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A Culture of Care >> Read Smith’s plans for the fall 2021 semester.

Teaching Circles

Teaching Circles
 

Every semester, the Sherrerd Center sponsors a variety of Teaching Circles in which faculty and teaching staff come together to discuss a teaching topic of shared interest. These have proven especially useful over the past several years, and we encourage faculty and staff members to consider leading or participating in a Teaching Circle this semester. The Sherrerd Center arranges for Teaching Circles to meet on some specific Fridays from 12:20 until 1:15 p.m with lunch available beforehand (so please RSVP on the forms below, so we have an accurate count for lunch). We also support additional Teaching Circles that meet on their own schedule and will also help arrange circles over Zoom. 


Fall 2021 Teaching Circles dates:
 

  • October 1, 2021 - Circles meet in Neilson Browsing, Ford Hall, and on Zoom.
  • October 29, 2021 - Circles meet in Neilson Browsing, Ford Hall, and on Zoom.
  • December 10, 2021 - Circles meet in the Campus Center, Ford Hall, and on Zoom.

If you are interested in leading a circle, please email and let us know the topic or title and a brief description of the circle. Check back for circles and descriptions being offered this fall. 


Teaching Ideas for Team-based or Heavy-project-based Applied Courses (in person)
with Susannah Howe (EGR), Megan Lyster (Wurtele Center)
Meets on Sherrerd Friday Circle Dates (10/1, 10/29, and 12/10). *Will start around 12:20 pm and end by 1:10 pm.
This Teaching Circle is an opportunity for anyone teaching team-based courses or courses oriented around a significant student project (capstone or otherwise) to share experiences, think together through questions, and discuss best practices.
RSVP


Teaching Languages Circle (in person)
with Ilona Sotnikova (REEES), Maureen DeNino (FRN)
Meets on Sherrerd Friday Circle Dates (10/1, 10/29, and 12/10).  
The language teaching circle provides an informal space for language educators to share tips and techniques and discuss ongoing challenges related to teaching during a pandemic. Participants meet and stay connected with colleagues from outside their own departments and develop ways to promote world language learning further at Smith.
RSVP


The New Normal? Teaching in Fall 2021 with a particular focus on equitable and inclusive pedagogies (in person)
with Patty DiBartolo (PSY)
Meets on Sherrerd Friday Circle Dates (10/1, 10/29, and 12/10).  
These two circles (each led by a teaching mentor) will create a space to discuss the complexities of what it means to teach well in the current historical and cultural context. We provide opportunities for attendees to share lessons carried from remote learning, address teaching challenges as we shift back to campus, and build our capacity to foster equity for and with students. 
RSVP


The New Normal? Teaching in Fall 2021 with a particular focus on disabilities and learning differences (over Zoom)
with Caroline Melly (ANT)
Meets on Sherrerd Friday Circle Dates (10/1, 10/29, and 12/10) over Zoom.  
These two circles (each led by a teaching mentor) will create a space to discuss the complexities of what it means to teach well in the current historical and cultural context. We provide opportunities for attendees to share lessons carried from remote learning, address teaching challenges as we shift back to campus, and build our capacity to foster equity for and with students. 
RSVP


Science Ethics Circle (in person)
with Betsy Jamieson (CHM)
Meets on Sherrerd Friday Circle Dates (10/1, 10/29, and 12/10) in Ford Hall.  
The Science Ethics Circle would like to create a course focused on what ethical questions might be encountered in the field of science research. We will target this to CHM/BCH/BIO/NSC types of students, but other science students might also be interested. Starting with “what is ethics” and getting students to acknowledge values - introduce concepts and frameworks that we keep coming back to - explore various aspects with case studies and some role playing to really force students to engage with the topics.
RSVP


Creative Writing Salon Teaching Circle (in person)
with Gillian Kendall (ENG)
Meets on Thursday, 10/21, 5:00-6:30 pm
Is your Muse limping through the semester? Is it soaring? Do you want to spend some time talking about writing? Join us in the Boutelle-Day Poetry Center (you can stay for as long as you like). If you are a faculty member who writes poetry, fiction or creative nonfiction, we’d love to welcome you (or welcome you back). We talk about current or past projects, the writing process and how the semester’s going. Sometimes we read bits of our work. Sometimes we don’t. We also have high hopes about excellent refreshments. 
RSVP


