Transforming Teaching 101

Both teaching and learning are ongoing, with our strategies constantly evolving to adapt to changing contexts, interesting, research, and global events. While "transforming teaching" might suggest a complete overhaul, we recommend fostering a gradual approach to change, one that emphasizes frequency self-reflection, use of evidence-based practices, incorporation of institutional and personal values and priorities, and a flexible and improvisatory approach as best as you're able.

Our nine Guides offer in-depth information and advice to help you transform your teaching over time. Four guiding principles undergird all the information in the Transforming Teaching Toolkit:

  • a commitment to institutional priorities around inclusivity, equity, and diversity; decolonization and Indigenization; active learning; aligned assessment; and experiential learning
  • an emphasis on evidence-based pedagogical strategies that will serve instructors throughout their teaching careers
  • placement of learners at the heart of the educational experience
  • encouragement for instructors to play to their teaching strengths while expanding their repertoire of teaching tools and strategies

We have two resources to guide you through the process of transforming your teaching.

This video shares student perspectives on remote teaching from the 2020-21 academic year, but the comments are easily generalizable to any teaching context.

We also encourage you to adopt and adapt practices of improvisational theatre for teaching and learning. In improv theatre, actors typically work in groups to create theatrical works on the spot without a script. Obviously in such an environment, collaboration and teamwork is critical. Drawing on this, Rossing and Hoffman-Longtin (2015) summarize four key characteristics of improv that can serve collaborators well even outside the theatre world: “1) accept all offers, 2) recognize gifts, 3) build on every idea, and 4) support fellow players.” (p.7-8) These actions and attitudes are contained in the notion of saying “yes, and” when presented with an idea or challenge.

In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, for instance, instructors were presented with a rapid shift to remote learning. An instructor unwilling to adopt a “yes, and” improv mindset might have said “No way. I’m just going to cancel the rest of my classes.” But someone using a “yes, and” approach might have gone through the following thought process:

OK, the last two weeks of this course are now mandated to be remote-delivery. Yes, and I’m going to redesign my final exam to be a take-home exam so I don’t have to worry about online proctoring. Yes, and I’m going to give options for students to do a written, video, or podcast exam so that they can demonstrate their learning in a manner that works best for them during this stressful time. Yes, and I’m going to ask one of my colleagues who’s an onQ course management expert to walk me through how to use the assignment dropbox.

Of course, this thought process doesn’t happen in a bubble—one of the critical pieces of improv theatre is that it is most often done collaboratively. “Yes, and” also involves bouncing ideas off others, learning from their wisdom, and sharing wisdom of your own.


Rossing, Jonathan P. and Krista Hoffman-Longtin. 2015. “Improv(ing) the Academy: Applied Improvisation as a Strategy for Educational Development.” To Improve the Academy 35(2): 303-325.


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The Transforming Teaching Toolkit by the Centre for Teaching & Learning, Queen’s University is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License