Recap: Humanities Alliance Institute 2017, Day 1

On Friday, August 25, the Humanities Alliance welcomed our second cohort of Graduate Teaching Fellows at the first day of the program’s two day Fall Institute.
The Institute began with the use of student-centered methods, modeling the kinds of techniques that fellows will be using in their courses at LaGuardia Community College. Professor Cathy Davidson led us in Think-Pair-Share exercises to break the ice, and encourage participation and active learning among our cohort. In pairs, we shared introductions of one another, and discussed our hopes and anxieties for the coming year.
After the first Think-Pair-Share, Prof. Davidson contrasted the excitement and talk that this structured activity generated with the quiet classroom many of us encounter on the first day of class, and encouraged us to think about how to engage students by creating opportunities for them to talk to each other, and as a class, from day one. For more ideas, check out her recent post, Three Ways to Begin a Student-Centered Class.
After these introductions, Kaysi Holman, our Director of Programs and Administration, shared information about the new fellows’ responsibilities during their two year teaching fellowship, and answered questions about the upcoming year.
Humanities Alliance Graduate Teaching Fellows shadow faculty mentors at LaGuardia in Fall 2017, while preparing to teach introductory humanities courses in Spring 2018 . This year’s courses include Composition (Writing through Literature) and Critical Thinking, along with three new additions to the program’s roster: Introduction to Art, Introduction to Theater, and Fundamentals of Speech Communication.
In addition to shadowing faculty mentors, fellows participate in professional development seminars and workshops while developing a syllabus, assignments, and more for their course. Along with the program’s faculty mentors, affiliated staff at LaGuardia’s Center for Teaching and Learning, and the GC’s Teaching and Learning Center work closely with students to prepare them for teaching the humanities in a community college setting.
In the final hour of the Institute, I introduced fellows to the program’s research and evaluation and digital components.
Michael Dorsch, the program’s external evaluator, joined us via video to discuss the uses of evaluation for feedback that contributes to program development. Dorsch is a Ph.D. candidate in Earth & Environmental Sciences at the GC, and a Data Visualization Analyst in the Office of Institutional Research at California State University, Monterey Bay.
We then discussed program research as a participatory process led by the teaching fellows. I facilitated group discussions about formative and peer-to-peer classroom visits as a tool for reflecting upon and refining teaching practices, and possibilities for designing and integrating research into their teaching fellowship.
Our website developer, Lisa Tagliaferri joined us to introduce everyone to this online community platform. Dr. Tagliaferri is a digital humanist and recent Ph.D. in English from the Graduate Center. After a brief tour of the site, the fellows dived right in! In pairs, they created new accounts, learned how to edit their profiles and account settings, and how to comment on the blog.
The Humanities Alliance Institute continues with Day 2 at LaGuardia on Friday, September 8. We’ll also continue to explore this platform together in the coming weeks. On September 15, a workshop at the GC will introduce fellows to educational technologies and the digital landscape at CUNY, and LaGuardia in particular.

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