Humanities and Social Sciences Labs Teaching Circle (in person)
with Josh Birk (MED/HST), Kayla Cheneba (Provost’s Office)
Meets on [TBD M/W likely] *Will start around 12:15 - 1:05 in Seelye 411
This teaching circle is focused on the Humanities and Social Sciences Labs, which are in year one of a 3 year pilot program. The goal for these circles is to support the faculty leading labs, making space to share feedback to help improve HSS labs, create resources, and offering mentoring opportunities to faculty within the cohort who are newer to running labs. Participants not yet involved with HSS labs will be invited later in the year to learn more about running labs in the humanities and social sciences and to support anyone interested in applying to start their own lab.

Past Teaching Circles

Spring Circles 2021:

Creative Writing Salon with Gillian Kendall
Tuesday, May 18, 2021; 5:00 - 6:30 pm

You are all most heartily welcome to this (virtual) writing get-together! This salon will launch you into the creative work of the summer, and hopefully will either further stimulate your various Muses or get them back to work again after a long semester. Please join in celebrating your creative endeavors.  It will be marvelous to hear what you’ve been up to and what plans you might have.  Save the date. 


This Week in Teaching with Alicia Grubb and Miranda McCarvel
Meets on Sherrerd Schedule: Fridays 3/5, 3/19, 4/16, and 5/7 at 12:30 pm

Remember the first ten minutes of TALs before we went remote...we could have lunch and talk about how our week has gone. This low-stakes teaching circle will gather to connect over the ups and downs of the semester and surprises along the way. We especially welcome new and junior faculty who are feeling overwhelmed. We can't guarantee solutions but we hope to offer a space for casual pedagogical discussion.


Lab Instructors Circle with Marney Pratt
Friday, March 5th and later date TBA

This Teaching Circle is an opportunity for lab instructors (and anyone else who teaches lab courses) to get together and talk across disciplines about teaching lab courses.


Talking Through Remote Teaching: Creating Community, Accountability, Flexibility with Caroline Melly
Friday, March 5th and Friday, April 16th

Together we will discuss how remote teaching can enrich student learning and how we might connect with students more effectively in the age of social distancing and use these unusual circumstances to foster new relations and new insights.


Language Teaching Circle with Ilona Sotnikova
Tuesdays, March 2nd, March 16th, April 13th, and May 4th from 12:30-1:30 pm

During the spring semester, this language teaching circle provides a space for language educators to discuss the challenges of remote language teaching and learning and ways to deal with them/ tackle them. This circle will help us share our ideas, develop ways to promote world language learning further and stay connected.


Africana and African Studies Course Teaching Circle with Daphe LaMothe
Friday, May 7th

2020 was the 50th anniversary of Black Studies at Smith College. Combined with the recent Black Studies hires across the college, this milestone offers a perfect opportunity for us to come together to discuss our collective vision for the Africana and Africana Studies curricula. Join your colleagues in AFR to share ideas and information about teaching Africana and African Studies courses.


Contingent Faculty Teaching Circle with Bona Kang and Caitlin Shepherd

Do you wish to find community and support as a temporary worker at Smith in a time of remote work and teaching? Get connected with others in the same position at our spring semester teaching circle.This Teaching Circle meets during the Smith lunch hour (12:30-1:30pm US Eastern Time) on four Thursdays: 3/4, 3/18, 4/15, 5/6. Please RSVP for this Teaching Circle here (Google Calendar invitations with Zoom links will be provided when you sign up). For questions, please contact Caitlin Shepherd (cshepherd@smith.edu) and Bona Kang (bkang@smith.edu). 


Fall 2020 Teaching Circle Topics included the following:

  • Talking Through Remote Teaching: Creating Community, Accountability, Flexibility
  • Contingent Faculty Teaching Circle
  • First Year Seminar Faculty Teaching Circle
  • Laboratory Instructors Teaching Circle
  • Talking Through J-term Teaching 

 

Spring 2020 Teaching Circles

New Weekly Teaching Circles Beginning on Friday, April 3–Friday, April 24 via Zoom

Please feel free to “drop in” for as few or as many of these as feels useful to you. No obligation here. We want to provide as much support for our faculty as we can without adding to your already overfull plates.
 


