We value good teaching

It’s a busy week, but the basic paperwork and websites for my classes have been completed, the students have been emailed, and homework has been assigned. Before the first day of class? You betcha! I figure the only way I have to warn them that my classes are work is to assign some work due on the first day of class.

As a small distraction from all those logistics, I helped facilitate two teaching programs this week.

The first was about Piazza which I and another instructor use to promote discussion outside of the classroom. In particular, we like it when students answer each other’s questions. We also like reducing the number of times we have to answer the same question (reduction to zero is a bonus). Piazza was created by a woman entrepreneur, Pooja Sankar. Quite a role model for our women students.

The second was on the theme of getting the semester started off on the right foot, and, given that there are always a few new instructors around, advice for new instructors. I think the experienced instructors enjoyed sharing some best practices, and maybe even picked up a few good tips. I think the new instructors were exposed to a great deal of community wisdom, and heard about some valuable resources. And they have some ideas of people to approach if they have questions later.

But maybe the most important outcome for me is promoting teaching as a community value in our department. It gets lip service, but often not much else. Holding an hour long workshop or two and having faculty show up is something concrete that says that it matters.