What Faculty Do Matters

At the end of an exhausting academic year, it is good to stop and celebrate the importance of our work. In 10 Reasons Higher Education is One of the Most Challenging Careers, Terry Doyle does so by discussing the challenges faculty overcome to do their jobs well. In the article, he outlines 10 reasons why college teaching is one of the most challenging jobs in the world and one of the most important:

  1. Faculty Teach More than Content.
  2. All Learning is Interconnected.
  3. Faculty Have Little Control Over Many Aspects that Impact Learning.
  4. Faculty Cannot “Make” Students Learn.
  5. Time to Teach is Limited.
  6. Learning is a Social-Emotional Experience.
  7. Teachers Teach the Whole Person, Not a Subject Area.
  8. Diverse Learners.
  9. Technology as a Tool for Learning or a Distraction from Learning.
  10. Preconceived Expectations of Learning.

Doyle concludes that college teachers are “miracle workers” that are integral to every occupation and profession. He ends the article with an encouraging affirmation for faculty. “Although it is easy to focus on fatigue and negative aspects of being a college faculty member,” Doyle said, “create time to realize you do what few in our society can do, and it makes all the difference.

Terry Doyle is an author, educational consultant and  professor emeritus of reading at Ferris State University where he worked for 38 years. His work focuses on ways to assist higher education faculty in becoming learner centered teachers and how faculty can apply  new findings from neuroscience, biology and cognitive science in their teaching to improve students’ learning.

Interested in learning more about the scholarship of teaching and learning or accessing more of these resources? Belmont and Bunch Library offer the SoTL Resources at Bunch Library that provides information on SoTL professional organizations, research journals, conferences, etc.

Fostering Civil Discourse in the Classroom and Beyond

It’s no surprise that Americans believe that America has a civility problem. What may surprise you is that this is not a new phenomenon. In Civility in America: An Annual Nationwide Survey, Weber Shandwick and Powell Tate  conducted poll tracking since 2010 on the state of civility and found that 93 percent of Americans identify civility a problem, with 68 percent of those classifying it a “major” problem.

As a result, five Belmont students recently developed a campaign focused on improving civil discourse.

In their blog How to Start Engaging in Civil Discourse, they offer five practices for creating and sustaining healthy discourse in and out of the classroom:

  1. Prepare for civil dialogue 

A first step to engaging in civil discourse is creating an accepting and welcoming space for conversation and disagreement. You want to ensure that you do not silence differing opinions, but remain open to these conversations.

  1. Set boundaries

As you begin difficult conversations, be aware of your own mental and emotional needs, setting boundaries when necessary. You may need to limit the conversation time or scope in order to ensure a healthy and positive conversation for both you and your conversational partner(s).

  1. Focus on the issue

Miscommunication is real and can quickly reduce civil discourse. It is essential that all individuals in the conversation are on the same page so that miscommunication can be prevented. The more each individual keeps the evidence, comments, and conversation to the topic at hand, the easier it becomes to have civil and productive conversations.

  1. Listen to understand

Listening is essential to civil discourse. Individuals need to approach conversations with an open mind and a willingness to hear the other person. The central goal is to listen in order to understand, not listen in order to respond.

  1. Be honest and respectful

Civil discourse doesn’t mean censoring or downplaying your beliefs. In fact, it’s the opposite. Be honest about your own ideas, beliefs and opinions, and be respectful of the honest conversation of others.

The classroom is an important space for personal growth and development. By affecting civil discourse in the classroom, these Belmont students believe we can create a more civil and collaborative community beyond our academic borders. To learn more about their Talk the Talk civil discourse campaign, visit their website and take the pledge to demonstrate your support of engaging in civil discourse.

Self-Care While Teaching During a Pandemic

In her keynote presentation, professor Stephanie Dashiell opened with the words, “I’m not okay . . . and that’s okay.” She was speaking at the Conference on Higher Education Pedagogy @ Virginia Tech to educators who continue to grapple with the demands of teaching during a pandemic. Her message was simple — just as we care for our students, we must also care for ourselves.

