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A Culture of Care

Read Smith’s UPDATED plans as of August 5, 2020,
for an entirely remote fall 2020 semester.

Teaching Arts at Lunchtime Events

Professor Suleiman Mourad teaching a class

Please join us on Fridays for discussions focused on teaching and learning at Smith. This fall, discussions will occur via Zoom from 12:30-1:30 p.m. (or longer as noted) for Teaching Circles and Teaching Arts Lunchtime events.

Fall 2020

Come gather with the Sherrerd Center director, advisory board, colleagues, and guests as we talk about teaching, the work of the Sherrerd Center, and mostly, to gather informally to support one another in our teaching adventures at Smith. All are welcome to these Zoom gatherings.

Friday, September 11, 2020—Teaching Circles

  • Talking Through Remote Teaching: The Ups and Downs of the Fall 2020 with Liz Pryor (History); 12:30-1:30 pm
  • Interdependence in the (Remote) Classroom: Creating Community, Accountability, Flexibility with Caroline Melly (Anthropology); 12:30-1:20 pm

Friday, September 18, 2020—Teaching students and not content: The social context of pedagogy
12:30–1:30 p.m.

Bryan Dewsbury, University of Rhode Island

Friday, September 25, 2020—Teaching Circles

  • First Year Seminar Faculty Teaching Circle with Alice Hearst (GOV); 12:30-1:30 pm

Friday, October 2, 2020—Teaching Circles

  • Contingent Faculty Circle with Bona Kang (EDC) and Caitlin Shepherd (PSY); 12:20-1:20 pm
  • Laboratory Instructors Circle with Marney Pratt (BIO); 12:30-1:30 pm

Friday, October 9, 2020—Open Date

Friday, October 16, 2020—Embodying your Curriculum: A Workshop on Trauma-Informed Pedagogy
1–4 p.m.

Anita Chari (Associate Prof. of Political Science, University of Oregon) and Angelica Singh (M.A., BCST, Founder of The Embodiment Process™), co-founders of Embodying Your Curriculum, an online program designed to resource professors, students, and administrators with trauma-informed tools.

This 3-hour workshop introduces participants to practices for the classroom based on trauma-informed pedagogies, the neuroscience of mental health, and pedagogies of social justice and diversity. The workshop will support faculty to create connection and embodied presence in the online and in-person classroom at a moment when higher education is called upon to face profound social problems that cannot be walled off from our classes and that produce anxiety, stress, and burnout among students, staff, and faculty. The workshop will address trauma and overwhelm within the specific context of the pandemic and the movements against anti-Black violence, with practices that you can begin to use in your classroom and in your life immediately.

Friday, October 23, 2020—Teaching Circles

  • Talking Through Remote Teaching: Creating Community, Accountability, Flexibility with Caroline Melly (Anthropology) and Liz Pryor (History); 12:30-1:20 pm
  • Contingent Faculty Circle with Bona Kang (EDC) and Caitlin Shepherd (PSY); 12:20-1:20 pm

Friday, October 30, 2020—Discussing the Election with Government Faculty
12:30–1:30 p.m.
Anna Mwaba and Howard Gold

Friday, November 6, 2020—Teaching Circles

  • Talking Through Remote Teaching: Creating Community, Accountability, Flexibility with Caroline Melly (Anthropology) and Liz Pryor (History); 12:30-1:20 pm

Friday, November 13, 2020—Teaching Circles

  • Contingent Faculty Circle with Bona Kang (EDC) and Caitlin Shepherd (PSY); 12:20-1:20 pm

Friday, November 20, 2020—Inclusive Teaching Workshop
12:30-2 p.m.

Viji Sathy and Kelly Hogan, award winning instructors with a combined 25+ years in the classroom at the University of North Carolina will share expertise on inclusive techniques and active learning in any size crowd (both teach courses routinely with hundreds of students).

Friday, December 4, 2020—Teaching Circles

  • Talking Through J-term Teaching with Sara Pruss, Caroline Melly (Anthropology), and Liz Pryor (History); 12:30-1:20 pm

Friday, December 11, 2020—Teaching Circles

  • Contingent Faculty Circle with Bona Kang (EDC) and Caitlin Shepherd (PSY); 12:20-1:20 pm

Past Teaching Arts Lunches

Below is the list of last semester’s Teaching Arts Lunches. We keep an archive of all Teaching Arts Luncheons and their supporting documents, so please contact us if you are interested in receiving more information about past programming.

Spring 2020

Friday, February 7, 2020 - Implementing Inclusive Teaching Practices in STEM Gateway Courses
CC Carroll Room

Kevin Shea (Chemistry)

Ten faculty members in the sciences and engineering participated in a faculty learning community last semester focused on inclusive teaching methods in their courses. From a variety of discipline and differing levels of experience teaching at Smith, this group engaged in discussions about how to modify their courses to enable all of their students to succeed. Our session will feature a panel discussion with members of the group highlighting their experiences in the classroom last semester and what they are currently exploring in their spring semester classes. Our hope is that our presentation will inspire others to think more inclusively about their courses.