Pedagogy through Zoom
Liz Pryor (History)

Got Zoom? Now that you use Zoom in your class, what can you accomplish with it? Together we will discuss how using this (new to most of us) technology can enrich student learning and how we might connect with them more effectively in the age of social distancing.


The SOCIAL constructivist hour
Al Rudnitsky (Education and Child Study)

With the emphasis on social. We’re in this together, so let’s check in. How’s it going? R. Keith Sawyer refers to good teaching as disciplined improvisation. Any surprises so far? Any stories to tell? I’m guessing that we’ll also have time to talk about teaching and learning.


Considering student well-being in the "remote" classroom
Sara Pruss (Geosciences)

How can we make sure to engage our students in their new learning environments? How can we provide check-ins as part of our course meetings, synchronously and asynchronously?


Teaching in/with crisis
Caroline Melly (Anthropology)

How can this moment of crisis create learning opportunities for students and faculty alike? How might teaching in crisis embolden us to rethink our usual pedagogical approaches, take new risks, and develop resilience? How can we bring global events into our virtual classrooms in productive ways? And how can we use these unusual circumstances to foster new relations and new insights?


Critical conversations in online classrooms
Peggy O’Neill (School for Social Work)

Are there challenging dynamics happening in your online classroom related to interpersonal interactions that reflect societal and structural power dynamics?  Within the larger world crisis, it makes sense that such dynamics will be active on interpersonal levels. We will discuss your experiences and consult on ways to engage power dynamics constructively and even enhance dynamic learning over Zoom. 


Remote teaching while contingent
Tian An Wong (Math and Statistics)
Bona Kang (Education and Child Study)

Do you feel more isolated than ever as a temporary worker at Smith in a time of remote work and online learning? Are you curious about how other contingent labourers are coping with all of this social distance? Get connected with others in the same position. Please RSVP for this circle here.


Important Note: Teaching Circles Below Are Canceled From 3/17 Through the End of the Spring Semester.

Inclusive Teaching in STEM Gateway Courses - meets on Teaching Circle Fridays
Kevin Shea (Chemistry)

Inclusive teaching practices focus on strategies to provide all of our students opportunities to succeed in the classroom. This teaching circle will focus on applying these methods in our introductory and intermediate (often large) STEM courses. Students in these classes come from highly diverse backgrounds, and success in gateway courses promotes diversity in our majors and in opportunities after Smith. What can we do in course design and instruction to promote understanding and engagement in our classes. How can we engage students as partners in our work? What inclusive practices are others at Smith experimenting with? What can we learn from our colleagues outside of Smith? These are some of the questions we will explore.


Constructing Critical Conversations in your Classroom: Creating Change - meets on Teaching Circle Fridays 
Peggy O’Neill (School for Social Work)

This teaching circle is for those who attended the January 2020 Critical Conversations Faculty Development series as they apply the dialogic practice to their classrooms. The Critical Conversations (CC) model provides a framework for facilitating conversations to directly and constructively engage immediate discussions of power and privilege, oppression, and structural inequalities active in the classroom. Although such issues often activate emotional tension and conflict in classrooms, they can produce fruitful dialogue that fosters critical analysis when facilitated effectively. The CC model, grounded in dialogic learning principles provides a pathway for faculty and students to deconstruct how power dynamics that perpetuate inequities across relationships and structures are enacted within their immediate conversation and explore the inherent relationship to the content of the course.


Teaching with Multiple Pedagogies in Traditional and Flat Floored Classrooms - meets on Teaching Circle Fridays
Shannon Audley (Education and Child Study)

Do you lecture and do small group activities within a given class period? Do you facilitate discussion but also use breakout groups? This teaching circle is open to all faculty who use, have used, or are interested in using multiple pedagogies within a given class period. We will exchange ideas about what pedagogies we pair together, what is effective (or not), and how classroom space (such as teaching in a flexible classroom such as Seelye 301 or 106 and McConnell B05 versus a more traditional classroom like Seelye 101) and technology facilitates or inhibits our pedagogical goals.


Sharing Current Teaching Ideas/Challenges - meets on Teaching Circle Fridays
Nicholas Howe (Engineering)

It can be very useful to have the chance to share current teaching challenges with colleagues, getting their ideas and bouncing your own off a sympathetic and experienced sounding board.  Often just the act of articulating a teaching challenge in front of a group can be beneficial, even before you get suggestions and feedback.


