Instructor Margot Van Sluytman Writes & Teaches New Course: Your Voice Matters – Expressive Writing for Employability
Margot Van Sluyman is a Professor at Centennial who teaches the GNED 500 Global Citizenship course and is about to launch her new course and accompanying book, Your Voice Matters – Expressive Writing for Employability this fall. However, her experience with Centennial doesn’t start here, as Margot herself is a Centennial graduate from the Book, Editing and Design program (now called Publishing – Book, Magazine, and Electronic). It was this program that helped to propel her into the publishing industry, and it played a large role in her becoming the poet, author, and social justice advocate she is today.
This course, which Margot has created, written, and will eventually teach, consists of two-hour lessons over a span of ten weeks – one hour consists of synchronous learning (workshop style), while the next hour is asynchronous. Students will learn the necessary skills to use their experience, knowledge, and very own voice to understand what it is they are seeking from their employment and what it is they will bring to their employment. This will be done through engaging writing exercises that focus on self-awareness to allow students to find what it is they are seeking in their job search and post-employment.
Further, students will learn how to utilize the gifts they already possess, to create, build, and nurture relationships to find their job prospects and post-employment relationships. Margot says the goal of this course is to provide students with the opportunity to learn the skills they need, in order to use the experience, knowledge, and voice they already have, that way they can understand what it is they are seeking from their employment.
Margot’s passion for storytelling, poetry, and teaching mesh together to form the making of this course, and she is thrilled to be able to take her experiences with employment and assist students. It is important to note that this is not a resumé writing course or what you might expect with a course on employment, but rather, it takes a personal deep dive within and will create a space for open discussions and collaboration. Margot says that the course will help map your voice for employment, as a way to have conversations with yourself about the importance of relationships. Resilience, voice, self-care, compassion – these are themes that live within us, and this course can help to explore them even more so.
Accompanying this course is a book that Margot has put together full of poetry and illustrations, each with a different theme that explores our passions and lived experiences, focusing on the importance of using your voice. Margot says, “I have one section called facing COVID, I have another called nature and how nature connects us to work and how our shared humanity connects us… all of it relates very clearly to employment.”
Some of the other themes Margot has selected to explore include foundational research, self-awareness, articulating your goals, how to access employment opportunities in the changing and temporary job market, knowing yourself deeply, and learning from a professor who lives this stuff and has the confidence in the College. These themes combine to create the material and work students will engage with.
Reflecting on the initial steps in creating this course, Margot shares that she was in a faculty meeting, and what struck her was the exceptional forwardness of Centennial. This led her to think of her own students in the GNED-500 course and how she noticed their grades have been better than they have ever been, even in the pandemic. She thought about how writing can express our needs and how we can have a voice no matter what happens. “With my students, and with me too, all of us were wondering what’s going to happen with work. So, I thought, why don’t I write a book and offer a course on writing your voice for employability.” After speaking with Centennial’s President, Craig Stephenson, and Barry Waite, Chair of Communications & Media at the School of Communications, Media, Arts & Design, they were both on board.
While in the process of crafting the book and course, Margot reached out to experts she knows in her field of work to contribute pieces. Mariama Hassane Ali, a graduate of Margot’s Global Citizenship course, contributed to the foreword of the book and spoke about voice and agency – something she discovered within herself within that course. Margot also reached out to Caroline Archambault, a Quebec artist, who created the cover of the book, as well as the supplementary paintings and illustrations that coincide with each poem and writing assignment on every page of the book.
Some of the major takeaways that students will acquire after taking this course, which Margot has outlined, include an in-depth look at foundational research and how writing your voice allows you to address your fears, concerns, and rich needs for your relationship to employment; how your self-awareness and your voice (understanding, focusing, sifting, sensing, focusing, writing) matter when you are seeking employment and thereafter; how to clearly articulate your goals and wants in relation to your vision, views, and yearning for job search; how to access employment opportunities in a changing job market, which signal insecurity with the gig-economy, temporary jobs, and vague job descriptions; how to write your wants and needs, and create the capacity to be clear, honest, and focused in your job search and while you work; and how to embody the confidence to seek employment, to navigate a changing job market, and to know that the experience and expertise of a Centennial graduate and Alumni has proven these skills to be effective and powerfully useful.
This course does not provide a credit, but it is open to all students who want to critically explore personal themes related to employment. Already, Margot has received such great feedback from those who have only read the concept of the course, and she is looking forward to what is to come.
Margot’s expertise in poetry and writing, and her ability to think openly, while also allowing for those she teaches to do the same, will surely make this course a great success.
Learn more about the course here.
Written by: Alexandra Few