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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 host 10 lunches per semester and have a diverse array of participants, including the occasional guest. Students from the SGA Curriculum Committee or other groups lead at least one Teaching Arts Luncheon each year.

Fall 2018

September 7, 2018—How to Speak Up, Even When You’re Scared: Strategies to Increase Student Participation in the Classroom
Rachel J. Simmons (Leadership Development Specialist, Wurtele Center for Leadership)

How can we best encourage our students to raise their hands, wrestle with an idea with no “right answer,” or debate a position? In interviews and focus groups conducted on and off campus, I have learned that many students hesitate to speak because they fear being “wrong.” Others identify as introverts. In this session, I will share insights from students and classroom strategies to cultivate participation.

September 14, 2018—The N-Word in the Classroom: Teaching Racist Language without Harm
Elizabeth Stordeur Pryor (History)

The n-word poses a particular problem when invoked insensitively in academic spaces. In this teaching arts lunch, Pryor models her own process teaching racially provocative materials with special attention to how racist language is often a time traveler: nestled in the dusty pages of old books while simultaneously taking up residence in the present-day classroom.

Elizabeth Stordeur Pryor is one of the Sherrerd Center’s Teaching Mentors this year.

September 21, 2018—A Framework for Thinking about Teaching & Learning
Al Rudnitsky (Education & Child Study)

“And here is a simple truth about teaching... Teaching is a system. It is not a loose mixture of individual features thrown together by the teacher. It works more like a machine, with the parts operating together and reinforcing one another, driving the vehicle forward.  This is a very different way to think about teaching. It means that individual features, by themselves, are not good or bad. Their value depends on how they connect to others and fit into the lesson.” Stigler, James & Hiebert, James. (1999). The teaching gap: Best ideas from the world’s teachers for improving education in the classroom. New York, NY: The Free Press.

This Teaching Arts Lunch talk takes a learning science look at this system.

Al Rudnitsky is one of the Sherrerd Center’s Teaching Mentors this year.

September 28, 2018Teaching Circles Friday—Please meet in Campus Center 205.

October 5, 2018—Supporting the Mental Health Needs of Smith Students: Research and Practice Findings of the Counseling Service
Pamela McCarthy (Director of the Schacht Center for Health and Wellness)
Kris Evans (Associate Director, Smith College Counseling Service)

The Schacht Center leadership will share some of the Smith-specific data we have on mental health on campus including presenting concerns, utilization rates, and demographics. We will then provide a brief overview of the types of services we provide and offer suggestions of when and how to seek support for students in mental health crises. We will highlight a few resources that are newly available this fall. 

October 12, 2018—Writing-Enriched Curricula @ Smith?
Pamela Flash (Director, Writing Across the Curriculum, University of Minnesota)

Where do students learn to write in their majors? How can departmental faculty possibly agree on what discipline-relevant writing even looks like, never mind who should be teaching what in which courses?  In this brief presentation, these questions will be addressed with an overview of the Writing-Enriched Curriculum (WEC), a model developed at the University of Minnesota and currently implemented on university and college campuses across the country. WEC offers a dynamic, faculty-driven, and collaborative method for supporting the intentional incorporation of relevant writing and writing instruction into undergraduate curricula. Assessment data indicate shifts in the ways that students and faculty conceive of writing and writing instruction, and increases in the frequency with which student writing meets faculty expectations. At the end of the presentation, attendees will consider whether and how this model might be implemented at Smith.

October 19, 2018—Team and Active Learning Activities from the Arts to the Sciences
Justin T. Fermann (Chemistry Lecturer, University of Massachusetts)
Lena Fletcher (Natural Resources Conservation Program Manager, Chief Advisor, and Lecturer, University of Massachusetts)
Jason Hooper (Senior Lecturer, Music Theory, University of Massachusetts)

This luncheon will involve a panel of three UMass faculty members, a chemist, a musician, and an ecologist discussing and modelling their varied use of active and creative pedagogies in their classes. This will be an interactive session, the panel will model examples as applied across their disciplines.

October 26, 2018—Discussion of Possible Database of Student Feedback on Courses*
Floyd Cheung (Sherrerd Center; Design and Implementation Committee)
Susannah Howe (Engineering; Design and Implementation Committee)
Rutendo Madziwo (’19; Student Representative on Design Committee)
Cate Rowen (Institutional Research; Design and Implementation Committee)

The Ad Hoc Committee to Review Course Evaluation recommended that our new course feedback questionnaire include a question whose answers could be shared with other students for the purpose of making course selections and learning how to make the most of a particular course. The Provost and SGA Curriculum Committee endorsed this idea, and so we have piloted asking the following questions: "What would you like to say about this course to a student who is considering taking it in the future? What strategies would you recommend to future students to make the most out of this class?" We call this pair of questions Q7.  Many of you have seen your students' responses to Q7 following the spring 2018 pilot of the new questionnaire. We have not created a secure database for sharing Q7 responses yet but are currently considering potential ways to do so. This Teaching Arts Luncheon, which will be led by members of the Ad Hoc Committee, will give an update on policy and design considerations and invite your questions and feedback regarding the possible creation of this database.

