August 2018
New and Continuing Learning Communities at the CFT
The Center for Teaching hosts a number of learning communities, intended for members of Vanderbilt’s teaching community interested in meeting over time to develop deeper understandings and richer practices around particular teaching and learning topics.  This year’s learning communities are:

Teaching, Difference, and Power: Empowering International Students and Faculty
This year, the CFT continues its attention to issues of teaching, difference, and power by organizing a learning community dedicated to understanding and supporting the needs of international students and faculty. The hope for the group is to have a dynamic discussion of the many issues that arise for international students and faculty in the U.S. classroom, and the teaching approaches that may help both to thrive. The learning community meetings will involve informal discussions of pedagogical readings, teaching challenges, and practical strategies for improving our teaching and learning.
The learning community will be open to both faculty and graduate students and will meet several times throughout the academic year.

Teaching Digital Literacies
How can we prepare students for a world where they both consume and produce media in a variety of digital forms? In this learning community, we will explore ways to teach digital literacies, the skills and competencies students need to thoughtfully learn, participate in, and contribute to our digital and multimedia culture.
  • How can we help students become more critical consumers of information on social media?
  • How can we design authentic, multimodal assignments that prepare students to communicate effectively online?
  • How can we encourage students to engage in civil and productive dialogue in digital environments?
  • How can we collaborate with others to teach students skills we ourselves are still learning?
We’ll consider these and other questions through a series of conversations this year at the Center for Teaching.

Active Learning
Active learning approaches improve students’ learning and have been shown to reduce disparities between different student subgroups. This leaning community will explore the principles behind effective active learning and will work together to develop individualized approaches for participants’ courses.

Teaching Design Thinking
Design thinking, also called human-centered design, is an approach to creative problem solving useful in a wide variety of contexts. The learning community will be particularly useful for faculty and staff working with students in curricular or co-curricular contexts as part of Vanderbilt’s DIVE (Design as an Immersive Vanderbilt Experience) initiative, but all members of the Vanderbilt community interested in teaching design thinking are welcome to participate.
Grad and Postdoc Programs at the CFT
Two Center for Teaching programs for graduate students and postdocs are now taking registrations for the fall. Each program consists of a seminar and a practicum, and each lasts two semesters. The first program is the Certificate in College Teaching (CiCT). This program focuses on the research on how people learn as well as best teaching practices, preparing participants for future teaching roles in the academy. For more information and to register, please see our Certificate in College Teaching webpage.
The second program is the Certificate in Humanities Teaching & Learning (CHTL), which is open to humanities graduate students and postdocs. Participants will explore and develop teaching skills that promote learning within a diverse student body across a variety of settings—with an emphasis on the particularities of teaching historically underrepresented populations, including first-generation college students and students of color, and a specific humanities discipline as part of a liberal arts curriculum on small private and/or historically black campuses. For more information and to register, please see our Certificate in Humanities Teaching & Learning webpage. 
Vanderbilt Instructors Open Their Classroom Doors on
September 24, 25 and 26
Would you like to watch one of your colleagues teach to see how they manage the classroom, engage students, or address challenging subjects? Do you ever feel like you toil in private to learn how to teach? You’re not alone.
Too often in higher education we instructors do not have the opportunity to watch and discuss each other’s teaching, and therefore we struggle in what Lee Shulman has called, “pedagogical solitude.” The Center for Teaching has long worked to change this isolation by creating occasions for pedagogical community.
For a third year, we are proud to offer three intensive days of teaching visits. On September 24 - 26, classes taught by some of the most thoughtful and intentional teachers across Vanderbilt’s many disciplines will open their classroom doors to faculty and graduate students.
Each day will highlight a focus area:
  • Engaging students in large classes
    (Monday, September 24th)
  • Teaching writing
    (Tuesday, September 25th)
  • Teaching inclusively
    (Wednesday, September 26th)
Each of the three days will conclude with a reception and discussion at 4pm in the Jean and Alexander Heard Library Community Room.
Save the date! The Open Classroom will be September 24-26. A list of open classes will be announced soon.
CFT Proudly Welcomes the
2018 Cohort of
Junior Faculty Teaching Fellows!
Left to Right: Leon Bellan (Mechanical Engineering), Sophie Bjork-James (Anthropology), Brandon Byrd (History), Joshua Caldwell (Mechanical Engineering), Ashley Carse (Human and Organizational Development), Susan Douglas (Leadership, Policy and Organizations), Issam Eido (Religious Studies), Uttam Ghosh (Electrical Engineering & Computer Science), Kejia Hu (Owen), Taylor Johnson (Electrical Engineering & Computer Science), Neil Kelley (Earth & Environmental Sciences), Yolanda McDonald (Human and Organizational Development), Brenda McKenzie (Leadership, Policy and Organization), Sara Safransky (Human and Organizational Development), Elizabeth Self (Teaching & Learning), Sarah Suiter (Human and Organizational Development), and Yuankai Tao (Biomedical Engineering)
The Junior Faculty Teaching Fellowship provides its recipients with a structured faculty development experience complete with consultations, course design seminar, peer education, and senior faculty mentorship. This program not only helps its fellows develop an understanding of best teaching practices across the disciplines, but also assists them in their professional growth by helping them hone their abilities to balance teaching and research, improve their materials for review, and build a collaborative culture of teaching at Vanderbilt. The Center for Teaching thanks the School of Engineering and Peabody College for additional funding for this year’s fellows.
Over the coming months, the CFT newsletter will highlight the work of this year's Junior Faculty Teaching Fellows. Each month two fellows will be featured discussing their teaching philosophies and interests.
Teaching at Vanderbilt New Faculty Orientation
At the beginning of every academic year, the Center for Teaching hosts “Teaching at Vanderbilt,” an orientation for junior and senior faculty new to Vanderbilt.
The orientation features an introduction to strategies for launching a successful teaching career at Vanderbilt, with concurrent sessions on a variety of practical topics. Teaching at Vanderbilt is an opportunity for new faculty to meet each other and to learn how the Center for Teaching can support them throughout their Vanderbilt careers. See orientation page for details.
Date: Thursday, August 16th
Time: 1:30-5:00pm
Location: Buttrick Hall


August Brightspace Workshops and Drop-in Hours
In our hands-on workshops, participants will learn about Vanderbilt’s course management system, Brightspace. In addition to these workshops, you can get individual help during drop-in hours at the CFT or by appointment in a one-on-one consult with one of our instructional technologists. Email us at or check out this collection of step-by-step guides for help getting started. Workshops topic include:

Introduction to Brightspace
(for true beginners)
In this hands-on workshop for people who have no experience teaching with Brightspace, participants will get oriented to Vanderbilt’s course management system and learn how to accomplish common teaching tasks. Bring your own laptop computer so you can explore and build content in our test course! By the end of the session, participants will be able to
-Confidently navigate the different areas of a Brightspace course
-Post, edit, and copy content for students using a variety of tools
-Communicate with students about important Brightspace tools

Getting the Most out of Brightspace
(for faculty using Brightspace again)
In this hands-on workshop for people who have already taught with Brightspace, participants will explore a few key functions and cool tools that Brightspace offers. Bring your questions and your own laptop computer so you can explore and build content in our test course! By the end of the session, participants will be able to
-Use a variety of conditional release tools to make sure the right students see the right content at the right times.
-Personalize their course homepage, navigation, and class progress views to suit their own preferences
-Communicate with students about and through important Brightspace tools

Creating & Grading Assignments
In this hands-on workshop, participants will learn about creating assignment submission folders and providing feedback on those assignments on Brightspace. Bring your own laptop so you can explore and build content in our test course! By the end of the session, users will be able to
-Create an assignment on Brightspace and navigate the different options for assignments
-Assess student submissions using one of 5 available grading and feedback tools
-Communicate with students about how to view assignment grades and feedback in Brightspace
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