Inspiring Minds

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Inspiring Minds Conference

The Inspiring Minds Speaker Series is a virtual professional development experience for all - college leaders, student service professionals, and all faculty. The aim of this year's series specifically is to:

  • Foster a culture of wellbeing and success among students, faculty, and staff in higher education.
  • Help educators make sound pedagogical choices that lead to transformative learning experiences for their context and the many types of students they find in their classrooms.
  • Encourage the mindsets, strategies, and habits that build learning readiness and agency throughout student's (and even teachers) academic careers.

Topics of Discussion


Why Attend?

  • Renowned Speakers: Join us as we bring some of the brightest minds in academia to share their insights and experiences.
  • Networking Opportunities: Connect with like-minded professionals, expand your network, and forge meaningful collaborations.
  • Cutting-Edge Topics: Our speakers will delve into the latest trends, innovations, and strategies that are reshaping higher education

2024 Helping to Build Student Agency

2024 Inspiring Minds Speakers


Monday February 26th 3:00pm - 4:00pm

I am James Anderson, an Australian-based international speaker, author, and educator deeply committed to enhancing our capacity for effective learning. Central to my philosophy is the Mindset Continuum, an extension of Carol Dweck's ground-breaking work on Growth Mindsets, providing practical tools to cultivate a profound understanding of ourselves as learners. My notable concept of Learnership, raising the status of learning from an act to an art, offers a powerful framework to comprehend and enhance our engagement in the learning process, ultimately helping schools to create the paradigm shift that is needed. I challenge educators to critically reflect on their own Mindsets and how these beliefs are subtly communicated to students, offering tangible strategies beyond clichés to instigate genuine shifts in learners' mindsets.

Register today: Inspiring Minds | James Anderson - Learnership


After decades of focusing on the skill of teaching, it's time to focus on the skill of learning.

We have skillful teachers in our schools. They know how to employ the most effective teaching strategies. We recognise, celebrate and value masterful teaching. Now it's time to raise the status of learning from an act to an art, and ensure students are engaging in the most effective learning strategies. To celebrate and value masterful learning. To ensure students go beyond merely achieving outcomes and become skilful, effective learners.

In this session James shares his signature work on Learnership. For the first time he defines what it means to be a skilful learner. He shows you how to create a culture for learning and growth in your classroom. A culture that shares the responsibility for learning between the teacher and the students. A culture where every learner achieves more.

By developing Learnership, you create learners who embrace challenges, cultivate powerful Habits of Mind, leverage the information in mistakes, tailor feedback and consistently invest their effort in growth.

What will you learn?

  • The six levels of leadership
  • Proven strategies that teach students to become more effective learners
  • How to create a classroom culture that drives growth

What can I expect if I participate?

  • Solutions to address reluctant, passive and underachieving learners
  • Strategies to develop students who have a positive relationship with challenge
  • Effective strategies for building a shared language of learning
  • A deep understanding of the skill of learning and how to develop it
  • A classroom where your skill as a teacher is matched by your students skill as a learners

Detecting and Dismantling Transition Traps

Wednesday Feb 28th 12:00pm - 1:30pm

Watch: Detecting and Dismantling Transition Traps

Leonard Geddes is the founder of The LearnWell Projects, an academic success organization devoted to making learning more visible, manageable, and effective. He is also the author of the recently published book "How to Successfully Transition Students into College: From Traps to Triumph". A highly regarded higher education consultant and strategist with 20+ years’ experience, he is also the former Associate Dean of Students and Director of the Learning Commons at Lenoir-Rhyne University, USA.

Register today: Inspiring Minds | Leonard Geddes - Detecting and Dismantling Transition Traps

Detecting and Dismantling Transition Traps

This session exposes the hidden transition traps that undermine students' academic work, strain teacher-student relationships, and impose artificial limits on their potential. Participants will learn how to use new research-based formulas for academic success, effective tools that strengthen teaching and learning, and gain new perspectives on how to create an educational environment conducive to success.

Building Assessments with UDL and Liberation

Friday March 1st 10:00am - 11:30am

Watch: Power and Honour

Andratesha Fritzgerald is the author of Antiracism and Universal Design for Learning: Building Expressways to Success (CAST, 2020), and co-founder of Building Blocks of Brilliance Educational Consulting Firm. She has served in education as a teacher, curriculum specialist, administrator, and director. As an international speaker, presenter, and facilitator, Fritzgerald exhibits an audacious perseverance that calls organizations to evolve into inclusive antiracist safe zones for all learners. Tesha holds an Ed.S. in administration and a Master's Degree in Urban Secondary Teaching, with an emphasis on language arts instruction both from Cleveland State University. She has been a presenter at the CAST International Symposium on Universal Design for Learning, Harvard Graduate School of Education, the Ireland National College and many other organizations and districts. Connect with her at and @FritzTesha on social media.

