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Communication Sciences and Disorders says thanks with instructor profiles

The education of highly-qualified researchers in the Communication Sciences and professionals in Speech-Language Pathology requires a student-centred learning environment with small class sizes and personalized mentoring. Maintaining this level of standard in our curriculum has required bold, nimble and innovative work from our instructors. You adapted quickly to meet these challenges head-on, and you did so with grace, professionalism and a great deal of care for our learners. This World Teachers’ Day, I sincerely want to say thank you to faculty members in our School. I’m very proud to work alongside you.

We present reflections from faculty members on the challenges of the past year alongside expressions of gratitude for their work from members of the school community. These reflections will feature our full-time faculty members but I also sincerely thank Andreea Mandache (Student Affairs Administrator) and Antoinette Sommers (Student Affairs Coordinator) who are integral to the quality of education we provide and the support our students receive.

Noémie Auclair Ouellet

My approach to remote teaching has been to make the most of what technology has to offer and to find ways to connect virtually. Creating meaningful learning activities that allow students to work in small groups and apply the knowledge and skills they learn in the course has been my number one priority. Because we are all constantly adapting to this new situation, it is important to keep communication channels open, to collaborate, and to remain flexible in the face of uncertainty.

Dr. Ouellet is one of the most kind, intelligent and patient professors that I have had the opportunity to be able to learn from. Although I was new to her lab, she always welcomed my questions and took the time to make sure that I understood what was being asked of me. I truly believe that one of her greatest qualities is her humble nature; a quality that I am extremely grateful for and admire as a student. Despite all the work that needed to be done, she always checked in to make sure that I never felt overwhelmed. There is no doubt that teaching and managing everything during these difficult times has been challenging, but Dr. Ouellet has truly done an incredible job of doing so.

Mariska Burger

I feel there are two words that keep coming back when I think about my teaching: “Adaptation” and “Flexibility”. Having to switch to online teaching so rapidly last spring, both in the classroom and in the clinic was nerve racking to say the least. But somehow I felt like the students and I became a team, we were in it together, we were all learners but we kept the same goals in mind, the wellbeing of our clients and of course working towards that S-LP degree.

Mariska has been adaptable and accommodating amidst the new challenges we've been facing this year. She has been presenting material for her Augmentative and Alternative Communication course through a combination of asynchronous and synchronous lectures, allowing for both active class participation and flexible scheduling. She has also been very receptive to student feedback and concerns, which is a necessity in this dynamic climate, as we encounter unforeseen difficulties.

Meghan Clayards

Supervising research students remotely through a pandemic has required some adjustments, but in a way, I think the most important thing has been trying to keep things the same. It's clear that students face many serious challenges including losing the usual structures and rhythms to organize their lives. So I've tried to keep regular and frequent meetings as a kind of structure and support. It's also helped me to have this structure and connection to students and colleagues through supervisory meetings.

Meghan has continued to be very supportive and helpful over these past few months. This is particularly impressive considering that she recently moved back across the country and has been looking after her two kids at home. I admire her ability to balance things while remaining productive.

Laura Gonnerman

Teaching during the COVID-19 pandemic been an exciting challenge to capitalize on my strength of coming up with innovative solutions in a fast paced and ever changing environment. It has also allowed me to reflect and refocus my teaching on relationship building and empowering students’ autonomous decision making. I am humbled by the resilience, compassion, and kindness of the SCSD student body at large.

Laura, as the learning champion in SCSD, has spearheaded a lot of initiatives to make the learning environment more approachable and accessible to learners in the School. For example, she has set up teaching roundtables to support junior and senior faculty members in classroom teaching. She patiently listens to learners' learning challenges and reaches out various units on campus for solutions.

Nicole Li-Jessen

One common teaching challenge is how to enhance a purposeful and rewarding learning experience for students while still giving them room to self-reflect and thrive at their own pace within a very busy clinical program. To approach this learner-centered education, I formulated a close knit of problem-based learning, evidence-based medicine, hands-on practice, community outreach and research exposure in her teaching approach. I have developed an array of teaching initiatives to support each SLP student’s development as an independent learner, a competent clinician and a socially accountable citizen.

Nicole Li-Jessen has set a very high standard for online learning. She maintains a balance between teaching us lots of information while not making us feel overwhelmed in her course. She makes herself readily available to her students if they have any questions, she is continually supportive of our efforts and appreciative of our involvement, and she has created interactive and high-quality online modules. She is very aware of our mental health and our workload and is a very considerate professor. She has the rare talent of being incredibly knowledgeable but also very capable of presenting the material in an understandable way.

