By Stefanie Phillips, RSJ ’18
Veteran journalism professor and former associate chair Ann Rauhala has been named the 2017-18 Teaching Chair for the Faculty of Communication and Design (FCAD) at Ryerson University.
In her new position, Rauhala hopes to bring together students and professors from all nine of the faculty’s schools to encourage collaborative learning, which she says will help professors teach students with empathy.
The role is designed to ensure that faculty, instructors and – by extension – students, are using the best approaches possible in the classroom. The teaching chair convenes meetings with representatives from each FCAD school to identify priorities and then implements them with a goal to create a creative, empathetic and inspiring teaching environment.
“Professors getting together and sharing what works for them is really useful,” she said. “Empathy in creativity can very much improve the experience for the professor and the student.”
Rauhala has participated in small, informal get-togethers with professors to discuss challenging issues they face. Each time, she says, she has walked away with a new, useful approach.
Rauhala started her teaching career in 1998 as a Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) sessional instructor at the Ryerson School of Journalism, while working part-time at the CBC.
Since then, she has held a myriad of positions at the RSJ. She has been co-chair of the curriculum committee; has spearheaded an overhaul of the journalism curriculum to include online journalism techniques; and coordinated fourth-year student internships.
Throughout her 19-year teaching career, she has been inspired by “smart and eager” students to make journalism better.
In her new role, Rauhala is interested in making students part of the conversation when it comes to developing better teaching practices. And she wants to do it in a way that is both informal and respectful.
“I have been struck by how brutal an approach [the website, Rate My Professor] is,” she said. “We can find ways of taking student feedback on particular issues where everybody’s privacy and everybody’s dignity is protected. I haven’t really figured out how to do that yet, but it seems like a very worthwhile goal.”
Above all else, Rauhala says she’s excited to meet with individuals from the nine schools and work with them to rectify any issues they face.
When she isn’t thinking about great teaching techniques, she can be found either travelling or reading. This summer she visited Indonesia and discovered, as she says, that it’s better to fly than drive in Asia. She is currently balancing her evening reading between a book for her fiction book club and the pile of New York Times Magazines on her night table.