A University of the Fraser Valley professor who prepares the next generation of teachers to enter the field has been honoured for her own teaching skills with a 3M National Teaching Fellowship.
Dr. Awneet Sivia, who has taught and provided leadership in UFV’s Teacher Education department since 2011, is one of 10 Canadian post-secondary educators to receive the 3M fellowship this year, and the first-ever recipient from UFV.
This is the third teaching award that Sivia has received in the past 12 months. She was UFV’s Teaching Excellence award winner in 2021, and recently was one of five inaugural recipients of the West Coast Teaching Award, given by the British Columbia Teaching and Learning Council.
Dr. James Mandigo, Provost and Vice President Academic at UFV, noted that he, along with the rest of the UFV community, is immensely proud of her achievement.
“Dr. Sivia is an incredible role model for her students,” Mandigo said. “She transforms the lives of her students but then shares her enthusiasm and expertise across campus and into the community. It is very gratifying to see her honoured at the national level. At the same time, this award enhances UFV’s reputation as a university that celebrates and prioritizes teaching excellence.”
Sivia is an education specialist whose teaching and educational leadership and innovation are guided by himmat, a Punjabi word encompassing attributes such as courage, heart, daring, fearlessness, commitment, strength, and resolve.
She uses “embedded pedagogy,” modeling good teaching practice as part of the hidden curriculum to provide academic, social, and cultural experiences outside of the formal dimensions of learning.
Through “first touch” experiential learning and problem-based, project-based, and inquiry learning, her students come to their own assumptions and understandings of the curriculum. Having them explore their ideas and understanding of a topic, Dr. Sivia encourages students to broaden their thinking.
Sivia says that she is “tremendously honoured” to have been named a 3M National Teaching Fellow.
“I feel I share this award with the amazing students, colleagues and community members at UFV and beyond who have inspired me to reach for excellence in teaching and leadership. Every one of them has pushed my practice forward, prompted me to reflect and grow, and supported me to take risks in my professional journey. My love for creating varied curriculum designs, trying innovative learning approaches, and providing a variety of assessment options is because students are worth it — their learning is paramount to the success of any educational endeavour and certainly to their own learning journeys moving forward.
“And, with colleagues, the power of professional collaboration truly elevates the quality of teaching and learning at UFV and I have worked with amazing colleagues. Thus, it is with deep gratitude to all those at UFV and beyond who have shaped my life as an educator — thank you! I am thrilled beyond words! I congratulate the rest of this year’s 3M Fellows and look forward to connecting with them very soon.”
Ian Levings and Nerlap Sidhu, principal and teacher at Eugene Reimer Middle School, also celebrated Sivia’s award.
“She is impacting every teacher candidate she connects with and instilling the belief that diversity and equity are what makes our community stronger,” they noted.
An educator with more than 30 years’ experience who was a teacher herself before becoming a professor of education, Sivia is changing science learning, not only at UFV, but across the lower mainland of British Columbia. She served as Teacher Education department head until 2014, and in 2019 took on the role of chair of the new Master of Education program.
On the service side, she has been a member of the UFV Race and Anti-Racism Network, the President’s task force on Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, and a Teacher Education group that received innovation funding to develop social justice activities.
Sivia is also working with educators from across B.C. on a South Asian curriculum development project and in 2019, launched a regional Self-Study Research group with teacher educators across BC.
The 3M National Teaching Fellowship is sponsored by both 3M Canada and the Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education (STLHE). Founded in 1986, the Fellowship honours exceptional contributions to teaching and learning at the post-secondary level.
The 2022 3M National Teaching Fellowship Award recipients are not only excellent educators, but also leaders, both nationally and internationally, at their institutions and within their professional communities.
Recipients of the award each receive a two-year membership for STLHE and are invited to a retreat with their cohort to share knowledge and create synergies to continue to promote leadership and excellence in teaching and learning.
STLHE and 3M Canada will officially welcome these educators into the Fellowship at the STLHE conference which will be hosted in Ottawa from June 7-10, 2022.