Patty Wellborn

Email: patty-wellborn@news.ok.ubc.ca


 

UBCO professor offers advice to create a flourishing workplace remotely

Many Canadians have been working from home in an effort to help flatten the curve and limit the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Some people have been thriving in their new remote work environment, but there are those who have been experiencing challenges.

As BC begins to cautiously re-open and lift restrictions, many organizations are exploring the potential of employees remaining to work from home on a part-time or even permanent basis.

“Working remotely has greatly changed the workplace dynamic,” says Sabre Cherkowski, Okanagan School of Education director of graduate programs and UBC Okanagan’s Social Sciences and Humanities Researcher of the Year. “Many people have experienced a sense of disconnection and disengagement, but there are still ways we can have a sense of flourishing in this new workspace.”

What does a flourishing work environment look like?

While flourishing may look different to staff members—depending on what makes them feel most valued and connected to their work—we all have the opportunity to contribute to building flourishing environments. Research shows there are three areas we need to keep in check: well-being, leaderful mindsets and adaptive community.

The first considers everyone’s personal well-being. This includes positive emotions, positive relationships and a sense of making a difference.

The second is the creation of an environment where staff are encouraged to communicate openly with colleagues, be creative and respond to conflicts as an opportunity to learn and adapt together.

The third is paying attention to how staff can identify ways that their work contributes to the larger, shared goals of the organization, which provides a greater sense of ownership, engagement and shared leadership.

How can people learn to flourish in a remote workplace?

Flourishing at work is something we move towards and we can learn to notice and build on what works. It is moments of contentment or feeling pleased and proud of our accomplishments, and is deeply tied to relationships at work. Each member of the team will experience ‘flourishing’ in their own ways and that is unique to their circumstances.

As a leader, you have the opportunity to model what it means to grow well-being, moment by moment, and can encourage staff to ask for support as they notice shifts in well-being that may occur as our work continues to shift and change. Learning how to notice and nurture what makes us well, and learning to let go in order to sustain, can become an important, enjoyable and even a playful part of our work routines.

What are some practices you can do to enhance your workplace well-being while working from home?

Take opportunities each day to make space and time for what matters to you in your work. There are likely tasks that you dread doing and others that you love. Try making a schedule of your week and ensure you make time for what you love. As the week goes on, pay attention during these moments and savour them. Reflect on them later during the week and remember what you enjoyed in that work time.

Be similarly purposeful in looking for ways to engage your strengths in your work. Talk to your supervisor if there is a project that you would like to work on, or if you have an idea for something that might fulfil a need in the organization.

Find ways to enjoy time with your colleagues, laugh, relax and share ups and downs. Try to schedule a regular virtual happy hour after work or a casual lunch-time phone chat.

Reflect on what is working well for you. As you pay attention to these moments and experiences, you may find that more and more of them are cropping up in your reflections. You may want to try journaling to keep track of how your thoughts, feelings and experiences are evolving over time.

What are some ways we can engage with our colleagues in this new environment?

Find time to connect and be present with colleagues online. Acknowledge their accomplishments and celebrate successes, even small ones.

One easy activity you can do with your team through a virtual meeting platform, is to ask each of them to write down moments when they and their colleagues are engaged and having fun at work, and things that they’re often grateful for at the end of each workday

Allow some time for reflection and then have everyone share their observations, reflect on the conditions that seemed to make these experiences possible, and discuss how the team might support each other toward experiencing more of these moments in your work together.

During these times, it may feel as though the ground you’re standing on is slipping away. I always encourage people to try to see this as an opportunity for new learning, connection and renewal.

About UBC's Okanagan campus

UBC’s Okanagan campus is an innovative hub for research and learning founded in 2005 in partnership with local Indigenous peoples, the Syilx Okanagan Nation, in whose territory the campus resides. As part of UBC—ranked among the world’s top 20 public universities—the Okanagan campus combines a globally recognized UBC education with a tight-knit and entrepreneurial community that welcomes students and faculty from around the world in British Columbia’s stunning Okanagan Valley.

To find out more, visit: ok.ubc.ca

Rick Mercer will deliver the 2020 keynote address. Mercer was a 2010 UBC honorary degree recipient.

Rick Mercer will deliver the 2020 keynote address. Mercer was a 2010 UBC honorary degree recipient.

Virtual ceremony takes place Wednesday as more than 1,900 students graduate

UBC Okanagan’s Convocation of 2020 will go down in history as a unique event. Instead of students, parents and faculty joining together on campus, the celebrations will be held virtually.