Dashiell offered faculty several suggestions for practicing self-care, many of which we’ve heard before, but could probably benefit from a reminder:

  1. Set boundaries: Dashiell encouraged faculty to set specific work hours and stick to them as well as designate a specific space in the home for your work.
  2. Add smart/fun gadgets for the office: Provide yourself regular work breaks that encourage you to relax and move around.
  3. Music therapy: Dashiell explained the benefits of music therapy and its ability to inspire creative as well as relaxation.

Belmont faculty echoed many of these ideas in the recent panel “Teaching through Life Challenges.” In this presentation, five Belmont faculty shared their response to balancing life and teaching, adding a few additional points of encouragement.

  1. Let go of previous expectations that worked in different circumstances. Instead embrace that this time is different, which means we must moderate our expectations of ourselves and work differently.
  2. Find something that refreshes you and do it daily. Whether it is journaling, walking or embracing a new hobby, do something for yourself each day.
  3. Give yourself grace and ask for help.

In an effort to extend this conversation, the Teaching Center will host an Idea Swap on Wednesday, Feb. 17 at 3:30 p.m. for faculty to discuss Self-Care and Supports While Teaching During the Pandemic.

 

Teaching Center Events – Spring 2021

The Teaching Center has a number of events and opportunities this semester. Details are provided below. The Teaching Center will email invitations and reminders for individual events and opportunities.

 Lunchtime Presentations 

Wednesday, January 20

Antiracism: Elements for Teaching and Learning

Noon – 1:30 p.m.

Zoom Online

*In conjunction with MLK Week 

Monday, February 8

Teaching Through Life Challenges: Dealing with Significant Life-Changing Factors

Noon – 1:30 p.m.

Zoom Online

Friday, February 26

Topic TBD

Noon – 1:30 p.m.

Zoom Online

Thursday, March 25

Teaching Innovations Inspired by the Pandemic

Noon – 1:30 p.m.

Zoom Online

 

Teaching and Learning Idea Swap Sessions

Wednesday 3:30-4:30 p.m.

February 17

March 3

March 17

March 31

 

Circle of Trust Experiences

Facilitated by Judy Skeen

Participate in as many as you wish

Monday, January 25

9-10 a.m. or Noon-1 p.m.

Wednesday, February 24

Noon-1 p.m. or 3-4 p.m.

Friday, March 19

Noon-1 p.m.

Friday, March 26

2-3 p.m.

Thursday, April 29

10-2 p.m.

 

Reading Groups

How to Be An Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi

Dates and Times TBD

 

Belmont Applied Teaching and Learning (BeATLe) Groups

Small Teaching Online: Applying Learning Science in Online Classes

Engaging Learners through Zoom: Strategies for Virtual Teaching Across Disciplines

Dates and Times TBD

 

Additional Deadlines and Opportunities to Note

Tuesday, February 9 – 4 p.m.

Deadline to submit Teaching Center Travel Grant application for spring conferences (through May 2021)

Tuesday, March 9 – 4 p.m.

Deadline to submit Teaching Center Travel Grant application for summer conferences (June-September 2021)

 

Take Time to Reflect

Survival – that is what we are trying to do right now, and rightly so. Educators from every level of education, from those seasoned and those just beginning, describe this semester as the most difficult teaching semester of their career. But when we survive (and we will) what is next? In the article The Power of Reflection, educator Lori Cohen suggests that we take time to reflect.

Reflection is a common classroom practice. Faculty routinely ask students to reflect as a metacognitive exercise to strengthen learning connections and identify key means for improvement. Cohen encourages faculty to do the same for themselves. She describes reflection as a “thinking tool” that informs future mindsets and enhances decision making. Thus reflection may be our most valuable tool as we prepare for an equally uncertain spring semester. To develop this tool, Cohen suggests three key steps:

  1. Set conditions for reflection: Cohen says that each of us have “conditions for writing.” For some, it may be a comfy chair; for others, it might be a pretty pen. Cohen encourages faculty to identify and satisfy these personal conditions.
  2. Set a time to reflect: Cohen acknowledges that making space for reflection can feel like a monumental task, but it’s important to identify a time to reflect and stick to it.
  3. Determine a process that works for you: Often we assume reflection takes the form of writing, but there are other equally effective forms of reflection, such as sketch noting, using voice memos, or micro-reflecting on post-its. Cohen says the key is to make reflection easy and fit your strengths.
  4. Get started: Finally, Cohen says the most important step in the reflective process is to simply begin, and her article suggests several entry points for doing so.