Teaching Engaged Global Citizens - meets on Teaching Circle Fridays 2/21 and 3/13
Marguerite Itamar Harrison (Spanish and Portugese)

Smith’s mission directs students to be engaged global citizens. What does it mean for us to commit to this mission on our campus, from across disciplines and divisions? What are the methods, contents and pedagogical techniques that better prepare our students for the world? This Teaching Circle is for all faculty members and staff who feel a commitment to this mission, and who wish to share curricular ideas and strategies for strengthening our international and global outreach in the classroom.


Teaching while Contingent - meets 2/20, 3/23, 4/2, and 4/17
Tian An Wong (Math & Statistics)
Bona Kang (Education)

This teaching circle welcomes precarious academic laborers at Smith, open to all contingent staff and faculty on short-term non-negotiable contracts. The class stratification of tenure, tenure-track, and adjunct faculty at Smith is largely invisible, while statistics reveal the increasing and indispensable "precariat" across the board in the US academy. We will discuss teaching and other work whilst navigating Smith as a foreign and temporary environment, centering the experiences of racial, ethnic, sexual, gender, and national minorities. What resources are available to us? What methods of coping and acclimating have others found effective? What emotional labor is required of us that is not valued by potential future employers? In what ways are we complicit in the structural inequalities that persist in the institution?  Through these conversations, we hope to develop a community of support as we learn from one another’s experiences. Please sign up here to express interest in attending.


Collaborators Inside and Outside the Classroom - meets Tues., March 10, 12:15-1:15, Jandon Center for Community Engagement, Wright Hall, lower level, room 013 and Wed., April 15, 12:15-1:15, Smith Media Studios, 18 Henshaw Ave., Unit D
Charlene Shang Miller (Museum of Art)
Jon Caris (Spatial Analysis Lab)

This Teaching Circle brings together staff from a variety of campus resources (libraries, museums, labs, centers, etc.) who are collaborators in teaching and learning inside and outside the classroom. In our meetings, we will discover our various sites, share pedagogy and approaches to integrating resources into the curriculum, build community through networking, and generate ideas for collaborations with faculty and students as well as each other.


Ethics in the Sciences Courses - meets in Ford Hall at lunch 2/14, 2/21, 3/13, 4/3, and 4/17
Stan Scordilis (Biological Sciences)

The Science Ethics Circle would like to create a course focused on what ethical questions might be encountered in the field of science research. We will likely target this to CHM/BCH/BIO/NSC types of students, but other science students might also be interested. Starting with “what is ethics” and getting students to acknowledge values - introduce concepts and frameworks that we keep coming back to - explore various aspects with case studies and some role playing to really force students to engage with the topics.


Creative Writing Salon - meets 3/12 from 4-6:30 in Poetry Center, other dates TBD
Andrea Stone (English Language & Literature)
Gillian Kendall (English Language & Literature)
Ruth Ozeki (English Language & Literature)

The Creative Writing Salon is an occasion for faculty and staff who are teaching and practicing creative writing to meet informally to discuss the things that interest and concern us—pedagogy, craft, and our own writing projects—and to share work as well. The Salon is for anyone who has some kind of creative writing practice and engages in some way with creative writing pedagogy.

The Salon is hosted by the English Department’s Creative Writing Committee and the Sherrerd Center for Teaching and Learning. We meet twice a semester for wine and cheese, and in the interim to use a Moodle site to stay connected.


Teaching "Blackness"/Black Atlantic/Africa and its Diaspora:  An Africana Studies Teaching Circle - will meet once during the semester on 4/17 (Campus Center TV Lounge, then breakout rooms)
Daphne Lamothe (Africana Studies)

In this teaching circle, faculty teaching courses having to do with racialized blackness in the U.S. and across the African/Black diaspora will gather together to discuss the strengths, challenges and opportunities for collaboration.


EAL Department Teaching Circle - will meet 2/11 and 3/31
Kim Kono (EAL)

EAL faculty discuss a wide range of topics about teaching and learning, including student motivation, quiet students, and study strategies for first and second-year language students. Sometimes, syllabi design is discussed along with the different approaches/philosophies faculty have toward this document and the ways that syllabi can support equity and inclusion in the classroom. Other topics include how to approach challenges and support students various abilities.