*Please meet in the Paradise Room, Conference Center this week.

November 2, 2018—Teaching Circles Friday—Please meet in Campus Center 103/104.

November 9, 2018—Conversation about Trigger Warnings
María Helena Rueda (Spanish & Portuguese)
Floyd Cheung (Sherrerd Center)

Debates continue about whether instructors ought to use trigger or content warnings in their teaching. Do they help or impede student learning? How are instructors to predict what might be triggering? Are there implications for academic freedom? What are current students' expectations regarding such warnings? Colleagues disagree about answers to these questions. For instance, Sarah Orem (American Studies) makes her case for using trigger warnings in this essay, while Ellen Kaplan (Theatre) speaks against them in this video. Come share your own experiences with and thinking about this topic.

November 16, 2018—Getting Messy with Plants: Partnering with the Botanic Garden in Inclusive Liberal Arts Teaching
Nancy Bradbury(English Language & Literature)
Randi Garcia(Psychology, Statistical & Data Sciences)

Come learn how teaching partnerships with the Botanic Garden can help you create wonderfully messy classroom experiences. In this talk we will share two such courses that span the Smith curriculum, Eden and Other Gardens (FYS) and Research Design and Analysis (SDS). Incorporating a living campus facility fosters a material connection in the classroom — think dirty hands, growing plants, and aroma therapy! — which may offer an alternative point of entry for learners unaccustomed to the level of abstraction in many college courses. Real, messy problems requiring an all hands on deck approach invite all students to see that their life skills and experiences are valuable.

November 30, 2018—Teaching Circles Friday – Please meet in Campus Center 103/104

December 7, 2018—Student Residences as Sites of Teaching and Learning: How we (faculty and staff) can partner to enhance the student’s experience
Stacey Steinbach (Residence Life, Area Coordinator)
Mariana Estrella Rivera (Residence Life, Area Coordinator)

As a residential college an emphasis is placed on the student’s lived experiences. In this session we will discuss the ways in which students engage with Residence Life’s and the College’s Core Values as well and how that translates to their work in the classroom. We will also share ways in which we can be partners with each other to ensure a well rounded academic experience.

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 26, 2018 - Laptop Time! Pedagogically-informed Teaching with Technology
Randi Garcia (Psychology, Statistical & Data Sciences)
Simon Halliday (Economics)

How do laptops and other internet-connected devices contribute to active learning and to inclusive teaching practices? Taking the learning sciences as our starting point, we shall demonstrate how we use technology in our classes, from Google apps to PollEverywhere, from GapMinder to Think-Pair-Share. We integrate the analog with the digital: with pen-and-paper and chalk-and-talk collaborating with ones-and-zeros and touch screens, too. We will discuss our classes as case studies for potential policies and practices. We shall devote time at the end to an open discussion with colleagues. Please bring a device! If you don’t have a device, let us know and ETS can provide one for you.

Resources for this presentation are posted on Simon Halliday's site

February 9, 2018 – The View of the Classroom from College Hall 101: How Class Deans Can Support Faculty in Their Work with Students
The Class Deans:
Jane Stangl (Dean of the First-Year Class)
Andrea Rossi-Reder (Dean of the Sophomore and Ada Comstock Scholars Classes)
Tina Wildhagen (Dean of the Junior Class)
Danielle Carr Ramdath (Dean of the Senior Class and Associate Dean of the College)

February 16, 2018 – Discussion of “What I Wish My Professor Knew”
SGA Curriculum Committee 
Rosie Altucher (Class of '18, Curriculum Committee Chair) - Please contact Rosie with questions or requests to access the document. 
Ahana Raina (Class of '20)
Maddie Wettach (Class of '20)

During fall 2017, members of the SGA Curriculum Committee collected anonymous responses from current students to one question: “what do you wish your professors knew?” This open-ended format allowed them to get honest and thoughtful responses on a wide range of topics outside of the confines of their expectations. They collected and sorted some of the most thought-provoking comments. This discussion will highlight selected responses and invite conversation.