“The context of 2020 has made necessary a very different approach to our graduation ceremony this year,” says Deborah Buszard, Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Principal of UBC’s Okanagan campus. “While the ceremony will be virtual, the remarkable achievements of our students are very real and worthy of recognition. I invite everyone to join me in celebrating the Class of 2020.”

This year, 1,925 students have qualified for convocation from UBC Okanagan—that includes 1,600 undergraduates, more than 270 students who have earned a master’s degree and 45 newly-conferred doctorate degrees.

While convocation is a time of celebration, it’s also a time of long-kept traditions. The program will begin with Chancellor Lindsay Gordon presiding over the virtual ceremony. UBC President and Vice-Chancellor Santa J. Ono and Buszard will both address the Class of 2020 live, dressed in full academic regalia. And graduates will have an opportunity to take a virtual selfie with President Ono.

UBC has arranged for Canadian icon and comedian Rick Mercer to deliver the 2020 keynote address. Mercer was a 2010 UBC honorary degree recipient.

Students have had the opportunity to purchase graduation regalia, special graduation gifts, create a personalized commemorative graduation video clip, download congratulatory signs and sign a guest book with congratulatory messages.

The virtual ceremony will last 45 minutes and it will be livestreamed on June 17, with a pre-show beginning at 2:30 p.m. The ceremony begins at 3 p.m. and a 20-minute virtual alumni reception takes place at 3:55 p.m. The ceremony can also be watched on YouTube, Facebook or Panopto, a platform that is accessible from many countries. To find out more, visit: virtualgraduation.ok.ubc.ca

“These are, indeed, unusual times, and UBC students have shown once again their resilience and ability to cope and thrive in the face of change,” says Buszard. “With everything they have accomplished over these past months and over the course of their studies, I couldn’t be more proud of the extraordinary UBC Okanagan Class of 2020. Congratulations.”

This year’s medal recipients

  • Governor General's Gold Medal: Mike Tymko
  • Lieutenant Governor's Medal Program for Inclusion, Democracy and Reconciliation: Dominica Patterson
  • UBC Medal in Fine Arts: Aiden de Vin
  • UBC Medal in Arts: Ellie Jane Fedec
  • UBC Medal in Science: Nicholas Kayban
  • UBC Medal in Education: Alyssa Pembleton
  • UBC Medal in Nursing: Christopher Popel
  • UBC Medal in Management: Amanda Campbell
  • UBC Medal in Human Kinetics: Madison Pows
  • UBC Medal in Engineering: Tyler Ho

About UBC's Okanagan campus

UBC’s Okanagan campus is an innovative hub for research and learning founded in 2005 in partnership with local Indigenous peoples, the Syilx Okanagan Nation, in whose territory the campus resides. As part of UBC—ranked among the world’s top 20 public universities—the Okanagan campus combines a globally recognized UBC education with a tight-knit and entrepreneurial community that welcomes students and faculty from around the world in British Columbia’s stunning Okanagan Valley.

To find out more, visit: ok.ubc.ca

UBCO School of Education experts provide tips to help parents cope and children thrive.

UBCO School of Education experts provide tips to help parents cope and children thrive.

Experts offer guidelines to support children’s learning during school closures

With schools closed indefinitely across BC, parents and children are adapting to a new way of learning. While there are plenty of online resources available, including those provided by school districts and the province, experts with UBC Okanagan’s School of Education offer basic tips for parents and caregivers.

Listen for wonderings, says Margaret Macintyre Latta, director of the Okanagan School of Education

“As you’re completing day-to-day tasks with your child such as cooking or cleaning, or even just enjoying time together by walking or examining the night sky, listen for their wonderings. These wonderings can offer many lines of inquiry that you can further by offering your own wonderings.

Seek resources together, investigate ways to learn more and find new questions. When learning comes from the child’s own questions, then learning does not feel forced and can find direction on its own. And, the connections bring science, math, art and more together. Rather than thinking about learning as separate from living, consider that human beings are fundamentally meaning-makers—learning is elemental to being human.”

Stay active, says Stephen Berg, associate professor

“Right now, technology has really taken over everyone’s lives and justifiably so. Children and youth are now tasked with being online for hours. This sedentary time needs to be balanced out with physical activity. When time allows, move away from a screen. Stretch, do some calisthenics and go outside. Go for a walk, run or bike ride. Just make sure you abide by physical distancing and obey all park and playground closures where applicable.”

Work with the situation you’re in—and not against it, says Christopher Martin, associate professor

“I have two children at home ages five and eight, and I’ve had to learn to manage my stress about them ‘covering’ enough material and not ‘falling behind.’ These are totally understandable feelings, but they misunderstand a little about what education involves and how it works.

