Spotlight on Learners – Tell Me About Yourself!

By Sama Bassidj

Hi Everyone!

My name is Sama Bassidj and I teach in the Social Service Worker program at Centennial College. (Sama refers to the Sufi dance of the whirling dervishes, an active meditation practice).

As a settler on Turtle Island and a refugee to the land we call Canada, I bring my own lived experiences to the classroom, along with a passion for authentic, creative, and holistic teaching. I believe teaching should be collaborative (everyone teaches; everyone learns), participatory, connected, reflexive, and inclusive of all – values deeply connected to my social work practice as well. My teaching philosophy begins with respect, humility, curiosity, and honesty, and values all forms of knowledge from all avenues of life.

In an effort to make teaching and learning at a distance more personal and personable, I invite learners to complete a brief online survey (created using Google Forms) entitled “Spotlight on Learners –Tell Me About Yourself!” at the beginning of the semester. This survey is kept confidential between each student and myself.

I ask learners questions related to their learning preferences, experiences in the social services field, and how I can best support them in our course. Questions may include:

  • The most important thing that I want my professor to know about me is…
  • The most challenging part of my first year in the SSW program was…
  • What preparations did it take for you to be attending college this semester?
  • What I need to feel supported in this class is…
  • After graduation, I would like to be doing…

I try to end on a lighter note, such as “If my song was playing, it would be…”. I use student entries to create a course playlist that I begin/end each online synchronous class with.

I have so far had tremendous engagement with student responses, and learners have used this opportunity to share their lived experiences, hopes, and fears. This small-but-mighty survey acknowledges the humanity behind each online screen. It also helps me to approach each class with a better appreciation and understanding of the unique stories, stressors, and strengths present in our online classroom.

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