The middle of the semester is almost upon us. Depending on the flow of your classes, you may have just handed back the first major assignment or assessment; or maybe you’re gearing up for a mid-term exam. Either way, it’s that time in the semester when we tend to take a moment to remind students what we’ve been doing up to this point and what they can expect moving forward. It seems like a good time for me to do the same as director of the Andison Center for Teaching Excellence.
What’s Been Going on Behind the Scenes
This year’s Andison Center programming began before Fall Conference. As part of the onboarding process, all new faculty members were invited to participate in a whirlwind introduction to academic expectations at Alma College—from syllabi and office hours to the basics of using Canvas. We continue to meet regularly this semester to discuss James Lang’s On Course: A Week-by-Week Guide to Your First Semester of College Teaching. The text provides a nice outline of topics to consider (even if it’s not one’s first semester of college teaching), and the meetings are a great place to ask questions, share ideas, and get to know each other.
There’s something great about getting together at the end of each week, seeing colleagues who work in different buildings and on different schedules. It reminds me how much I missed the personal interactions last year. Working around faculty meetings and breaks, we try to bring a variety of discussions and presentations that touch on pedagogy, scholarly activity, and institutional priorities in the academic sector. Last Friday, Dr. Kristin Olbertson shared a preview of her forthcoming book, The Dreadful Word: Speech Crime & Polite Gentlemen in Massachusetts, 1690-1776. Ask her about the mumpers.
Here’s what you can look forward to for the remaining Fridays this semester:
· October 8: Faculty Meeting
· October 15: Mid-term Break
· October 22: Discussion of the Master’s of Public Health Proposal
· October 29: Workshopping and Brainstorming General Education “Themes” Courses
· November 5: Presentations by Drs. Holly Liu and Robert Molina—Sabbatical Projects
· November 12: Faculty Meeting
· November 19: NetVue Summer Reading Groups Regroup and Update on Outcomes
· November 26: Thanksgiving Recess
· December 3: Faculty Meeting
The big tent was fun for the first few weeks, but we’ll return to our tradition of gathering in SAC 110 between 3:30-5:00. Typically, we spend the first 15-20 minutes just enjoying each other’s company and then settle in for the topic of the day. Come when you can and leave when you must. In the spirit of conviviality, snacks and drinks are provided by the Andison Center for Excellence and Teaching.
Something New on The Horizon
Recognizing that there aren’t enough Fridays to go around, we’re launching two new series: Lunch & Learn, and Coffee & Conversation to provide time and space to discuss and workshop various topics of interest to the faculty. A more complete program is in the works, but our first Lunch & Learn is this Thursday, October 7. The Andison Center invites you to come to the Thistle Room for Lunch, 11:45-1:15 (come when you can and leave when you must). Special bonus: Thursday is the special Global Chef menu. We’ll be sharing strategies and policies for dealing with student absences, be they due to medical leave, quarantine, or other issues. If you can’t make it feel free to send questions, comments, and techniques that are working for you to AndisonCenter@alma.edu. After the discussion, I’ll compile and share the wisdom of the Hivemind.
I look forward to seeing and hearing from you soon.