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Teaching Arts Lunches

Professor Suleiman Mourad teaching a class

Please join us on the following Fridays for discussions focused on teaching and learning at Smith. Unless otherwise indicated, we will meet in the Carroll Room (Campus Center) from noon until 1 p.m., with lunch provided (meat, vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free/grain-free options). The primary aim of these lunches is to provide an opportunity for faculty and staff to learn from one another as they share their practices and experiences as teachers. We generally hold 6–8 lunches per semester and have a diverse array of participants, including guest presentations. Students from the SGA Curriculum Committee or other groups lead at least one Teaching Arts Luncheon each year.

Fall 2017

September 8, 2017
Gender Identity and Pronouns in the Classroom
Carrie Baker (Study of Women and Gender)
Jennifer DeClue (Study of Women and Gender)

This teaching arts luncheon will be a conversation about ways to discuss pronoun usage in the classroom that remain attentive to students' needs while fostering inclusive and respectful spaces for learning.


September 15, 2017
Integrating Art Across the Curriculum at the Smith College Museum of Art (SCMA)
Maggie Newey (Associate Director of Academic Programs and Public Education, SCMA)
Charlene Shang Miller (Associate Educator for Academic Programs, SCMA)
Henriette Kets De Vries (Cunningham Center Manager, SCMA)

Works of art are inherently interdisciplinary and can inspire deep critical inquiry and expansive student-driven discussion. Hear from fellow faculty members about their experiences working with the art museum to integrate art into their teaching in deep and transformative ways. SCMA colleagues will also discuss approaches to unpack the multiple meanings in a work of art through various teaching and learning strategies across the curriculum. 

September 29, 2017
Culturally Responsive Teaching in STEM
Kelly Mack (Vice President and Executive Director, Project Kaleidoscope, Office of Undergraduate Science Education (PKAL/STEM), AAC&U)

Kelly Mack is the vice president for undergraduate STEM education at the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) and executive director of its Project Kaleidoscope (PKAL), which now serves as the center for STEM higher education reform. Prior to joining AAC&U, Mack was the senior program director for the National Science Foundation (NSF) ADVANCE Program while on loan from the University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES), where, as a professor of biology, she taught courses in physiology and endocrinology for 17 years.

October 6, 2017
Constructing Critical Conversations in your Classroom: Creating Change
Peggy O’Neill (School for Social Work)

(Description to be added soon)

October 13, 2017
A Few Things Cognitive Science Teaches Us About Effective Teaching
Rebecca Brent (President, Education Designs, Inc. Cary, NC)
Richard M. Felder (Hoechst Celanese Professor Emeritus of Chemical Engineering, North Carolina State University)

For most of the last nine centuries, the standard model for university teaching has been simple: professors lecture and students listen, and then the students try to replicate on assignments and examinations the facts and methods presented in the lectures. Throughout those centuries, some philosophers and psychologists and educators disagreed with this formula, but they were generally ignored by most university faculty members and administrators.

In the past three to four decades, cognitive scientists have discovered a great deal about the learning process—what happens in the brain when we learn something and what methods and conditions of instruction promote learning. It turns out that the practices of the standard teaching model are not on the list of promotive factors. This presentation reviews some of the principal findings of the scientists, suggests teaching practices consistent with those findings, and points to research-based evidence that those practices are indeed more effective than the traditional ones.

October 20, 2017
Conversation about New Course Feedback Questionnaire
Nat Fortune (Physics)
Susannah Howe (Engineering)
Floyd Cheung (Director of the Sherrerd Center, English & American Studies)

In 2016, the provost charged an ad hoc committee to review our old course evaluations. After reading relevant scholarship and consulting with many groups from junior and senior faculty to T&P to students via the SGA Curriculum Committee, the ad hoc committee recommended changes which were approved by the provost in 2017. Major changes include moving from course evaluation to course feedback, shifting the period when students fill them out, eliminating the fine for not filling them out, rewording the questions so that they are less repetitive, clarifying that the primary purpose of the questionnaire is to gather data for teaching improvement, and including a new question whose data will be available to all students for the purpose of course selection. There were opportunities to discuss these and other possible changes during the study phase. A few courses volunteered to pilot the new course feedback questionnaire in the spring of 2017. We learned from that experience and made adjustments. Now we are about to implement the questionnaire college-wide. This Teaching Arts Luncheon will review the new questionnaire, discuss the option for and logistics regarding asking custom questions of your own creation, and provide an opportunity for us to talk about how to use the questionnaire to improve teaching.

