the Truth and Reconciliation Committee Calls to Action? How are we learning from our students and our communities in order to create more inclusive environments for learning? How can we bring anti-racism work to bear in our classrooms, both online and in-person?

Experiential and community-based learning: What kinds of learning will support our transition as instructors to use effective community-based and/or experiential learning strategies for all teaching and learning contexts? What can help with the creation and navigation of experiential learning opportunities in the online space? What community-based and/or experiential learning principles and pedagogies can we incorporate in our teaching to best support U of T students? How can we leverage the experience of our students to help them learn, and help us teach through community-based and experiential learning? How do we promote the value and efficacy of these pedagogies among students, particularly in the current online/remote learning context?

Inquiry and reflection: How do we think about our teaching, the impact on student learning, and how to improve our students’ learning over time? How can we examine our support of students’ development into lifelong learners and their transition into learners as teachers who, in turn, support the growth of peers throughout their careers? How can we leverage data and metrics we collect on our students to enhance learning? What are some strategies for building inquiry and reflection on teaching into our ongoing practices? How do we recognize the impact of our teaching and then capture and communicate this to others? Particularly, how will we think back on our experiences through this past year, capture what worked and what didn’t, and identify new ways forward post-pandemic?

proposal formats

Please see the Teaching and Learning Symposium (TLS) FAQ for information on technical requirements for individual formats (e.g., pre-recorded videos for Lightning Talks and Inquiry on Teaching and Learning posters) and the level of support provided to TLS presenters.

The virtual Symposium will feature a plenary session, concurrent sessions and networking opportunities held over the three days. Proposals for concurrent sessions will be accepted for the following formats. We encourage prospective participants to incorporate undergraduate or graduate students into proposals, either through direct sharing of their experiences or as co-facilitators where appropriate.

Please note that each proposal format has an attached protocol to guide submissions. The submission protocol will support the peer review process. Detailed instructions can be found on the proposal submission forms.

Interactive Online Workshops (1 per session)

  • 45-minute synchronous session
  • 20-minute live presentation + 25 minutes of discussion/activities

Interactive online workshops combine presentations and discussions with activities that engage all participants in working towards a clear goal. Participants in the interactive online workshops should be asked to generate something through individual or collaborative work, such as reflective writing, collaborative brainstorming, generative problem-solving, etc. Prospective facilitators are asked to submit a general outline of the session, including outcomes and interaction processes. Note that online synchronous activities such as responding to polls, posting in the chat, writing on whiteboards or files, or contributing to shared documents are all suitable interaction processes. Applicants are encouraged to model interactive processes they have used effectively in online environments during the past year.

Inquiry on Teaching & Learning Poster + Talk (2 per session)

  • 45-minute synchronous session
  • Each person will have 20 minutes to offer a 15-minute live walk-through of poster + 5 minutes of live discussion

These sessions will focus on sharing a teaching and learning-focused inquiry project, providing a snapshot of the design, methods and initial findings from in-progress projects or results from a recently completed inquiry project. Presenters will submit a research poster that will be available for viewing prior to the session on the Symposium website. In the 45-minute live session presenters will review their posters and then lead a discussion on their project.

Lightning Talks (3 per session)

  • 45-minute synchronous session + 5-minute pre-recorded video
  • Each person will have 10 minutes to offer a 5-minute overview + 5-minute Q & A

Presenters will pre-record a short 5-minute video* that will be posted on the Symposium website and viewed by participants asynchronously prior to the session. In the live 45-minute session, presenters can quickly summarize their “lightning” strategy/assessment/tool, highlighting its impact, and then facilitate a 5-minute question-and-answer discussion.

Lightning Talk videos will address one of the below categories:

Teaching Strategies/Techniques: these sessions will focus on sharing effective teaching strategies, including the purpose, intended outcomes, possible demonstration of the strategy and examples. Discussion regarding how others can apply the strategies in their own teaching contexts should be addressed.

Nifty Assessments: these sessions focus on the sharing of a ‘nifty assessment’, giving details of the development and administration of the assessment, intended student outcomes, strengths and challenges of the assessment, and discussion regarding how the assessment might be used in other disciplinary contexts or delivery modes.

Online Tools and Effective Practices: these sessions will focus on online platforms and applications, tools, software and/or practices used to design and/or deliver online content and engage students. If possible, the video should demonstrate the tool or describe an example of when/how/why it was used.

Live Roundtables – “Symposium You” (1 per session)

  • 45-minute synchronous session

These sessions give further opportunity for reflection on issues or innovations in the disciplines, with a focus on facing challenges and problem solving. These sessions should be considered dialogical, promoting discussion of possible creative responses drawn from participants’ personal experiences and wider sources. There are two options:

  1. Applicants will be asked to prepare a conversation topic on teaching innovations and challenges – discussions can be based around reflections on personal innovations and practice, teaching dilemmas or challenges, or bringing forward an idea for the group to consider. The facilitator(s)/applicant(s) will open with a 5-minute presentation that frames the topic before opening the floor; they can share slides or documents as appropriate.
  2. A moderated panel led by the applicant. In this instance, the applicant will invite the panelists and will moderate/facilitate the session.

* Examples of videos and how-to information will be made available to presenters needing to prepare videos.


Teaching and Learning Symposium Submission Forms

Deadline for submission: February 22, 2021

Notification of acceptance will be sent out late-March.