Great to read before the session:

Friday, February 14, 2020 - Identity Taxation on our Campus
CC Carroll Room

Patty DiBartolo (Associate Dean of the Faculty and Caroline L. Wall '27 Professor of Psychology)

Recent conversations (a panel at last year’s April 10th Inclusion in Action day; for chairs, at their August retreat and February meeting) have focused attention on faculty perspectives and experiences related to “identity taxation” (Hirshfeld & Joseph, 2012) for those of us with identities historically underrepresented in the academy (related to race/ethnicity, gender identity, and their intersections, as examples). This session will reflect upon the ways in which faculty members’ identities can nuance and challenge work in advising and teaching. We will review some useful principles that can help the institution and us all to develop a stronger sense of equity mindedness in relation to our shared work. Come share your perspectives and ideas.

Friday, February 28, 2020 - Study Group on Reimagining the Curriculum
Alumnae House Conference Room

Michael Thurston (Provost, Dean of the Faculty and Helen Means Professor of English Language and Literature)

Friday, March 6, 2020 - Best Practices in Advising
Alumnae House Conference Room

Lauren Duncan (William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of Psychology) & Sara Pruss (Professor and Chair, Dept of Geosciences; Director of the Sherrerd Center for Teaching & Learning)

We hope to discuss advising at Smith with an emphasis on liberal arts or pre-major advising, thinking about how advising incorporates teaching of all kinds. In this discussion, we will talk about identifying and helping our advisees with disabilities, and we'll explore some local models of advising that have shown promise at Smith.

Friday, March 27, 2020 - Framing Student Learning Around the Creation of Real World Products: CANCELLED
CC Carroll Room
Michael Barresi (Biological Sciences)

Friday, April 3, 2020 - Classroom Teaching Possibilities and Open House in Seelye 106: CANCELLED
Seelye 106
Kevin Shea (Chemistry)

Friday, April 10, 2020 - Apply Your Faculty Expertise to Addressing the Climate Crisis - Especially If You Haven't Identified As a "Climate Expert." A Panel Discussion With Faculty Across the College: CANCELLED CC Carroll Room
Benita Jackson (Psychology, Program in Five College Culture, Health, & Science)
Caroline Melly (Anthropology)
Andrea Stone (English Language & Literature) 

One barrier to incorporating climate crisis material into our courses is when faculty feel inadequately trained to do so. In this panel conversation, faculty from Divisions 1, 2, and 3, respectively, discuss ways - big and small - that they have incorporated discussions of the climate emergency into their classes, barriers they've faced, and creative ideas for doing it anyway. Though challenges on this scale bring to surface a profound sense of existential powerlessness, it's also true that as faculty we have great potential for shaping how students learn, frame, and act upon these issues.

Friday, April 24, 2020 - Failing Forward: A Conversation about Failing Grades: CANCELLED
CC Carroll Room

Tina Wildhagen (Associate Professor of Sociology and Dean of the Sophomore Class)
Danielle Ramdath (Dean of the Senior Class and Associate Dean of the College)

Failing grades often are perceived by students and faculty alike as a calamity. From a class dean's perspective, we think it's important for faculty to know that when they assign, say, a "mercy" D minus instead of an E, it might actually not be helping the student. As class deans, we know what can happen when a student receives an E (instead of, say, a D). It can be an opportunity to connect the student with resources and serve as an important signal to students that it's time to try a new approach to being a student.

Friday, May 1, 2020 - A Workshop on Teaching Content with the n-word: CANCELLED
Seelye 106
Liz Pryor (History)
Frazer Ward (Art)
Michael Gorra (English Language & Literature) 

Fall 2019

Friday, September 6, 2019 - Welcome to the New Year with the Sherrerd Center
Sara Pruss (Sherrerd Center Director)
Sherrerd Advisory Board Members

Come gather with the Sherrerd Center director, advisory board, and colleagues as we talk about the year in front of us, some transitions at the Sherrerd Center, and mostly gather informally to welcome each other to a new year of teaching adventures at Smith. All are welcome!

Friday, September 13, 2019 - Teaching Circles

Friday, September 20, 2019 - Teaching from the Trenches: Experiences with Zoom and PollEverywhere
Elizabeth Pryor (History)
Jen Malkowski (Film and Media Studies)
Lauren Duncan (Psychology)
Samantha Earp (Information Technology)

Friday, September 27, 2019 - Teaching Circles

Friday, October 4, 2019 - Topic: Climate 101: The Campus as Classroom Approach to Teaching and Learning
Denise McKahn (Engineering)
Dano Weisbord (CEEDS)

Engaging students in deep learning is messy, difficult and rewarding even on the best of days. Join us to discuss our 'campus as classroom approach' to teaching and learning. We will explore the learning sciences, discuss the identification of authentic problems, and articulate how faculty research and student learning can result in campus innovation. We will present case studies applied to Smith College and discuss existing staffing and financial support available to you to experiment with teaching climate impact.

Friday, October 11, 2019 - Teaching Circles

Friday, October 18, 2019 - Linguistic Diversity in the Classroom
Miranda McCarvel (Jacobson Center)

How do educators navigate the tension between respecting students’ native dialects/Englishes and the reality where Standard American English (SAE) is key to success both in and outside of college? This Teaching Arts Luncheon provides tools for educators to use both in the grading of written assignments and in classroom discourse to help students become proficient in SAE, while at the same time creating a Space in the classroom for students’ native dialects/Englishes. We will discuss how to approach the grading of work written by multilingual speakers, how to create a safe space for all dialects in the classroom, and how course and lesson design can accommodate linguistic diversity.

Friday, October 25, 2019 - Effective feedback strategies for busy people
Julio Alves (Jacobson Center)
Catherine McCune (Spinelli Center)

Instructive feedback strongly impacts achievement (documented fact), but not all feedback is equally effective. We can easily overwhelm ourselves and the students with the best of intentions to little or no gain. Today we discuss strategies for providing purposeful feedback to guide learning while managing the workload for both ourselves and the students. 

Powerpoint: Effective feedback strategies

Friday, November 1, 2019 - Intersecting Teaching Philosophies among the 2019 Sherrerd Prize Award Winners
Randi Garcia (Psychology, Statistical & Data Sciences)
Judith Keyler-Mayer (German Studies)
Kiki Smith (Theatre)

The 2019 Kathleen Compton Sherrerd ’54 and John J. F. Sherrerd Prize for Distinguished Teaching recipients Judith Keyler-Mayer, senior lecturer in German studies; Kiki Smith ’71, professor of theatre; and Randi Garcia, assistant professor of psychology and statistical and data sciences share their thoughts on how their teaching practices and philosophies intersect. This year’s award winners will discuss how they infuse innovation, generosity, empathy and respect into their teaching and advising, among other strategies.

Friday, November 8, 2019 - Public writing assignments:  Which is right for you?
Mellon Visiting Assistant Professors in Public Discourse in the Disciplines:  
Vange Heiliger (American Studies)
David Howlett (Religion)
Jordan Taylor (History)
Dan Vahaba (Biology)
Melissa Yates (Philosophy)

Writing is meant to be read by an audience, ideally bigger than one, but not all public writing assignments are appropriate for every class and every learning goal.  Today each of our five Mellon Visiting Assistant Professors in Public Discourse in the Disciplines presents a favorite public writing assignment that has led to successful learning.  From among them, you may find one that is right for you.



Friday, November 15, 2019 - Teaching Circles

Friday, November 22, 2019 - Student Spiritual Affiliation in a Secular World: Navigating Religious Identity in the Classroom
Matilda Rose Cantwell (Religious & Spiritual Life)

More and more students of diverse religious backgrounds are present in our classrooms. We are presented with questions about considerations for holidays that we may feel ill prepared to address, and may be encountering worldviews that we are not sure how to engage with or validate. In this interactive session we will talk about the resources available in the Center for Religious and Spiritual Life and its programs, and explore your questions about how we support student's various expressions of belief, tradition, and faith in this secular humanist context.

Friday, December 6, 2019 - Digital Africas: Collaborative Teaching of Literature in the Digital Age
Rhonda Cobham-Sander (Emily C. Jordan Folger Professor of Black Studies and English at Amherst College)

The proliferation of a global digital literature in the last decade is providing new opportunities for student learning.  Students in the Digital Africas course at Amherst College have been investigating how African writers incorporate digital technologies into their work when they publish traditional print texts, experiment with digital formats, or use the internet to redefine their relationship to local and international audiences. The course has also initiated new forms of collaborative teaching and learning, asking students to take responsibility for their own progression through the course via collaborative online discussions and a self-grading system that required participants both to grade themselves, and analyze the performance of their peers, offering a sense of ownership.  These tactics combine to create a new learning format appropriate for rising contemporary platforms and mores of knowledge sharing.

Bio for Professor Cobham-Sander: Rhonda Cobham-Sander teaches Caribbean and African Literature in the Departments of English and Black Studies at Amherst College. She has edited several literary anthologies and journal special issues and is the author of “I and I”: Epitaphs for the Self in the Work of V.S. Naipaul, Kamau Brathwaite, and Derek Walcott.

Her essays have appeared in such journals as Caribbean Quarterly, PMLA, Research in African Literatures, Small Axe, and Transition, as well as in numerous critical anthologies. Recently, she has been experimenting with new forms of evaluation in her introductory level course on “Reading Writing and Teaching,” her specialized mid-level course on “Digital Africas,” and the Black Studies Research Methods” seminar that she co-teaches, which she will discuss with us.