October 27, 2017
Advancing Chemistry Through Diversity

Rigoberto Hernandez (Gompf Family Professor of Chemistry, Johns Hopkins University)

The Open Chemistry Collaborative in Diversity Equity (OXIDE) is aimed at institutional reform so as to lower inequitable barriers hindering the success of faculty from diverse groups. The collaborative itself is a partnership with the department heads of research-active chemistry departments, social scientists and other key stakeholders. The lowering of these barriers increases the likelihood that individuals already in the tenure pipeline will have equitable chances of success and thereby leads to changes in faculty demographics closer to those of the broader U.S. population. The creation of a more equitable climate is also expected to encourage more disadvantaged students to enter academic careers in the chemical sciences. We will report on OXIDE's approaches to increase awareness of effective policies and practices that decrease inequitable barriers and improve the diversity climate in chemistry departments.  

November 3, 2017
The Teacher Roundtable:  Practices for Sustaining Close Attention to Student Thinking
Robbie Murphy (Campus School teacher)
Jan Szymaszek (Campus School teacher)
Lara Ramsey (Director of Teaching and Learning at Hilltown Community Charter School and former Campus School teacher)

For the past twelve years we have facilitated Teacher Roundtables, which are collaborative assessment conferences for area educators working in grades K–college. Our monthly sessions are aimed at developing reflective practices to increase awareness and visibility of student thinking. Building on the protocols described by Steve Seidel (Project Zero), this work provides opportunities for systematically and collectively considering a single piece of student work. The observations, questions and emergent theories about the artifact inform our approach to assessment, teaching and learning. The process fosters insight to our profession and encourages a reflective teacher presence in the classroom. We will describe the history of the Roundtable, offering examples of key themes that have emerged over the years: the value of multiple perspectives in looking at work; the freedom of structure gained by use of a protocol; and nurturing a neutral stance that allows educators to assess student understanding more fully. Participants are invited to attend any of the monthly Teacher Roundtables in Campus Center, Room 204 on Sat., Oct. 14, and in Campus Center, Room 205 on Sat., Nov. 18; Sat., Dec. 8; Wed., Feb. 7; Wed., Mar. 7; Sat., Apr. 28..

November 10, 2017
Capen Annex: Rethinking and Redoing Classroom Space*
Zaza Kabayadondo (The Design Thinking Initiative)
Judith Keyler-Mayer (German Studies)
Sam Intrator (Education and Child Study)

Capen Annex opened in January 2016 after undergoing a makeover to become a flexible new learning space where learners and teachers can move around dynamically and question the boundaries between “outside class” and “inside class.” At a time when Smith is rethinking its classrooms, Capen Annex has been a resource for transforming existing courses, conceiving new collaborative or co-taught courses and adding new learning opportunities that go beyond the traditional. Join this panel in exploring lessons we’ve learned by offering full courses in and group visits to Capen Annex.

*Please meet in Campus Center Room 205 for this Teaching Arts Luncheon

December 1, 2017
Listening and responding to diverse students: Examples from the SCCD (Science Center Committee on Diversity)
Laura Katz (Biological Sciences)
Bosiljka Glumac (Geosciences)
Other members of SCCD

SCCD is a group of students, staff and faculty concerned with questions of access, inclusion and equity that focus on, but are not at all limited to just STEM disciplines. SCCD hosts annual listening sessions with students and crafts its agenda based on the issues raised. Members of SCCD will share various formats and contents of the listening sessions together with examples of follow up actions and outcomes.

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.

JANUARY 27, 2017
Discussion of Beverly Daniel Tatum’s book, Can We Talk About Race?
Shannon Audley (Education & Child Study)

After teaching high school science, Audley earned her doctorate in educational psychology and has taught at Smith College since 2012. Her research is interdisciplinary and currently examines issues surrounding children’s (and teachers’) experience of justice and injustice within the school context. Please contact the Sherrerd Center if you are a Smith faculty or staff member and would like a copy of this book. Additional copies are also on reserve at Neilson Library.

FEBRUARY 3, 2017
This luncheon will include reflections from four Smith faculty members on Peer Teaching Partnerships.

Pedagogy in and Beyond the Classroom
Mukaram Hhana (History) & JT Roane (Africana Studies)

While we initially imagined our feedback and scholarly community building to simply edify our pedagogies inside the classroom, the relationship we built took on new dimensions in the political climate leading up to and following the national elections. Faced with anti-Arab, anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant, and anti-Black rhetorical and physical violence, we hosted a series of on-campus safe spaces in which we sought to model and practice community through cross-racial dialogue. The results of this team-teaching effort outside the classroom, in turn, positively affected our pedagogy in our courses for the semester. In our talk, we will narrate these developments and discuss how the lessons will continue to shape the ways that we approach teaching.

