Provost’s Office

The Week Ahead: September 21 - 24, 2021

Dear Colleagues,

We’re in week four, and hopefully your schedule is developing a somewhat predictable rhythm. Last week, I wrote about how important it is for us to find a healthy sense of work-life balance. In many ways the post was a reminder to myself that being the perfect professor is an unattainable goal and that doing more isn’t always the answer. If our conversations at the Friday Forum were any indication, we’re all in agreement. So, I’m counting on a network of mutual support.

The Week Four Speed-Bump

This week, my students are beginning to slump under the weight of their first exams, not enough sleep, and the perennial wave of strep throat that ushers in autumn. I dedicated a few minutes in class to remind them to get more sleep and take care of themselves. One of the best things about Alma College is that we work closely enough with our students to notice these trends. And students interact closely enough with us that maybe they’ll even heed our advice.

That Alma Connection

The predictable slump of the fourth week is off-set by the pleasure of that sea of (currently masked) faces begin to reflect increasing individualism. We all know that students aren’t “brains-on-sticks.” I hope they know that I don’t think of them that way. Using preferred names and pronouns to creating examples, scenarios, and problem sets in which they can see themselves, are ways we can demonstrate that we see them as individuals. We can also look for ways to help them connect their own experiences and interests with our discipline.

Passion: Nature or Nurture?

I’ve never taught a class in which every student enrolled was passionate about the topic. Come to think of it, I haven’t been passionate about every class I’ve ever taken either. Regardless of my enthusiasm going in, the best classes I’ve every taken were taught by someone who made space at the table for me and allowed me to imagine myself sitting there.

A Training Opportunity

Earlier this week, you received an invitation to attend a virtual training session lead by Dr. Jon Humiston (They/Them) who will walk faculty members through ways to support Trans* and Nonbinary students. Dr. Humiston has been engaged in supporting LGBTQ+ students for multiple decades and is a wealth of knowledge on making our classrooms and andragogy increasingly supportive of trans* and nonbinary students. Dr. Humiston has graciously agreed to record the training, so if you can’t attend Wednesday, September 22 4:30-5:30, we can get you the link. Many thanks to Kevin Carmody, Civil Rights and Title IX Coordinator for connecting Dr. Humiston with many constituencies on campus setting up this opportunity for faculty.

This Week’s Friday Forum

Please join us at 3:30 this Friday, again under the big, white tent on the Heritage Center lawn. Drs. Maya Dora-Lasky (English) and Brian Hancock (Education) will co-host an interactive presentation on Teaching as Relational and Embodied Work. I look forward to seeing you and engaging in rich discussions. As always, snacks and beverages will be provided by the Andison Center for Teaching Excellence. Come when you can and leave when you must.


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