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Teaching Mentors

Starting in 2018-19, the Sherrerd Center for Teaching & Learning will have on a pilot basis two teaching mentors whose job it will be to share innovative practices and strategies with colleagues.


Teaching Mentors for 2018–19

Al Rudnitsky
Al Rudnitsky (Education & Child Study) will serve as a resource for Smith faculty who want to “talk” teaching. Teaching is enormously complex and is a central component of our work and our professional and personal identities. This teaching mentorship is based on the premise that there are many times when it would be helpful to engage in conversation about our teaching. The conversations envisioned are unscripted and exploratory. Rather than supplying “here’s what to do” solutions, the conversations will introduce ideas, raise questions, and, generally help faculty think through and explore ways to design and structure new learning experiences as well as make flexible and adaptive use of existing teaching techniques and tools.

The structure for these conversations is a work in progress. We imagine most to be one-on-one but they could include another colleague (or even two). The whole idea of “conversation” suggests a discourse that develops over time. Therefore, we imagine most (but not all) to be more than one-time events. We imagine many topics for the conversations; for example, designing learning activities, improving collaboration and discourse, thinking through assessment strategies and measures of student learning, supporting a “meta-discourse” with students about pedagogy and learning. Al’s hope is to ground these conversations in our best understanding of how people learn.

Office Hours: Mondays 1:30 - 3:00 pm, Thursdays 2:30 - 4:00 pm and by appointment.

Elizabeth Pryor
Teaching Mentor for Inclusive and Equitable Pedagogies, Elizabeth Stordeur Pryor (History), grapples with a conundrum: How to teach difficult racial subjects, especially from the past, without inflicting harm in the present. Her particular interest focuses on the “n-word”—a word that is prevalent in both racist and anti-racist documents, art, literature and politics—but one that poses a problem when invoked insensitively in academic spaces. Pryor will work with faculty (using the Teaching Circle paradigm and other strategies) to imagine pedagogical techniques that seek to mitigate n-word incidents (and the like) in the Smith community. Using the classroom itself as a point of entry, she will create strategies for navigating difficult language in the classroom as well as the increasingly intense student responses to the political and social landscape of Smith and the nation.

Office Hours: By appointment.


Teaching Mentor Luncheons

Both of the teaching mentors led Teaching Arts Luncheons in fall 2018.

September 14, 2018—“The ‘N-Word’ in the Classroom: Teaching Racist Language Without Harm”
Led by Elizabeth Stordeur Pryor
Noon–1 p.m., Carroll Room

September 21, 2018—“A Framework for Thinking about Teaching & Learning”
Led by Al Rudnitsky
Noon–1 p.m., Carroll Room