Conversation About Instructing Laboratory Classes - dates TBD for May (when classes end)
Marney Pratt (Biological Sciences)

This Teaching Circle is an opportunity for lab instructors (and anyone else who teaches lab courses) to get together and talk across disciplines about teaching lab courses.


Fall 2019 Teaching Circle Friday Meetings

  • Friday, September 13, 2019 - 12:15-1:15 pm (Lunch beginning at noon) - Campus Center Carroll Room
  • Friday, September 27, 2019 - 12:15-1:15 pm (Lunch beginning at noon) - Campus Center Carroll Room
  • Friday, October 11, 2019 - 12:15-1:15 pm (Lunch beginning at noon) - Campus Center Carroll Room
  • Friday, November 15, 2019 - 12:15-1:15 pm (Lunch beginning at noon) - Campus Center Carroll Room

Making Visible the Sometimes Invisible: Teaching and Learning with Disabilities at Smith
Caroline Melly (Anthropology)
Sara Pruss (Geosciences)

This semester, our goal is to review recent data and foster conversation about student and faculty experiences with disability, teaching, and learning at Smith. We hope to have a rich conversation with any member of our community who would like to join us. We have the ultimate goal of developing and offering a January workshop that focuses on disability and inclusive teaching at Smith, and we’d like to a sustain a conversation this Fall to make sure we incorporate as many perspectives as possible.


Inclusive Teaching in STEM Gateway Courses 
Kevin Shea (Chemistry)

Inclusive teaching practices focus on strategies to provide all of our students opportunities to succeed in the classroom. This teaching circle will focus on applying these methods in our introductory and intermediate (often large) STEM courses. Students in these classes come from highly diverse backgrounds, and success in gateway courses promotes diversity in our majors and in opportunities after Smith. What can we do in course design and instruction to promote understanding and engagement in our classes. How can we engage students as partners in our work? What inclusive practices are others at Smith experimenting with? What can we learn from our colleagues outside of Smith? These are some of the questions we will explore.


Smith Writes 
Julio Alves (Jacobson Center)
Richard Millington (English Language & Literature)

We have much to learn from one another as teachers of writing-based courses. In this Teaching Circle, we will discuss critical pedagogical issues that often come up when we teach these courses: What does it mean for a student to write well? What is the relationship between writing and thinking, between reading and writing, between general and discipline-specific competencies? What pedagogical practices and assignments produce the best writing? How do we respond effectively to student writing? What role should public discourse play in the teaching of writing? What should our goals be in initiating students into different kinds of literacy—digital, quantitative, informational, visual, data, media, etc.? To what extent should we engage students with different genres (fiction, creative nonfiction, journalism, lab reports), digital technologies (Google Docs, digital narratives, podcasts), and purposes for writing (academic, professional, civic)?


Constructing Critical Conversations in your Classroom: Creating Change 
Peggy O’Neill (School for Social Work)

The Critical Conversations (CC) model provides a framework for facilitating conversations to directly and constructively engage immediate discussions of power and privilege, oppression, and structural inequalities active in the classroom. Although such issues often activate emotional tension and conflict in classrooms, they can produce fruitful dialogue that fosters critical analysis when facilitated effectively. The CC model, grounded in dialogic learning principles provides a pathway for faculty and students to deconstruct how power dynamics that perpetuate inequities across relationships and structures are enacted within their immediate conversation and explore the inherent relationship to the content of the course.

Critical conversations are those in which power dynamics in social context are illuminated, substantively examined in the moment and subsequently reflected upon in order to produce change—personal, systemic, institutional.

This Teaching Circle is open to all faculty who are curious and interested in enhancing their skills in participating in and facilitating critical conversations in their classrooms. Faculty who attended the Critical Conversations Professional Development Series in January 2019 are highly encouraged to come for support and to offer consultation and guidance to others.

We will have opportunity to discuss ways in which to use the CC model when challenging issues related to power, privilege, oppression and structural inequities emerge and are played out among students and instructors.  Discussion will be open and applied to common situations with which many of us can connect.


