During the Spring 2022 semester, the Teaching and Learning Center will offer programs that invite, facilitate, and foster reflection on teaching at CUNY over the past two years, while also looking towards the future.
In past semesters TLC programming has emphasized workshops that mix reflective practice with explorations of the methods and skills that college teachers bring to their classrooms. During the past several months, as the COVID-19 pandemic has continued to create innumerable challenges for CUNY students, faculty, and staff, we have noticed a decline in attendance at these workshops. We share the feelings of fatigue and overextension that so many of our colleagues report, and which make the thought of spending yet more time on Zoom less appealing.
This semester, the University has pushed faculty, students, and staff to increase their physical presence on CUNY campuses, arguing that in-person instruction and activity are keys to student retention and success. This mandate has been met with a mixture of feelings, ranging from joy at the opportunity to be physically present with students to significant concern among faculty, staff, and students about the institution’s capacity to guarantee safe teaching, learning, and work environments. We find ourselves in a unique moment in the history of the pandemic, where the virus continues to wreak havoc, though infection rates are falling, and where public health measures are being relaxed across many institutions and spaces. We are certainly not out of the pandemic, yet many of us feel a sense of emergence into a new set of realities and relationships to our teaching.
Against this liminal backdrop, the TLC has imagined activities that offer opportunities for graduate student instructors and faculty colleagues to pause and reflect upon the experiences of teaching at CUNY in this moment, and to begin to imagine what ideas, stories, resources, and lessons might—must—be carried forward. In this work we will build upon and amplify the efforts of our friends and colleagues who have been preserving the histories of COVID at CUNY throughout, and who have advocated for policies that empower and resources that flow to the teachers who are crucial to student success across the system.
Materializing the Moment: Responding and Reflecting on the Return to CUNY Campuses
Many facets of the pandemic have been related to material conditions—concerns about and attention to our physical health, masks, home-boundedness and new working spaces—and yet, much of our experience and discussion of teaching and learning has been virtual. “Materializing the Moment” will solicit reflections and stories (anonymous or credited) that capture the complexities and materialities of returning to campus life and teaching and learning in person. Collecting stories about the materials that make up our teaching and learning experiences today, this project focuses attention on the physical, tactile, and contextualized realities of teaching and learning. It aims to provide a space to reflect on our tangible, embodied relationship with public education and our situatedness within CUNY.
Similar to the CUNY Distance Learning Archive, which documented the shift to online learning, the “Materializing the Moment” project seeks to collect and visualize the material experiences of returning to campus. The project will launch on Tuesday, March 8th and the stories, images, objects, and artifacts collected as part of this project will be integrated into a collection about this moment in the CUNY Digital History Archive.
Teaching COVID Working Group
The TLC will launch a working group that will cull readings and classroom exercises through which we can “teach the pandemic.” Specifically, these are resources that can help instructors make sense of and converse with students about phenomena that have emerged during the pandemic and that are relevant to the subjects and courses we teach. For example, for urban studies instructors, we will collect resources around urban restructuring; for those who teach policy, we will cull resources on the new policy experiments that have emerged; for history instructors, we will collect resources that historicize the pandemic. The final project will live as a bibliography on the CUNY Academic Commons. The working group will come together to share resources on Tuesday, March 29.
Communal Reflection Opportunity
In May, the TLC aims to host an in-person event at the Graduate Center where members of the community will be invited to participate in a variety of communal, reflective opportunities. Details to come.
The TLC will host three panel discussions in Spring 2022:
Teaching Alongside Crises
How do we make our teaching open to worldly events and systemic injustices, including global pandemics, biodiversity disasters, climate crises, and refugee crises? How can we learn from CUNY instructors who acknowledge urgent issues in their classes?
In this panel, we will address these questions by providing participants a space to share and examine our instructional practices. We hope to expand our pedagogical toolkits and reflect on the meanings of teaching in critical times. This event will take place on Wednesday, April 27th, on Zoom.
Teaching the Present
In the past two years, when we were all affected by the pandemic, instructors from different fields felt the need to integrate reflections on present events and course contents. While some brought data to be analyzed with the lenses of the discipline, others brought reflections on how to teach and learn under precarious health, technological and economic conditions. In “Teaching the Present,” instructors from across the CUNY system will share the strategies and pedagogies they used to incorporate the crisis into their classroom. Time and date TBA, on Zoom.
Teaching and Learning in Community College Contexts
Community Colleges are a fundamental part of the higher education landscape, the first step for many students pursuing a degree. This panel discussion will showcase the critical work of community college faculty from multiple disciplines, highlighting specific teaching strategies and pedagogical research at CUNY. Graduate Center students and anyone interested in research about teaching and learning are invited to engage with the questions that the panel will explore. The event will be co-hosted by the Teaching and Learning Center, the CUNY Humanities Alliance, and the GC Writing Center. Time and date TBA, on Zoom.
Teachers of CUNY
Teachers of CUNY is a social media project that invites CUNY teachers to share their successes, their struggles, and the many moments that fall in between those two poles. Teaching is a complex art, made more complicated by current conditions. We want to recognize and amplify the hard work, the growth, and the learning that occurs every day at CUNY. Starting in mid-March, we will be reaching out through the TLC’s mailing list and social media accounts to invite stories and images from those who teach at CUNY about their experiences. Shortly after that we will publish submissions on our Instagram and Twitter. We hope this project will inspire CUNY’s teaching community, and celebrate the skill and devotion CUNY’s teachers bring to their classrooms.
Open & Digital Pedagogy Wednesday Workshops
The Open & Digital Pedagogy Wednesday Workshops will offer guidance for teaching with CUNY’s open platforms, the CUNY Academic Commons and Manifold. These workshops aim to provide support for faculty who are looking for opportunities to increase the openness of their teaching and leverage digital tools to foster student engagement. Workshops will introduce strategies for designing assignments and projects on the CUNY Academic Commons, teaching and learning with social annotation, engaging in ungrading, and student creation of OER. For workshop schedule and registration information please visit https://tlc.commons.gc.cuny.edu/2022/03/03/open-digital-pedagogy-wednesday-workshops/.