I try to take a step back and look at the bigger picture of my children’s educational journey. What is the key educational goal I want them to achieve, and what can I do as a parent to bring that about?

For example, one key aim could be critical thinking. All the worksheets in the world will not help my children learn to critically think; but something as simple as talking about what they are interested in, and getting them to think about different points of view can encourage critical thinking.

Children are very observant, and what they see in us will be a more powerful teacher than any YouTube video. You do not need to develop an entire educational program. Reading to your children—and enjoying the time you have to read to them—can make a huge difference.”

Learning happens in spaces and places between us, says Sabre Cherkowski, director of graduate programs

“There are the physical spaces where students and teachers gather, and there are also the emotional spaces between us—our relationships. These spaces can provide a sense of acceptance, belonging and an opportunity to see how our contributions matter and make a difference. Parents and guardians can think of these three things each time they set up learning for, and with, their children.”

Children respond to structure and routine and they can find that comforting, especially when the day is mapped out for them, says John-Tyler Binfet, Associate Professor

“As parents and guardians work to establish structure and routine, they must recognize children might initially require ample support that sees them actively implicated in the learning process. As children navigate their way and become familiar with expectations, they will develop a sense of independence and parents and guardians can then step back their support, pending the needs of the child.

‘Chunking’ or breaking tasks into small manageable pieces is useful for enticing reluctant learners and ‘co-learning’ alongside reluctant learners can help to engage children in learning tasks.

Parents and guardians can find comfort in knowing that they don’t need to have all the answers when it comes to supporting their children in online learning. As they tackle assignments, help activate learning by asking questions that predict—what’s likely to happen next? — connect—how is this similar to what you’ve studied before? — or extend—what could someone do with this information?”

Beyond all else, Binfet and his School of Education colleagues, remind all parents and caregivers to add an extra ounce of kindness into their days while they are at home with their children

“These are trying times for some,” says Binfet. “But my research has shown that kindness can go a long way during your day-to-day activities. We feel better when we’re kind to others and we make others feel better too.”

About UBC's Okanagan campus

UBC’s Okanagan campus is an innovative hub for research and learning founded in 2005 in partnership with local Indigenous peoples, the Syilx Okanagan Nation, in whose territory the campus resides. As part of UBC—ranked among the world’s top 20 public universities—the Okanagan campus combines a globally recognized UBC education with a tight-knit and entrepreneurial community that welcomes students and faculty from around the world in British Columbia’s stunning Okanagan Valley.

To find out more, visit: ok.ubc.ca

Golden retriever Abby listens while Annie Letheman (right) reads to her sister Ruby and researcher Camille Rousseau (middle) observes.

Golden retriever Abby listens while Annie Letheman (right) reads to her sister Ruby and researcher Camille Rousseau (middle) observes.

Turning the page for Spot boosts literacy in young students

Reading in the presence of a pooch may be the page-turning motivation young children need, suggests a UBC researcher.

Camille Rousseau, a doctoral student in UBC Okanagan’s School of Education, recently completed a study examining the behaviour of 17 children from Grades 1 to 3, while reading with and without a dog. The study was conducted with Christine Tardif-Williams, a professor at Brock University’s department of child and youth studies.

“Our study focused on whether a child would be motivated to continue reading longer and persevere through moderately challenging passages when they are accompanied by a dog,” explains Rousseau.

Participants were recruited based on their ability to read independently. Prior to the study, each child was tested to determine their reading range and to ensure they would be assigned appropriate story excerpts. The researchers then choose stories slightly beyond the child’s reading level.

During the study’s sessions, participants would read aloud to either an observer, the dog handler and their pet or without the dog. After finishing their first page, they would be offered the option of a second reading task or finishing the session.

“The findings showed that children spent significantly more time reading and showed more persistence when a dog—regardless of breed or age—was in the room as opposed to when they read without them,” says Rousseau. “In addition, the children reported feeling more interested and more competent.”

With the recent rise in popularity of therapy dog reading programs in schools, libraries and community organizations, Rousseau says their research could help to develop ‘gold-standard’ canine-assisted intervention strategies for struggling young readers.

“There have been studies that looked at the impact of therapy dogs on enhancing students’ reading abilities, but this was the first study that carefully selected and assigned challenging reading to children,” she says.

Some studies and programs have children choose their own book, and while the reading experience would still be positive, Rousseau adds it’s the educational experience of persevering through a moderate challenge that offers a potentially greater sense of achievement.

She hopes the study increases organizations’ understanding of how children’s reading could be enhanced by furry friends.