Author Lori Cohen is the former Dean of Faculty at the Bay School of San Francisco and was the founder/coordinator of Bay’s Teaching Fellows program. She currently serves as an independent school consultant for Bright Morning Consulting. Her article The Power of Reflection was posted by the California Teacher Development Collaborative.

Interested in learning more about the scholarship of teaching and learning or accessing more of these resources? Belmont and Bunch Library offer the SoTL Resources at Bunch Library that provides information on SoTL professional organizations, research journals, conferences, etc.

 

The purpose of the Resource of the Month is twofold:

1) To encourage the scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL) by providing examples of high-quality research.

2) To provide faculty with innovative ideas that promote effective pedagogy.

Navigating Challenging Classroom Conversations

Recently the Teaching Center partnered with Belmont’s Faculty Inclusion, Diversity and Equity (FIDE) Committee to host the mini-workshop “Navigating Challenging Conversations: Growth Opportunities with Our Students and Ourselves.”

Through this workshop FIDE committee members discussed the importance of facilitating diverse ideas, perspectives and experiences with our students. While important opportunities, these conversations can often create challenges for maintaining a safe and positive learning environment. As a result, FIDE identified three steps to help faculty build respect while ensuring everyone has a voice in the classroom.

First, faculty should establish and maintain ground guidelines for respectful, engaged dialogue. For example, faculty could ask students to  help co-construct conversation guidelines, or ask students to try to understand each other’s perspectives before responding.

Second, faculty should promote different perspectives by modeling open-mindness. For example, during a conversation, faculty could invite those who have not contributed yet to join the discussion, or faculty might lead students in considering counter-approaches to an idea. Faculty could also offer students follow-up opportunities to continue or respond to the conversation by visiting faculty during office hours or emailing faculty their thoughts or concerns.

Finally, faculty should reflect, gather feedback and refine the approach. For example, if tension increase during the conversation, faculty could offer a five minute reflection exercise where students reflect, write and think about the topic and why it has become challenging. Faculty could also develop a “ticket out the door” formative assessment where students anonymously provide their perspective on the topic/discussion and what worked or could be improved.

FIDE committee members offered several additional examples on how to implement each of these steps in the classroom. The full resource is available here.

Belmont’s Faculty Inclusion, Diversity and Equity (FIDE) Committee is comprised of Michelle Corvette, Chuck Hodgin, Mona Ivey-Soto, Loren Mulraine, Doug Crews, Edgar Diaz-Cruz, Mary Mayorga, Marieta Velikova, Don Byrd, Matt Heard and Eric Holt.

Resource of the Month

The hyflex and online teaching formats have altered our approach to teaching and engaging with students as well as raised questions on how to enhance student learning in the age of COVID. September’s resource of the month briefly addresses one of these concerns, how to sustain emotional connections with students.

In the article “Cameras and Masks: Sustaining Emotional Connections with Your Students in an Age of COVID19,” Howard Aldrich, professor of sociology at UNC Chapel Hill, offers several suggestions on how faculty can enhance engagement in the classroom and online. Of those, Aldrich suggests faculty lecture less and utilize more structured discussions, polls, and in-class videos in an effort to “replace yourself as the chief talker.” He also suggests having a brief “check-in” at the beginning of every class “during which students can share some of the difficulties they’ve encountered in learning under the constraints imposed by COVID-19 restrictions.” Aldrich offers additional suggests on how to teach while practicing social distancing and how to handle student cameras when teaching online. This article is the first of a two-part series on how to foster and sustain student engagement during this time.

Author Howard Aldrich is a Kenan Professor of Sociology in the department of sociology at UNC Chapel Hill. His article is published in Tomorrow’s Professor Postings sponsored by the Stanford Center for Teaching and Learning. This publication seeks to foster a diverse, world-wide teaching and learning ecology among its over 65,000 subscribers at over 1,000 institutions and organizations in over 100 countries around the world.

