Surprise! It’s October!

SurprisedCatIs it just me, or is the semester going by really fast? (Note: I have posed this rhetorical question at the five-week mark of every semester in my teaching career.) As we stagger make our way toward midterms, our classes are finding their rhythms–their patterns and identity–as we and our students become more familiar with one another and with the work at hand. In many cases, this is a really positive development; students have gelled with one another, discussions have become less stilted and more open and honest, and we’re finally able to remember everyone’s name. But in some instances, the rhythm isn’t established yet. Or the class has taken on less-than-ideal characteristics–students are sullen, or belligerent, or just plain flat. If you’re in that spot (and, honestly, who among us hasn’t been?), the good news is there’s still time to turn things around. In some cases, the answer to our problems is to relax the reins a little bit, especially if discussion is the main area in which our class is struggling. It may seem counter-intuitive, but letting go may be the answer to regaining pedagogical balance. Have we over-planned? Are we creating structures that stifle students rather than empower them? Do they have room to try (and maybe even fail) to accomplish the course goals? In this thoughtful essay, Chris Friend explores what it means to “let go,” listen to our students, and let them wander rather than channel them into specific places. Sometimes the way to regain control is to give it up.

Hitting the SGIDs:  The SGID, or Small Group Instructional Diagnosis, is a service CETL provides to assist instructors in gathering evaluative data to improve teaching and learning in their courses, while still having time to do so during the semester. Once you request a SGID visit, our trained staff assists you in creating questions that you would like to ask your students. A CETL staff member then visits your class for thirty minutes while you leave the room and collects anonymous answers to your questions. They gather the feedback into a confidential report for you, and then a follow-up meeting works through this formative assessment and assists you in developing a plan to address the feedback you’ve received. You thus have an opportunity to go back to your students to reinforce your class learning goals while addressing student concerns. SGIDs are a valuable tool to “take the pulse” of a course and make any necessary adjustments while a majority of the semester still remains. (Note: all data and feedback is completely confidential, and used only for the collaboration between instructors and CETL.) If you’re interested in this service, contact Kevin Gannon at 263-6102 or email to schedule a visit.

Looking Back, Looking Ahead: Are you rethinking elements of your course design? Are you designing a new course for the coming academic terms? Are you teaching a blended or online course? This year, CETL is sponsoring a Teaching Circle centered around course design. We’ll meet regularly for conversation and collaboration, using Wiggins and McTighe’s Understanding by Design as our  jumping-off point. We’ll also work within a Universal Design framework; if you’re curious about what Universal Design for Learning (UDL) looks like in practice, here’s a good primer. Several faculty and staff have already joined, but there’s still time to get on board. Email Kevin Gannon if you’re interested.

Teaching a Course with an Information Literacy (IL) Outcome? Join CETL and our outstanding Library staff for a workshop on “Incorporating Information Literacy into Teaching” on Wednesday, October 7, at 4:00 PM in Krumm 26 (West Computer Lab). This session will be chock-full of information and strategies you can use to implement IL in your courses; if you’re teaching a class with an IL outcome, you’ll find this session enormously helpful!

Check Your Privilege: What does this mean for educators? How are relations of power and privilege embedded and reproduced in higher education, and what can we do about it? As part of Global Visions Week, the next installment of CETL’s Conversations on Teaching will look at these questions and more, unpacking some of the ways in which we and our students interact with one another. It’s a challenging, but essential, set of issues for us to confront. We hope you’ll join us on Wednesday, October 14, at 4:0 PM in Rasmussen 217 for provocative and thoughtful conversations!

And Now for Something Completely Different: Look! It’s every research paper cliché ever written! This essay is perfect.

From the Historians’ Files: The earliest recorded usage of the F-bomb. Admit it–you always wondered where it came from.


Looking for resources? Ideas? Help?

Click here for this week’s CETL Library Spotlight

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Wondering how to dress your pet for Halloween? Click here for some ideas.


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