Rousseau is continuing her research on how canine-assisted therapy can influence students in other educational contexts through UBC’s therapy dog program—Building Academic Retention through K9’s (BARK).

The study was published in Anthrozoös, a multidisciplinary journal focusing on the interactions of people and animals.

About UBC's Okanagan campus

UBC’s Okanagan campus is an innovative hub for research and learning in the heart of British Columbia’s stunning Okanagan Valley. Ranked among the top 20 public universities in the world, UBC is home to bold thinking and discoveries that make a difference. Established in 2005, the Okanagan campus combines a globally recognized UBC education with a tight-knit and entrepreneurial community that welcomes students and faculty from around the world.

To find out more, visit: ok.ubc.ca

New graduates celebrate their success after their convocation ceremony at UBCO last June.

New graduates celebrate their success after their convocation ceremony at UBCO last June.

Students presented degrees, top awards during two days of ceremonies

It’s the culmination of years of hard work, and the realization of hundreds of dreams.

This week UBC Okanagan celebrates its students as it hosts six separate graduation ceremonies over two days. More than 1,725 students will cross the stage, earning their undergraduate degrees while 215 students will receive their master's degree and 40 their doctorates.

“This year’s UBC Okanagan graduating class goes out into a world where sweeping changes are happening,” says Deborah Buszard, Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Principal. “From geopolitics and the environment to the nature of work itself, rapid and radical change is all around us. As UBC graduates, we know our students have the intellectual tools to thrive in the face of change.”

The formal procedures begin Thursday morning with students in the Irving K. Barber School of Arts And Sciences crossing the stage in three different convocation ceremonies. Students in the Faculty of Creative and Critical Studies will also cross the stage that day.

On Friday, celebrations kick-off early as Faculty of Health and Social Development students celebrate their achievements starting at 8:30 a.m. School of Education, Faculty of Management and School of Engineering students will be conferred their degrees in two following ceremonies.

“Congratulations to the class of 2019 for all they have accomplished,” Buszard adds. “I have every confidence their education and experiences at UBC Okanagan have positioned them for the brightest future.”

While student accomplishment is the heart of convocation, innovation, excellence and making a difference in this world are themes to be recognized. UBCO will present three honorary degrees this week.

Lewis Kay will receive a Doctor of Science at the 11 a.m. ceremony on June 6. Kay is a biophysicist known for his research in biochemistry and nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy. He is a professor of molecular genetics, biochemistry and chemistry at the University of Toronto and a senior scientist in the molecular medicine research program at Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children.

Later that day, Dr. William Carpentier will be honoured with a Doctor of Science. Carpentier is an alumnus of the UBC Faculty of Medicine and was flight surgeon for NASA’s Apollo 11 crew. He is renowned for his contributions to the field of space life science. Carpentier will be honoured at the 1:30 p.m. ceremony on Thursday.

Friday morning, Olympic gold medalist Beckie Scott will be presented with a Doctor of Laws at the 8:30 a.m. ceremony. Scott was an 11-year member of Canada’s national cross-country ski team, retiring in 2006 as Canada’s most decorated cross-country skiing athlete. The three-time Olympian is widely recognized for advocacy for drug-free sport. She currently serves as chair of the World Anti-Doping Agency Athlete Committee.

Other accolades of note during convocation include the Provost Award for Teaching Excellence that will be presented to Biology Professor Andis Klegeris and Sally Willis-Stewart, a nutrition and physical activity instructor. The Killam Teaching Prize will be presented to Engineering Professor Jonathan Holzman.

The heads of class (top academic student) for this year include:

  • Governor General's Gold Medal: Ryan Hoiland
  • Lieutenant Governor’s Medal: Gabriel Dix
  • University of BC Medal in Arts: Victoria Scotney
  • University of BC Medal in Education: Tyler Tronnes
  • University of BC Medal in Engineering: Ethan McKoen
  • University of BC Medal in Fine Arts: Evan Berg
  • University of BC Medal in Human Kinetics: Janelle Smuin
  • University of BC Medal in Management: Zachary Bingley
  • University of BC Medal in Nursing: Elyse Acheson
  • University of BC Medal in Science: Alexander Garner

About UBC's Okanagan campus

UBC’s Okanagan campus is an innovative hub for research and learning in the heart of British Columbia’s stunning Okanagan Valley. Ranked among the top 20 public universities in the world, UBC is home to bold thinking and discoveries that make a difference. Established in 2005, the Okanagan campus combines a globally recognized UBC education with a tight-knit and entrepreneurial community that welcomes students and faculty from around the world.

To find out more, visit: ok.ubc.ca.