February 23, 2018 – The Student-Faculty Pedagogical Partnership Program
Floyd Cheung (Faculty Leader, Student-Faculty Pedagogical Partnership Program)
Gary Felder (Physics) & Tare Suriel (Class of 2018, Sociology)
Elizabeth Klarich (Anthropology) & Rose Silverman (Class of 2018, Government)

The Smith College Student-Faculty Pedagogical Partnership Program engages students as partners to observe and give feedback to professors who have chosen to analyze their teaching over an entire semester. Students themselves are validated as expert learners who have much to contribute through affirming what is working well in faculty members’ courses and supporting faculty in developing a more inclusive learning environment at Smith. At this luncheon, we will describe the program, hear from two pairs of student-faculty partners about their experiences, and answer questions. If you are interested in participating as a faculty partner, please see this invitation.

March 2, 2018 – Calderwood Seminars in Public Writing: "The most beneficial class I have taken at Wellesley"
David Lindauer (Stanford Calderwood Professor of Economics, Wellesley College)

Calderwood Seminars in Public Writing develop students’ writing skills for external audiences. The program includes seminars at Wellesley which are taught across the disciplines and enroll about 15 percent of each graduating class. These upper-level seminars employ a distinctive pedagogy and provide a framework for students to learn to translate their disciplinary knowledge into writing for the public. Public writing—the ability to translate complex arguments and professional jargon to a broad audience—is different from the academic writing done in most courses and is central to success in life beyond college. Wellesley students and faculty have been enthusiastic about these capstone seminars which not only improve student writing but increase students’ command over their major field of study.

The program began at Wellesley in 2013-14 and is now being expanded to other colleges and universities. You can read more about the program here:


Friday March 9, 2018 – Mitigating Anxiety through Mindful Assessment Design 
Catherine McCune (Director, Spinelli Center for Quantitative Learning)
Kelly Vogel (Learning Specialist and Coordintator of Tutorial Services, Jacobson Center)
Jessica Bacal (Director, Wurtele Center)
Kris Evans (Associate Director, Smith Counseling Service & Adjunct Assistant Professor SSW)
Laura Rauscher (Director, Office of Disability Services)

Test taking anxiety can have factors arising from a variety of places-- anxiety that is particular to the topic (e.g. math), performance anxiety, anxiety about tests generally, generalized anxiety that is exacerbated by testing, anxiety disorders linked to disabilities, etc.  Topics will include types of anxiety, classroom practices and designing assessment structures to mitigate anxiety, and resources for further support.


March 23, 2018 – The Wright State Model for Engineering Mathematics Education: Uncorking the Bottleneck to Student Success
Nathan Klingbeil (Professor and Dean, College of Engineering and Computer Science, Wright State University)

Guest-speaker, Dr. Nathan Klingbeil, is Dean of the College of Engineering and Computer Science at Wright State University, where he has led efforts to “uncork math-related curricular bottlenecks” across the curriculum. His experience at WSU can inform ours at Smith.

March 30, 2018 - Cultivating Risk: A Pedagogical Approach to Learning, Failure, and Experimentation
Zaza Kabayadondo (Co-Director, The Design Thinking Initiative)

During this session we will explore the relationship between risk taking and the development of metacognitive skills—skills that aid students in learning how to think their way through a problem or failure. We will discuss the role of metacognition in collaborative learning and outline the power of risks in the classroom and beyond.


April 20, 2018 - Digital Sandbox: A Hands-On Exploration of Learning Technologies
Yasmin Eisenhauer (Associate Director, ITS)

Join Educational Technology Services for an interactive session showcasing collaborative projects from the 2016-17 academic year. Participants will have an opportunity to play with current and emerging technologies, and imagine new ways to enhance the teaching and learning experience.


April 27, 2018 - Combining Community-Based Research, Public History/Cultural Studies, and Digital Humanities
Jennifer Guglielmo (History)
Michelle Joffroy (Latin American Studies; Spanish & Portuguese)
Miriam Neptune (Digital Scholarship Librarian)

For the last two years Michelle Joffroy and Jennifer Guglielmo have been teaching connected courses in which our students are working in service of the domestic workers movement, which has emerged with new force in recent years with major legislative victories, including the Domestic Worker Bill of Rights (signed into law in eight states since 2010). We will share the collaborative public history/cultural studies digital humanities project we’ve been developing with our community partners and students, with the support of Miriam Neptune (Digital Scholarship Librarian), which include digital storytelling, short videos, and a Smartphone-accessible timeline on the history of domestic worker organizing in the United States, and discuss the kinds of pedagogies that this kind of work has necessitated.