Teaching During Transition: Open Forum Today

Support at the Beginning of the Semester

Welcome back! We hope you had opportunities to rest during the break, and we look forward to working with you again this semester.

While we are pleased to greet the new term and our new students, many of us are also reeling after our first day of classes coincided with a violent mob invading the U.S. Capitol, endangering our elected leaders, and delaying the certification of the Electoral College votes. We’re still trying to process what has happened, and we’re sure our students are, too.

In addition to raising new questions about the health of our democracy, recent events also raise questions about our teaching. What do we say to our students about what we are seeing in the news? How do we make space for them to ask questions or share concerns, when we are just getting to know them? How do we start our classes amid political turmoil, during an ongoing pandemic, and when we and our students may all be having trouble focusing? How do we make our content feel meaningful, against this backdrop? And perhaps most importantly, how do the learning experiences we offer our students help to prepare them for the future they will face?

These are not questions with easy answers, so we’d like to open up a space for conversation with colleagues who would like to share ideas and resources, or seek guidance about teaching in the first few weeks of this semester. We invite you to attend our Open Forum today from 1:00 – 2:00 p.m. to discuss teaching during the transition. Click here for the Zoom link to attend.

As always, we also offer one-on-one consultations, workshops, faculty reading groups, and custom programming for departments and groups. Please contact us at pro-teaching@fsu.edufor more information or to schedule. We look forward to working with you on any aspect of your teaching, and we extend our best wishes for a great semester, in which, we have no doubt, there will also be much to look forward to.

Spring Faculty Reading Groups

This semester, CAT is offering the following fully online faculty reading groups. Each group will meet once a week for three weeks on Zoom to discuss the books in sections. Most books will be available electronically, so it will be possible to participate from anywhere. We hope you can join us! Please register here.

Creating the Path to Success in the Classroom: Teaching to Close the Graduation Gap for Minority, First-Generation, and Academically Unprepared Students

Wednesdays: 1/20, 1/27, 2/3
2:00 – 3:30 p.m. on Zoom

Over the past few decades, extensive research has shown that we can significantly reduce opportunity gaps and enhance student learning by adjusting our teaching practices and the ways we structure our courses. But where do we start? Kathleen Gabriel’s book provides practical strategies for building our courses to ensure that more students learn more and more deeply. Gabriel offers concrete steps we can take to enhance student motivation, structure class time effectively, prompt critical thinking, design effective assignments, and create classroom climates that promote learning.

How Learning Works

Thursdays: 1/21, 1/28, 2/4
12:00 – 1:30 p.m. on Zoom

This book distills the research on cognition, translating decades of scientific literature into practical advice and introducing seven general principles of how people learn. The authors draw on cognitive, developmental, and social psychology, as well as educational research, anthropology, etc. The discussion spans issues from memory to motivation, integrating theory with real classroom examples. Participants will develop strategies for strengthening their own teaching through the application of these principles, with a focus on applying the strategies in the book to remote teaching and learning.

Why They Can’t Write

Fridays: 1/22, 1/29, 2/5
1:00 – 2:30 p.m. on Zoom

Inspired by faculty complaints about students’ writing, especially that undergraduates have so much trouble sharing their own thinking—whether critical or creative—in clear and compelling ways, Warner argues that students’ trouble with college-level writing isn’t caused by a lack of rigor, or smartphones, or some generational character defect, but instead by standardized testing and other issues in the U.S. education system. He argues that students have been conditioned to perform “writing-related simulations,” in which they simply follow the rules to get the grade. Why They Can’t Write includes both a diagnosis and a proposal for improving the ways we teach writing throughout students’ lives, urging us to explore how people really develop the skills, attitudes, knowledge, and habits of mind of strong writers.

How to Be an Antiracist

Wednesdays: 2/10, 2/17, 2/24
2:00 – 3:30 p.m. on Zoom

Ibram X. Kendi, winner of the National Book Award, traces the structural functions of racism, helping readers see how policies and institutions perpetuate injustice. Participants will work on making their own lives and teaching practices more intentionally antiracist and will consider how to negotiate tough classroom conversations.

Black, Brown, Bruised: How Racialized STEM Education Stifles Innovation

Thursdays: 2/11, 2/18, 2/25
12:00 – 1:30 p.m. on Zoom

By examining the experiences of underrepresented, racially minoritized students and faculty who have succeeded in STEM, McGee invites readers to analyze and address structural, institutional, and individual decisions that perpetuate disparities in STEM education and careers. Since COVID-19 and remote instruction may have exacerbated already widening outcome inequities for many students of color in STEM, this faculty reading group will focus on improving STEM teaching and learning through anti-racist instruction, including decolonizing syllabi, avoiding deficit models, and addressing stereotype threat and implicit biases. Decolonizing STEM resources will be available, and participating faculty and TAs are invited to share their favorite resources as well.

Play: How it Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul

Thursdays: 2/11, 2/18, 2/25
1:00 – 2:30 p.m. on Zoom

Do you have fun while teaching? Do your students have fun while learning? What role does pleasure have in intellectual growth? Is there room for play in a 21st Century college education? As we discuss Brown’s book, which explains why play is essential to our social skills, adaptability, intelligence, creativity, ability to problem solve and more, we will explore answers to these questions and others, and think of creative ways to apply what we learn from this fascinating blend of cutting-edge neuroscience, biology, psychology, social science, and human stories to our own lives and teaching.