Co-teaching, Co-llaborating, Co-learning
Suzanne Gottschang (Anthropology/East Asian Studies) & Susannah Howe (Engineering)

We have explored and greatly benefited from collaborations over two years in several classes. In 2015–16, with funding from a Course Enhancement Grant from the Design Thinking Initiative, we co-advised an interdisciplinary student team via the Engineering Design Clinic class. It included students from engineering, anthropology and computer science on a project with a Baystate Health System pediatric clinic. As part of this collaboration, Gottschang sat in on Howe's EGR capstone class for the entire year, observing approaches and providing informed feedback. This year, with support from another DT grant, Howe is sitting in on two of Gottschang's ANT classes, one each semester, to learn about ANT approaches and to build a foundation for future cross-departmental collaborations. In this panel, we discuss coordinating class shadowing, what we learned from the experiences and how the collaborations have impacted our teaching.

FEBRUARY 10, 2017
The Benefits of Slowing Down

Floyd Cheung (Director of the Sherrerd Center for Teaching & Learning)

As a result of the snowstorm, our scheduled guest presenter, Debbie Bial from the Posse Foundation, will not be able to lead this luncheon. We will work with her to reschedule. We invite you to join us in a spontaneous Teaching Arts Luncheon about the benefits of slowing down, both in our own lives and for student learning. I will share some ideas from Slow Professor: Challenging the Culture of Speed in the Academy and techniques for managing the pace of a class for the benefit of all students.

Jennifer L. Roberts -The Power of Patience: Teaching students the value of deceleration and immersive attention. Harvard Magazine. November–December 2013
James M. Lang - Small Changes in Teaching: The First 5 Minutes of Class. The Chronicle of Higher Education. January 11, 2016.
James M. Lang - Small Changes in Teaching: The Last 5 Minutes of Class. The Chronicle of Higher Education. March 7, 2016.Maggie Berg & Barbara Seeber. Slow Professor: Challenging the Culture of Speed in the Academy. University of Toronto Press. April 2016. Available in the Sherrerd Center's Resource Library.

FEBRUARY 24, 2017
Electronic Submission of Assignments and Marking Digitally

Marney Pratt (Biology)

Why embrace technology to the point of giving students feedback digitally? Not only does it save paper, but there are many other good reasons to do it as well. Of course there are also drawbacks to doing everything digitally. We will discuss the pros and cons of marking digitally as well as see some examples of how it can be done. We will discuss some methods for electronic submission, digital marking and how to get your feedback back to students.

MARCH 3, 2017
Ada Comstock Scholars’ Experiences in the Classroom
Andrea Rossi-Reder (Dean of Ada Comstock Scholars)
Katie Wing & Maria Wood (Ada Class Presidents)

Dean Rossi-Reder will provide an update on the Ada Comstock Scholars Program, and we will hear from several Ada Comstock Scholars about their experience as learners in Smith College classrooms.

MARCH 24, 2017
Blind Grading in the Undergraduate Classroom
Alice Hearst (Government) & Tina Wildhagen (Sociology)

Undergraduate classrooms in liberal arts colleges often pride themselves on creating strong ties between students and faculty. That relationship, however, can be problematic when it comes to grading, as students frequently build expectations around the relationship between grades and class participation. We will discuss our experiences with blind grading and will offer suggestions about how, when and where to use this approach.

PDF iconContribution Rubric (PDF)

MARCH 31, 2017
Making the Most out of the Mellon Student-Faculty Collaboration Grant
Marnie Anderson (History)
Mehammed Mack (French)
Reyes Lazaro (Spanish & Portuguese)

We reflect on our experiences running three distinct student-faculty collaborative grants over the past academic year.

APRIL 7, 2017
Inclusiveness in Office Hours and Advising
Scott Bradbury (Classical Languages & Literatures)

Scott Bradbury, faculty director of advising, will lead a discussion focusing on how we might make advising meetings and office hours more inclusive and welcoming, so that both students and faculty can reap the benefits of a good working rapport and, in particular, so that students feel comfortable and confident enough to seek out the advice faculty advisers and mentors have to offer.

APRIL 14, 2017
What’s Up with Writing at Smith?

Julio Alves (Director of the Jacobson Center & Co-chair of the Writing Committee)
Alice Hearst (Director of the First Year Seminar Program & Co-chair of the Writing Committee)
Cate Rowen (Executive Director for Institutional Research and Educational Assessment)
Minh Ly (Associate Director for Assessment)

Join members of the Writing Committee and the Office of Institutional Research for a discussion about writing. We will review data from a recent assessment along with data gathered through the Cycles Survey, for which we asked students to identify what helped them improve as writers in their four years at Smith. We will also discuss some ideas emerging from the recent outside assessment of the writing program as a whole.

PDF icon"What's Up with Writing at Smith?" Powerpoint Presentation (PDF)

APRIL 28, 2017
Creating Inclusive Classrooms

Dwight Hamilton (VP for Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity)