. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . September 2016 Newsletter 

Two Days of Teaching Visits

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. 
This year we are proud to offer a new spin on our typical teaching visits program by organizing Open Dores: Two Days of Teaching Visits.  On September 27th and 28th there will be thirty-eight classes open to visitors (faculty and graduate students) and taught by some of the most well-respected and awarded teachers across Vanderbilt’s many disciplines.  From The Sociology of Religion to Systems Physiology, from Existential Fictions to the Politics of Public Policy, a wide range of engaging courses will be open to help you think about different methods of teaching. 
If you are interested in visiting one of these open classes, please take a look at list of courses on the program website and register for whichever class best suits your schedule and curiosities.  Then be sure to come to the Open Dores Reception on Wednesday, September 28th, from 3:30pm to 4:30pm in the Heard Library Community Room.  There the hosts, visitors, and CFT staff/faculty will have an opportunity to reflect on their teaching and celebrate Vanderbilt’s pedagogical community.

Graduate Student Workshop: Crafting an Effective Teaching Statement

In this workshop, we will address best practices for writing a teaching statement/philosophy for the academic job market. This workshop is open to Vanderbilt graduate students & Postdocs from across the disciplines who want to improve their teaching portfolio materials. All teaching experience levels are welcome.

Date: Thursday, September 29th
Time: 3:00-4:30pm

Location: CFT Classroom
Facilitators: Lydia Bentley and Alexis McBride, Graduate Teaching Fellows

Register Here

CFT Announces New Graduate Teaching Fellows!

Left to Right: Lydia Bentley (Teaching and Learning), Ryan Bowen (Teaching and Learning), Michael R. Fisher, Jr. (Religion), and Alexis McBride
Spanish & Portuguese)
The Center for Teaching is excited to announce the Graduate Teaching Fellows for 2016-17. GTFs provide a variety of services for Vanderbilt’s graduate, post docs and professional students, including one-on-one consultations on teaching issues and professional development, syllabus and course design, interpreting and responding to student evaluations, writing teaching statements, and engaging techniques such as discussion leading, lecturing, and using technology in the classroom.
In addition to fostering initiatives such as the Certificate in College Teaching program and the Certificate in Humanities Teaching & Learning program, they also create and facilitate Teaching Assistant OrientationTeaching Workshops, and help facilitate/support CFT learning communities and working groups.
To schedule an appointment with a GTF, please call 322-7290. 

Blackboard Drop-in Sessions for September

Blackboard Support at the CFT will be offering drop-in training and support for the fall  semester for faculty, graduate students, and staff using Blackboard. Come get technical and pedagogical support from a team of Blackboard specialists during our drop-in support hours. Feel free to bring any questions or issues you want to resolve.

September Drop-in Hours

Monday              9/12      2-4pm

Monday              9/19      2-4pm

Monday              9/29     2-4pm

Mid-Semester Student Feedback

The feedback students provide about your teaching on their end-of-semester course evaluations can be valuable in helping you improve and refine your teaching.  Soliciting mid-semester student feedback has the additional benefit of allowing you to hear your students’ concerns while there is still time in the semester to make appropriate changes.  A Small Group Analysis (SGA) takes this one step further by involving a CFT consultant to help.
An SGA is a method of gathering anonymous feedback from students about what is helping them learn and what is not, in a course.  This service is an excellent way to assess students’ response to your teaching mid-semester.  The SGA results will remain completely confidential—only you and the CFT consultant will see them.

Our website has more information on our SGA service.  To schedule an SGA, simply call the CFT at 322-7290.  And if you’re interested in gathering feedback from your students on your own, please see our “Gathering Feedback from Students” teaching guide for ideas and tools.
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Junior Faculty Spotlight:
Melanie Adley

Each month, the CFT Newsletter highlights the work of our Junior Faculty Teaching Fellows. This month, Melanie Adley, Women's and Gender Studies, talks about her teaching philosophy and interests.
I am the Associate Director of and a Senior Lecturer in the Women's and Gender Studies at Vanderbilt. I teach a variety of courses ranging from intro-level undergraduate gender and LGBT studies, to graduate-level feminist pedagogy. I am committed to feminist pedagogy and decentered learning, a commitment which draws from an early scholarly interest in highlighting unexpected forms of agency, refusal, and relating for marginalized and typically silenced voices.
Teaching has always been a priority of mine. I cultivated my approach in the language classroom over the course of eight years, before focusing primarily on the gender, sexuality, and women’s studies classroom at Dickinson College, the University of Pennsylvania, and now Vanderbilt. My previous language teaching experience, careful pedagogical training at Penn, and investment in feminist and queer methods result in a classroom—be it a language, culture, literature, or gender, sexuality, and women’s studies classroom—where students actively work with and implement knowledge.
My teaching has become my research. I am dedicated to practically realizing spaces and policies on college campuses that make higher education accessible to all students. I use an intersectional approach to investigate ways to destabilize dominant, marginalizing narratives in curriculum and to radicalize pedagogical practices that would result in classrooms where every student would participate in critical analysis and world changing.
As a fellow I am looking forward to working with members of the CFT team to create a community-based learning component to a course I regularly teach, WGS 1160, Sex & Society. The course is an introduction to Women’s and Gender Studies, an investigation of how certain identities are rendered inferior in normative, mainstream culture and thereby made vulnerable to power-based and sexual violence, and, ultimately, a case study of sexual violence on college campuses, in particular Vanderbilt. As currently organized, it already involves smaller community-inspired projects, but I want to better weave throughout the semester a structured service and community project.

