January 2022
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As I write this, snow is falling in Nashville, and I’m reminded of all the challenges our local community has faced over the last two years, from tornadoes and storms to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The teaching community at Vanderbilt has had to adapt again and again over the last two years, and I expect that will continue into 2022. Just last month, the university announced a change to the spring academic calendar, and instructors are returning to their course plans to adapt to the new situation.
As you look ahead to the spring semester, know that the Center for Teaching is ready to support you. Our instructional consultants are available to help you think through course design and teaching decisions you’re now facing. Our Brightspace support team is reachable seven days a week for technical and pedagogical help using our course management system. And our Digital Media Lab and One Button Studio are available to help you create and use video and other media in your teaching.
We also have a well-regarded collection of on-demand resources for the Vanderbilt teaching community. Start with our “Preparing for Spring 2022 Resource Round-Up” for links to many resources developed over the last two years of adaptive teaching. Then visit our extensive set of research-based teaching guides, and spend some time with our course development resource site. We have an amazing staff at the CFT who have developed these resources to support you.
Best of luck this spring. Stay warm.
Derek Bruff, executive director, Vanderbilt Center for Teaching
Teaching in a Mask
Since the university has reinstituted universal masking for the spring semester, some of us will be teaching in the classroom in a mask for the first time or the first time in a while. This presents some auditory and other challenges, but there are strategies you can use to mitigate these challenges. Here are a few strategies, drawn from more extensive resources on this topic from teaching centers at the University of Michigan, Wake Forest University, and Illinois State University.
Use a lavalier microphone that projects your voice within the classroom. Contact av.support@vanderbilt.edu if you need help obtaining or setting up a microphone.
If you don’t have a microphone, speak a little louder and a little more slowly than usual, and don’t face the chalkboard or whiteboard while talking.
If you use slides while teaching, your slide program (PowerPoint, Google Slides, etc.) might be able to generate automatic captions in real-time.
Check-in regularly with your students to make sure they can hear you and hear each other. This feedback could a quick thumbs up or a short survey.
Protect your voice, especially if teaching multiple times a day. Give yourself regular voice breaks and drink plenty of water.
Create a short video introducing yourself and your course, without a mask. And hold at least some office hours on Zoom, so you can talk with students without masks.
Reaching Students through Open Pedagogy and Digital Media

In this workshop, participants will be invited to consider how they might pursue a more open pedagogy through the creation and sharing of digital media. Andy Wesolek, director of digital scholarship and scholarly communications at the Vanderbilt Libraries, will explore the practice of open pedagogy and the benefits it can bring to faculty and to students. Rhett McDaniel, assistant director for digital media at the Center for Teaching, will showcase the variety of digital media that faculty might be interested in creating on their own or with students. Rhett will also share how the Digital Media Lab can help faculty get started with this kind of work.
Sponsors: Digital Commons, Digital Scholarship & Communications, Center for Teaching
Date: Tuesday, February 1st
Time: 3:00 - 4:00pm
Location: Zoom
Come Work at the
Center for Teaching! 

