Andison Center for Teaching Excellence

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Hello, Colleagues!

I hope “exciting and energizing” outweighed “stressful and chaotic” for your first week back. I have to admit that my first week ran the length of the spectrum, but there was a moment when all my students were noisily working on an activity in pairs when I realized how happy I was to be surrounded by active learners instead of staring into the void of a Teams meeting. Masks and all, it’s good to be back! I’m looking forward to working this year in a collaborative effort to provide the best experience we can for our students and ourselves.

The Andison Center for Teaching Excellence

The Andison Center for Excellence in Teaching is funded through the generosity of Mr. Thomas Andison, long-time board member and friend of Alma College, in support of his belief that excellent teaching is the foundation of an Alma education. Over the years, it has supported a wide variety of professional development activities including but not limited to the support and mentoring of new and early-career faculty members, faculty participation in on- and off-campus workshops to explore new pedagogical approaches, and collaborative efforts to create supportive learning environments. Also of note, is the ever-popular Friday Forum Series where we gather to hone our craft, celebrate our work, and strengthen our commitment to a common goal of educating students who will think critically, serve generously, lead purposefully, and live responsibly. In the spring, that work is recognized and honored with the presentation of the Andison Awards for Teaching Excellence.

Where We’ve Been and Where We’re Going

Bringing our best to the classroom is always a labor of love, but the past year and a half was arguably one of the most challenging we have faced. We overcame the practical difficulties presented by the pivot to remote, then hybrid, teaching modalities imposed by the pandemic, sometimes by sheer force of will. Although we are back this fall to more traditional practices, we continue to wrestle with how best to respond to the racial, social, and economic inequities that last year’s crises brought into such sharp focus. The reading groups and workshops in which so many participated last year have provided us with theoretical frameworks and a common vocabulary to discuss how to build inclusivity into our structures and interactions moving forward. This year, Andison Center programming will continue to support this important institutional priority with a focus on sharing models and techniques that we can adapt and implement in our own classes and disciplines.

What’s New This Year

I’m launching this blog in an effort to provide a central hub from which to communicate information about the work of the Andison Center. I’ll post regularly with information about what the new faculty are discussing at our bi-weekly gatherings, preview what to expect at the Friday Forum, and facilitate participation with and communication from various interest groups. I’ll also share links to articles, resources, tools, and websites that may be of interest.

Lastly, I welcome you to the Andison Center for Teaching Excellence. Please feel free to send me resources you would like to share, suggestions for programming, requests for support, and anything else you think should come my way.

- Deb Dougherty, Director of the Andison Center for Teaching Excellence