The CFT Welcomes New Instructional Technologist, Brandon Crawford

We’re excited to welcome Brandon Crawford as the CFT’s newest Instructional Technologist.  Brandon brings a variety of technical and web development skills to the CFT team.  Brandon comes to us from Howard University, where he recently completed a Bachelor’s degree in computer information systems.  Brandon worked at Howard’s Center for Excellence in Teaching, Learning, and Assessment, providing support and training for instructors using Howard’s course management system, Blackboard. Brandon will continue that work at Vanderbilt as part of the Center for Teaching’s Blackboard team.  Please join me in welcoming Brandon to Vanderbilt.

New CFT Guides Cover a Variety of Teaching Topics

The CFT offers guides on a variety of teaching topics in which we synthesize research on student learning and effective teaching practices.Listed below are a few of the guides we’ve recently developed. You can browse a complete list on the CFT website.
Leveraging Travel Abroad: Collecting and Teaching with Authentic Resources
If students in your Nashville classroom were able to travel abroad, their education would be enriched and their understanding refined.  Authentic teaching resources you collect abroad are one way enhance student learning.  Learn more...
Teaching with Digital Timelines
Thanks to tools like Tiki-Toki, you and your students can produce online, interactive timelines with relative ease, even collaborating on a shared timeline that can vary from a single day to decades, a person’s life, or even non-traditional scales like page numbers in a novel. 
Learn more...
Active Learning
Active learning is commonly defined as activities that students do to construct knowledge and understanding. The activities vary but require students to do higher order thinking and can range from very short, easily designed
activities to longer and more elaborate activities. Learn more...
Group Work
How do you develop structures that allow you to incorporate key elements that lead to productive group work? The literature on cooperative learning is a rich resource for answers to that question, and this guide summarizes much of that literature and provides examples of strategies and tools that can help make your group work rewarding and effective. 
Learn more...
Teaching Beyond the Gender Binary in the University Classroom
Students on campuses across the country have become increasingly vocal in pushing back against binary thinking with respect to gender identity and expression. Even for those who don’t teach courses that are explicitly related to themes of gender and identity, there are still opportunities to design gender-inclusive courses.
Learn more...
Learning and Course Management Systems
Learning and course management systems are online learning platforms used either to provide a digital supplement for a traditional classroom or to host an online course. This guide will bring clarity about the definitions, use, and possibilities of such systems for both instructors and students, including a list of best practices for classroom technology integration. Learn more...
Teaching with Blogs
When writing for blogs, students can experiment and interact digitally in a relaxed and low-risk environment. Blogs can be an excellent balance between the rigor and structure of a formal written assignment and the freedom to experiment with ideas and arguments.
Learn more...
The CFT has an ongoing process of revising existing guides and developing new ones so keep your eyes open for announcements here and on the CFT blog. If you have any questions or comments, or if we can help facilitate a conversation using any of our guides, please contact us at 322-7290.

Evidence-Based STEM Teaching: Free Online Courses Launch September 19th

The Center for Teaching, in collaboration with colleagues from several other universities, is offering two free online courses on evidence-based STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) teaching this fall. Both courses launch on Monday, September 19th, with course materials available in preview mode on September 15th. If you are a current or future STEM faculty member at Vanderbilt or elsewhere, you are invited to enroll in one or both courses!
An Introduction to Evidence-Based Undergraduate STEM Teaching is designed to provide future STEM faculty, graduate students and post-doctoral fellows with an introduction to effective teaching strategies and the research that supports them.
Advancing Learning through Evidence-Based STEM Teaching will provide graduate students and post-doctoral fellows in the STEM disciplines with an introduction to “teaching as research”—the deliberate, systematic, and reflective use of research methods to develop and implement teaching practices that advance the learning experiences and outcomes of both students and teachers. 
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