Each year the Center for Teaching (CFT) hires a number of graduate students as part of its efforts to mentor and train graduate students, including those serving as teaching assistants or instructors of record here at Vanderbilt as well as those interested in developing teaching skills for future faculty careers. The CFT has several positions available for graduate students for the 2022-2023 academic year.
Graduate Teaching Fellow
GTFs lead sections of the Certificate in College (CiCT) Teaching program; consult with graduate students about their teaching; facilitate workshops for graduate students at TA Orientation and throughout the year; and assist CFT senior staff with various ongoing and short-term projects, including the creation of online resources for the Vanderbilt teaching community. Learn more about the GTF Program.
Teaching Affiliate
The primary responsibility for Teaching Affiliates is to lead a cohort of incoming Teaching Assistants (TAs) through a day-long workshop at August’s TA Orientation. These workshops familiarize new TAs with the challenges and opportunities of working as TAs at Vanderbilt and help prepare TAs for the first few weeks of class. Cohorts are divided by discipline, and so the CFT seeks Teaching Affiliates from a wide variety of disciplines on campus. The Teaching Affiliate position is a 70-hour position, with most of those hours occurring in August 2022.
CiCT Facilitator
The CiCT Program facilitator will, alongside the Graduate Teaching Fellows, lead a section of the CiCT program.  The facilitator will read and prepare lesson plans, lead class sessions, and attend weekly meetings with the GTFs.  When the CiCT program is in session (8 weeks per semester), the approximate workload will be between 5-10 hrs/week.
These positions are great opportunities for graduate students to refine their teaching and presentation skills and network with graduate students outside of their department or program
Applications for all three types of positions are due Friday, February 11, 2022.
Learn more about each of these positions and apply online by visiting the CFT's employment opportunities page.
Junior Faculty Spotlight: 
Adeana McNicholl
Each year, the CFT highlights the work of our Junior Faculty Teaching Fellows. This month, Adeana McNicholl, Religious Studies, talks about some of the lessons she has gained from the Fellowship on the CFT blog.
I am an Assistant Professor of Buddhist Traditions in the Religious Studies department. My research focuses on Buddhism in ancient South Asia and Buddhism in the United States. In my scholarship and teaching, I aim to identify and decenter colonial frameworks of knowledge about religion. In the religious studies classroom, I encourage my students to hone their skills in critical analysis of religion in the public sphere. My students learn that arguments about religion are never neutral and that defining religion does real work in the world. We consider who has the power to define religion, what is at stake when those definitions are made, and how narratives about religion are bound up in histories of colonialism and imperialism, policing, surveillance, and exclusion.
Through the JFTF program, I designed a new course offering for Spring 2022, “Asian and Asian-American Religions in the U.S.” A central thesis for this course is that Asian and Asian American religious history is American religious history.
13 Faculty Awarded
Internal Grants for Teaching

The Office of the Provost has announced the second round of grant recipients for the Course Improvement Grant and Educational Advancement Fund that was established in March. Thirteen faculty members across six of Vanderbilt’s schools and colleges will receive support for their teaching.
The Educational Advancement Fund provides faculty with additional funds to support excellence in the classroom through continued pedagogical advancement and long-term educational transformation. The Course Improvement Grants aim to promote excellence in teaching within a single course (or course section). 
For more information about the teaching grants, including eligibility standards, proposal requirements and funding guidelines, visit the program website. For a list of the  inaugural round of grant recipients and details about their projects, visit the CFT website. The next funding round will occur in spring 2022.

Educational Advancement Fund

  • Tucker Biddlecombe, associate professor of choral studies; “Choral library: Modernizing for equity”
  • Lily Claiborne, principal senior lecturer in earth and environmental sciences; “Learning through community engagement in earth and environmental sciences”
  • Raheleh Filsoofi, assistant professor of art; “Clay 3D printer: Bridging art and technology at Vanderbilt”
  • Julie Johnson, professor of the practice of computer science; “Measuring the impact of peer review on learning gains”
  • Neil Kelley, assistant professor of earth and environmental sciences; “Revitalizing Vanderbilt EES teaching collections for the 21st century”
  • Marci Zsamboky, assistant professor of nursing; “Utilizing a trauma-informed care approach to nurse practitioner education”

Course Improvement Grant

  • Pengfei Li, senior lecturer in Asian studies; “Empowering students through digital games”
  • Brenda McKenzie, associate professor of the practice of leadership, policy and organizations; “Applying developmental understanding to student initiatives for underserved populations”
  • Ryan Middagh, assistant professor of jazz studies; “Jazz and global ensemble recording of new works”
  • Patrick Murphy, senior lecturer in Spanish; “VR in world languages”
  • Bethany Nickel, assistant professor of music; “Music classroom technology unit for MUED 3010”
  • Savanna Starko, senior lecturer in physics and astronomy; “The physics of yoga: Connecting body to mind”
  • Joshua White, assistant professor of finance; “Teaching assistant–case study”
Celebrating 100 Episodes of the Leading Lines Podcast
Leading Lines posted its first episode, an interview with George Siemens, in July 2016. On November 15th, the podcast celebrated episode 100, featuring an interview with Vanderbilt alumna Zoe LeBlanc.
Through interviews with educators, researchers, technologists, and others, the podcast amplifies ideas and voices that are (or should be!) shaping how we think about digital learning and digital pedagogy. 
Episodes cover many elements of the educational technology landscape, from digital literacy to active learning classrooms to massive open online courses to teaching with games. If you are new to the podcast, see producer Derek Bruff’s blog post highlighting a few favorite episodes.
To hear other podcast episodes you've missed, visit the Leading Lines website, search for “Leading Lines” in iTunes, or subscribe via RSS.  You can also follow us on Twitter, @LeadingLinesPod.
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