Friday @ the Center
September 25, 2009
The First Day of Class: Dos and Don'ts
Establishing rapport and generating curiosity are two crucial aspects of the first day of class, a period that is crucial to set the conditions for successful learning during the rest of the quarter. DO tell your students something about yourself—indicate that you are a person. DO show your genuine passion for and interest in the topic of the class—enthusiasm is contagious. DO promote active learning on the very first day by having your students do something—compile a list of what they think they know about X; take a pre-test; write a brief essay; analyze a short text that you project; read a paragraph and respond; provide additional examples after a mini-lecture (not more than 15 minutes), discuss a controversial topic about which the course eventually will provide more information. DON'T pass out the syllabus, read it out loud, and then dismiss your class early. DON'T lecture nonstop for 40-50 minutes. DON'T present yourself as a cold and distant person, either purposefully or accidentally.
Plan for the Day of Common Learning
The theme for this year's Day of Common Learning concerns the transformational leadership of Abraham Lincoln, the 16th president of the United States, whose 200th birthday we celebrate this year. About half of the afternoon breakout sessions treat Lincoln and the rest examine transformational leadership. Check out the offerings and start planning which sessions you will attend and which you will urge/require/request that your students attend.
Faculty Book Circles
Each year the Center for Scholarship and Faculty Development sponsors a number of Faculty Book Circles, which read a common book, meet at least three times over the course of the academic year to discuss the book, and provide an excellent way to interact with faculty across campus. If you are interested in organizing a book circle, contact me with the name of the book and the time you would meet. The Center will then publicize the circle, buy a copy of the book for those who join, and arrange a meeting place. Book circles in the past have read essay by Jonathan Edwards; Gender and Grace; "Why are all the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?" and Leaving the Lectern. Books can be theological, pedagogical, scholarly, or literary—your choice.
Quote of the Week
We ought to value ourselves and one another far more than we do, and I'm speaking theologically here, but also with an awareness that always haunts me, that we are the wonder of the universe, incomparably complex, brilliant, poignant—and perverse, of course...There are good grounds for awe in any human encounter. If we came anywhere near respecting the richness of the improbable life—hopes would flourish and blossom as they have never done before.