From the Director: Reflecting on your teaching
As this academic year concludes, it is a time to breathe deep, relax our stressed minds, and reflect upon all that we have accomplished this year. Having worked with literally hundreds of Vanderbilt faculty throughout 2022-23, we at the Center for Teaching can attest to the colossal effort educators across all schools and ranks have given to meet today’s teaching challenges and to engage our students in meaningful learning. Whether it has been in our many consults, our Junior Faculty Teaching Fellows program, the Certificate in College Teaching, or our learning community on Anti-Racist Teaching, we have seen your passion for your disciplines and your students as you seek to improve. At this end-of-the-year moment filled with a mixture of summer anticipation and spring exhaustion, we want to celebrate all you have achieved in your teaching, and to thank you for co-creating with us such a supportive teaching community.
This said, we know that, given the academic preoccupation of intensive self-criticism, you are likely thinking about how your teaching could improve. Indeed, we tend to fixate on the negative – that one discussion that fell flat or that one assignment that could have been clearer. Soon, you also will receive student evaluations, which, however positive, may spark even more self-criticism. Please know that we are here for you when these moments of evaluation arise.
One of the most useful services we offer at the CFT are consultations on student evaluations. In these consults, typically educators share their student evaluations with us so that we can help interpret student ratings or comments, sort and prioritize criticisms, and of course develop strategies for improvement. We also can aid educators as they try compare student evaluations with other evidence of student challenges and success, particularly in preparation for professional review. Lastly, these consults can involve longer-term, holistic planning around the development of your teaching philosophies and practices (for instance, embracing a range of inclusive teaching practices). Educators across campus find these consultations to be immensely helpful, so we hope you will contact us to schedule one when you are ready. To learn more about all of our consultation services, please click here. Have a great summer!