Teaching while Contingent
Tian An Wong (Math & Statistics)
Bona Kang (Education)

This teaching circle welcomes precarious academic laborers at Smith, open to all contingent staff and faculty on short-term non-negotiable contracts. The class stratification of tenure, tenure-track, and adjunct faculty at Smith is largely invisible, while statistics reveal the increasing and indispensable "precariat" across the board in the US academy. We will discuss teaching and other work whilst navigating Smith as a foreign and temporary environment, centering the experiences of racial, ethnic, sexual, gender, and national minorities. What resources are available to us? What methods of coping and acclimating have others found effective? What emotional labor is required of us that is not valued by potential future employers? In what ways are we complicit in the structural inequalities that persist in the institution?  Through these conversations, we hope to develop a community of support as we learn from one another’s experiences. Please sign up here for future notifications, especially if Fridays are not convenient for you.


Teaching Circle on Teaching in Seelye 301 and other Flat-Floor Classrooms
Shannon Audley (Education)

Last year a new classroom with a flexible floor plan, movable furniture, and multiple projectors came online: Seelye 301. This circle convenes those who teach in that room and those who are considering teaching in flat-floor flexible classrooms in general. We will exchange ideas about what pedagogies that room makes feasible, including Team-Based Learning and other similar "active" pedagogies, and draw upon insights from the learning sciences to improve our classroom practices.


Collaborators Inside and Outside the Classroom
Charlene Shang Miller (Museum of Art)
Jon Caris (Spatial Analysis Lab)

This Teaching Circle brings together staff from a variety of campus resources (libraries, museums, labs, centers, etc.) who are collaborators in teaching and learning inside and outside the classroom. In our meetings, we will discover our various sites, share pedagogy and approaches to integrating resources into the curriculum, build community through networking, and generate ideas for collaborations with faculty and students as well as each other.

To be added to the group contact list for this Teaching Circle, please email Charlene Shang Miller.

Fall 2019 schedule:

Friday, Oct. 11, 12:15-1:15 pm (Lunch beginning at noon) - Campus Center Carroll Room

Discussion with Laura Rauscher, director of the Office of Disability Services

Thursday, Oct. 31, 12:00-1:15, Botanic Garden, Lyman 111

Thursday, Nov. 21, 12:00-1:15,Design Thinking Initiative, Capen Annex


Teaching "Blackness"/Black Atlantic/Africa and its Diaspora:  An Africana Studies Teaching Circle
Daphne Lamothe (Africana Studies)

In this teaching circle, faculty teaching courses having to do with racialized blackness in the U.S. and across the African/Black diaspora will gather together to discuss the strengths, challenges and opportunities for collaboration. 

Friday, Sept. 27, 12:15-1:15 pm (Lunch beginning at noon) - Campus Center Carroll Room


Developing and Teaching Soft Skills
Dina Venezky (Non-Degree Programs)

How can we best communicate and network to gain the support of others? This circle, the idea for which emerged from a Teaching Arts Luncheon last year, is for anyone interested in discussing the soft skills we need to be successful. Non-degree programs will share experiential materials we use to help our participants move forward in their careers. Join us for a lively discussion.

Friday, Oct. 11, 12:15-1:15 pm (Lunch beginning at noon) - Campus Center Carroll Room
Friday, Nov. 15, 12:15-1:15 pm (Lunch beginning at noon) - Campus Center Carroll Room


Creative Writing Salon 
Andrea Stone (English Language & Literature)
Gillian Kendall (English Language & Literature)
Ruth Ozeki (English Language & Literature) 

The Creative Writing Salon is an occasion for faculty and staff who are teaching and practicing creative writing to meet informally to discuss the things that interest and concern us—pedagogy, craft, and our own writing projects—and to share work as well. The Salon is for anyone who has some kind of creative writing practice and engages in some way with creative writing pedagogy.

The Salon is hosted by the English Department's Creative Writing Committee and the Sherrerd Center for Teaching and Learning. We meet twice a semester for wine and cheese, and in the interim to use a Moodle site to stay connected. 

Thursday, Oct. 17, 5:00-6:30 p.m., Poetry Center, Wright Hall


Conversation About Instructing Laboratory Classes 
Marney Pratt (Biological Sciences)

This Teaching Circle is an opportunity for lab instructors (and anyone else who teaches lab courses) to get together and talk across disciplines about teaching lab courses.

Friday Sept. 13th, 12:15-1:15 p.m. (Lunch beginning at noon) - Campus Center Carroll Room
December (date and time TBD)