Our last ACE professional development (PD) session on May 18 was yet again a wonderful opportunity to connect with colleagues from all around the province. We had a whopping 92 members attend the event, which is about half our membership and possibly the largest group we’ve had attend one of our PD events!

This past event aimed to explore the spectrum of what we do as co-op practitioners in all its richness, complexity, and diversity, with the event offering a variety of different sessions throughout the day on working with employer partners, curriculum and teaching, and dealing with difficult situations that come up in our work.

We were fortunate to be able to team up again with the ACE Membership Committee, who opened the event with their popular activity pairing experienced members with new members first introduced at our previous ACE PD November event last year. This was followed by a quick official welcome by ACE President, Claudia Sperling, who never fails to entertain a crowd.

The day offered six sessions in total in pairs of concurrent sessions. The first two sessions of the day had an employer partner focus with an update on the Chartered Professional Accountants of British Columbia (CPABC)’s programs facilitated by CPA’s Sharon Hummel, Ella Bohinska, and Katja Langas well as a session on handling employer objections to hiring co-op students facilitated by University of Victoria (UVic)’s Shara Grice, during which everyone in the session got to know each other a bit more as well as learn some strategies on showing employers how they might benefit from hiring co-op students.

These opening sessions were followed by a lunch and ACE’s AGM and awards ceremony—a wonderful opportunity to highlight some of our achievements of the year, announce our new ACE Board, as well as celebrate our outstanding ACE 2015 Student of the Year Winners and 2015 Industry Partner of the Year.

The next sessions gave us a quick glimpse into the innovative work our members are doing at their institutions: Heather Williams from Simon Fraser University (SFU) presented a much talked about session that showcased the development of SFU’s online visually-based course designed to assist English as an Additional Language (EAL) and Canada as an Additional Culture (CAC) co-op students create strong work search documents as well as be better prepared for related intercultural communications activities. Lindsay Wood from Kwantlen Polytechnic University and Andrea Sator from SFU facilitated what seemed like a lightning session incorporating excellent ideas and best practices from the crowd in implementing teaching and learning in co-op, especially when faced with challenges of time, resources, and buy-in from important partners. Can’t wait to get the compiled notes from that session!

Our last pair of concurrent sessions were both “encore” sessions from last November’s ACE PD back by popular demand. Julie Walchli from University of British Columbia (UBC), this time around joined by Sue Stanley from SFU, presented on navigating difficult situations, sharing some real-life examples while facilitators Cynthia Maclean from British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT) and Christy Dodds from Capilano University led their group through lively discussions of case studies involving ethical issues we might all face as co-op practitioners. Both sessions provided useful frameworks that I’m sure many have taken away to implement in their own work.

There was, of course, the chance to continue socialising at Steamworks Brewpub after the event’s official close—something that now seems like the tradition at our ACE PD events.

As co-chair of the ACE PD Committee, I would like to thank everyone who attended our May 18 PD event for your energy and contributions to the day, which helped make for another successful PD event. It’s always good to be reminded of our shared experiences while learning more about each other’s programs.

Thanks to all those also who filled out the survey for the event. The ACE PD Committee is already looking forward to seeing how we can incorporate your ideas and feedback in our next event in November!