Interested in learning more about the scholarship of teaching and learning or accessing more of these resources? Belmont and Bunch Library offer the SoTL Resources at Bunch Library that provides information on SoTL professional organizations, research journals, conferences, etc.

The purpose of the Resource of the Month is twofold:

1) To encourage the scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL) by providing examples of high-quality research.

2) To provide faculty with innovative ideas that promote effective pedagogy.

Recordings of Previous Teaching Center Events Now Available

Previous Teaching Center workshops are now available through Belmont’s Teaching Center Repository.

This repository provides helpful resources on teaching and learning previously offered by the Teaching Center that faculty can view or review on-demand as part of their overall professional development.

Currently, the Teaching Center Repository offers several recent Teaching Center events, including:

  • The Teaching Center May Workshop on Tenure & Promotion at Belmont: Best Practices in Creating An Effective Faculty Portfolio hosted by Jamie Adam, James Al-Shamma, Annette Sisson and Darlene Panvini.
  • The Summer Webinar Series offers three webinars on online course development presented by Angela Clauson and Catherine Starnes, Ginny Lamothe and Beth Miller, and Kevin Trowbridge.
  • The Teaching Center August Workshops with Claire Major. This set of resources includes three workshops: Engaging with Flexible and Resilient Teaching: HyFlex and Blended Learning, Teaching for Learning: Active Learning in the Online Classroom, and Terms of Engagement: Understanding and Promoting Engagement in Online Courses. The accompanying slides for each workshop are also provided.
  • The Fall Lunch Discussion on Supports for Belmont Students: Connecting with Student Life presented by Angie Bryant, Melissa Smith, David Sneed, Katherine Cornelius, Maren Bishop and Janelle Briscoe.

Additional lunch discussions and webinars will be added throughout the semester.

Teaching Center Events: Fall 2020

The Teaching Center has a number of events and opportunities this semester. Details are provided below. The Teaching Center will email invitations and reminders for individual events and opportunities.

Lunchtime Presentations

Thursday, September 3

Supports for Belmont Students: Connecting with Student Life Resources

Noon – 1:30 p.m.

Zoom Online

*Cosponsored with Student Life Departments

Wednesday, September 23

Universal Design for Learning to Address Student Needs

Noon – 1:30 p.m.

Zoom Online

*In conjunction with Diversity Week

Thursday, October 1

Women’s Suffrage: Teaching and Learning Connections and Opportunities

11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m.

Zoom Online

*Cosponsored with the Humanities Symposium

Teaching and Learning Idea Swap Sessions

Wednesday 3:30-4:30 p.m.

September 2

September 16

September 30

October 14

October 28

Reading Groups

Veil by Rafia Zakaria

Tuesday Reading Groups

8-9 a.m.; 3:30-4:30 p.m.

September 8, 15, 22

Friday Reading Groups

8-9 a.m.; Noon – 1 p.m.

September 11, 18, 25

*In conjunction with the FYS Featured Presenter

Belmont Applied Teaching and Learning (BeATLe) Groups

Small Teaching Online: Applying Learning Science in Online Classes

Teaching for Learning: 101 Intentionally Designed Instructional Activities to Put Students on the Path to Success

Dates and Times TBD

Teaching Center Travel Grants

Tuesday, September 15 – 4 p.m.

Deadline to submit Teaching Center Travel Grant application

Recording of the Tenure and Promotion at Belmont Online Workshop Now Available

In partnership with the Belmont University Tenure, Promotion and Leaves Committee, the Teaching Center recently hosted the workshop, “Tenure & Promotion at Belmont: Best Practices in Creating an Effective Faculty Portfolio.” During this workshop, members of the Tenure, Promotion and Leaves Committee walked attendees through the process of preparing the tenure and promotion portfolio. Faculty participants had the opportunity to view specific examples from recent successful portfolios and get answers to commonly asked questions.

Faculty can access a recording of the workshop as well as the workshop’s PowerPoint slides.