Aparna Nadig

My approach to teaching in these challenging time has been to be available for my students and receptive to what is going on with them, and with myself, even if it takes us off a planned course, being receptive and flexible. By supporting each other we have been able to find resilience, innovation, and some significant achievements that are moving us forward.

Aparna took time to let her students respond and react to the crisis of anti-black racism that has also deeply affected us in the last 6 months. Together they came up with a code of conduct for their lab to express how they wanted to treat each other. I thought this was a really important way to support students through a difficult time.

Linda Polka

Being an optimist, I see the challenges of this time as an opportunity to discover hidden resources that we have as teachers and as students to connect and learn with each other and from each other. If you don’t have a sense of humor, this is great time to develop one.

Linda really spearheaded the learning and teaching experience in our School this summer. She developed her course in record time and was always willing to share her valuable experience in overcoming the many challenges that came up. I found her to be a true role model, and students were raving about her class.



Kelly Root

Teaching during the COVID-19 pandemic has been a challenge to capitalize on my strength of coming up with innovative solutions in a fast-paced and ever changing environment. It has also allowed me to reflect and refocus my teaching on relationship, building and empowering students’ autonomous decision making. I am humbled by the resilience, compassion, and kindness of the SCSD student body at large.

I would like to say a few words about Kelly. This year, she had to find replacement placements for all of our graduating students. Not only did she manage to find new placements for everyone, she managed to do so efficiently while considering each and every students’ needs and desires.

Susan Rvachew

The challenges of teaching in a new format during a worldwide crisis are many and significant but I am enjoying the opportunity to learn these new skills in collaboration with the students. The students’ kindness, curiosity and commitment to learning and professionalism shines bright and reignites my passion for teaching in these uncertain times.

I have had the chance to get to know you better over the last six months. You have been nothing but supportive since the beginning of the pandemic. You have shown that you care about everyone’s health, and I have seen you try to resolve students’ issues not only in our lab but also at the SCSD. This has been a valuable experience for me because it rarely happens that doctoral students get noticed, and you have been giving us the opportunity to be seen and heard in the faculty.

Karsten Steinhauer

I found remote teaching in the times of Covid to be both a challenge and a rewarding experience. Teaching the contents of 14 weeks in just four weeks, figuring out how to create online quizzes, and recording up to three lectures a day was the challenging part. Seeing just how well our students did under these difficult circumstances was a wonderful reward.

I really appreciate Karsten´s specific technical help and that he takes time to put together for us step by step tutorials on how to do things in Zoom - some of the instructions available online are not that easy to figure out so the step by step really helps.

Elin Thordardottir

I find that it remains important to meet as a class to learn together, ask questions and share thoughts. I have found that teaching through zoom is surprisingly effective and still allows for meaningful interchange. I find it important for me too to see the students rather than just talk to a computer so I appreciate it when at least a few of them have their videos on.

Elin is a dynamic teacher both inside and outside our school. It is really impressive that she is able to bring international stars to our school to help us raise awareness of Developmental Language Disorders while also solving the problem of teaching clinical skills in a safe and effective manner.


Lauren Tittley

Lauren is amazing at connecting with her students and adapting her teaching in the clinical setting to fit her student’s needs. Lauren quickly identifies which students are ready to take on tasks independently but also knows how to scaffold tasks for those students who need more support. She has continued to be able to do this even when we switched to online learning and telepractice clinics.

Lauren is calm and collected in all situations. She is exceptional at empowering students to take ownership of their learning and become independent clinicians.



Sophie Vaillancourt

My approach to teaching this year has been to be try to be as flexible and adaptable as possible. I try to have a plan A, a plan B and a plan C and continue to adapt on the fly to ensure that I cover everything that I need to and that the students still have fun doing it. I also try to make as much as I can in regards to diversity and inclusion whether it’s discussing it with the students, moving a class due to a strike for diversity or a religious holiday, inviting diverse guest speakers or continuing to educate myself by reading books and watching documentaries.

Sophie has such a positive energy and is always there to support you, encourage you and work with you! She is incredibly willing go the extra mile to find solutions to any problem you may have. One of the many things making her a fabulous teacher is that, for her, teaching is always a collaboration with students; she puts in the same amount of effort she asks of her students, if not more! This makes her class and the clinical portions of the program the best experience possible!


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