Register today: Inspiring Minds | Andratesha Fritzgerald - Assessments with UDL and Liberation

Building Assessments with UDL and Liberation

Universal Design for Learning is characterized by voice and choice. This theory also is integral to the practices associated with assessment and grading. To begin shifting practices, participants in this session will:

  • Identify common roadblocks to equitable outcomes in assessment
  • Practice unpacking the guidelines to build grading practices
  • Review assessment strategies through the UDL Lens
  • Begin building universally designed assessments to gain insight into how to implement UDL from instruction, to support, to assessment and feedback

Teacher Centred Learning - and other things i'm not supposed to talk about

Wednesday March 6th 12:00pm - 1:30pm

Watch: Teacher Centred Learning

Professor of Psychology, Lindsay teaches courses in statistics, educational psychology, and pedagogy. She has served as consulting editor for two journals that focus on teaching in higher ed, and she's very involved in Division 2 of the American Psychology Association (Society for the Teaching of Psychology), including serving as the Director of their Annual Conference on Teaching. Additionally, Lindsay has won both national and university-wide teaching awards. Lindsay's teaching and research interests lie at the intersection of student engagement, effective teaching practices, and inclusive excellence, and her passion is to help educators make sound pedagogical choices that lead to transformative educational experiences for the many types of students they find in their classrooms. She's also very interested in the positionality of teachers in higher education, including the societal and systemic pressures that conspire to devalue the role of teaching and learning in academia. In short, she's an enthusiast for equitable, transformative, and liberatory experiences for all who endeavour to teach and learn in higher ed.

Register today: Inspiring Minds | Lindsay Masland - In Defense of Teacher-Centered Teaching… and Other Things I'm Not supposed to Say

Teacher Centred Learning - and other things I'm not supposed to talk about

Over the past few years, college instructors have been surprised, confused, and occasionally outraged by the students who show up in our classrooms. Lamentations over missing skills, low attendance rates, and disappointing work quality are centerstage in many pedagogical discussions. Not surprisingly, the recommended antidote is to double down on our use of student-centered teaching. In our quest to be student-centered, though, we can end up making choices that can overwhelm us with their unsustainability. In this talk, we'll explore how centring our own needs in pedagogical decision-making provides fertile ground for sustainable, effective teaching that benefits both our students and ourselves. In Defense of Teacher-Centered Teaching … and Other Things I’m Not Supposed to Say

Not Everything: How to Know What to Do First

Tuesday March 12th 12:00pm - 1:30pm

Watch: How to do what to do first

Deena Kara Shaffer, PhD is the best-selling author of "Feel Good Learning", adjunct faculty (Toronto Metropolitan University), senior education administrator (York University), and founder and CEO of Awakened Learning, offering learning strategy coaching to students, parents, and professionals, Deena is devoted to making less suffering, and (much!) more ease, access, justice, and joy in all things learning and teaching. IG @awakenedlearning

Register today: Inspiring Minds | Deena Kara Shaffer - Not Everything: How To Know What To Do First

Not Everything: How to Know What to Do First

In this fun, uplifting, messy talk, Dr. Deena Kara Shaffer will journey with participants through the troubles with to-do lists, the problem(s) with "priorities", and goal-setting gaps. We'll reconnect, we'll laugh, and we'll look closely at the pressures we're all under, urgency most of all. In this time of togetherness—as educators, as parents, as lifelong learners ourselves—Deena will share some wonderings, and some workarounds, as to what to do when, and how we can know.

Exclusive Giveaways

Attendees who register early and attend sessions have a chance to win exciting prizes.

2022 Student Agency and Success

IM 2022 was designed as a virtual build-your-own conference where colleagues shared their unique strategies to build student agency throughout the pandemic. In a diverse teaching and learning community, there are many interpretations and experiences of student agency. It may not even be a concept translatable in different languages or circumstances.

The concept of Student Agency is based on the idea that students:

  • can play a more active role in their education, becoming co-creators in the teaching and learning process;
  • have the ability and the will to positively influence their own lives and the world around them.

Three fantastic Keynote Speakers presented the following topics:

Dr. Deena Kara Shafer, Coordinator of Student Transition and Retention at Ryerson University and the President of the Learning Specialist Association of Canada presented on The Agentic Body.

Leonard Geddes, Former Director, Lenoir-Rhyne University's Lohr Learning Commons, Founder, The LearnWell Projects presented Doing Better Academic Work Together.

Dr. Joe Kim, Associate Professor in Psychology, Neuroscience & Behaviour at McMaster University and is actively involved in the science of teaching and learning presented The Psychology of Focusing on What Really Matters.

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2021 What is Student Success?

As the Mohawk College community moved from Recovery to Innovation, we hosted an Inspiring Minds conference to focus on Student Success. The objective was to renew the collective, college-wide and personal commitment to promote and enhance student success throughout the student lifecycle. Together, as a college-wide community, we:

  • engaged in conversations about student success, what it is, and how it relates to our roles moving forward from recovery to innovation;
  • shared what we've learned about supporting students and student success during challenging times including evidence-based resources, tools, and strategies;
  • fostered collaboration to promote student success;
  • renewed our collective and personal commitment to promote student success from the time students enrol and through their educational journey.

The keynote presentation by Fabiola Torres, discussed Humanizing as a student-centered mindset that involves recognizing and supporting non-cognitive components of learning. Humanizing educators intentionally cultivate an inclusive learning environment that fosters psychological safety, trust, and connections that grow into relationships and community. The other side of the humanizing coin is a warm educator presence that imparts empathy and awareness while promoting engagement and rigor. Without humanizing, the online environment can be a lonely and sometimes overwhelming place, as we've all experienced through the pandemic. College (online or in person) can be a daunting experience even in the best of times, especially for minoritized students. This session explored strategies used in Humanizing Online Education and reflected on ways to weave these elements into our own practice as educators at Mohawk College.

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