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Creating Communities of Care in our Classrooms – Event Recap and Recording

This 1-hour interactive, peer-to-peer workshop featured four Mellon TLH Faculty Fellows, Lara Saguisag (College of Staten Island), Jason Hendrickson (LaGuardia Community College), Reiko Tahara (Hunter College), and Cheryl C. Smith (Baruch College). It was an opportunity to have an honest dialogue with students and colleagues about some of the experiments the fellows have been doing to create communities of care in their classrooms. Presentation titles are: “Students Perception of Care in the Classroom” (Saguisag); “Language as (Em)Power(Ment)” (Hendrickson); “Student-led Classrooms as a Practice of Care” (Tahara); and “Poetry as a Practice of Care” (Smith). After the the presentations (10min each), the rest of the hour was spent hearing from participants and engaging in student-centered discussions about creating learning communities of care.

Watch now:

Creating Communities of Care in our Classrooms

This 1-hour interactive, peer-to-peer workshop featured four Mellon TLH Faculty Fellows, Cheryl C. Smith (Baruch College), Jason Hendrickson (LaGuardia Commu…

Accessibility in the Classroom – Insights and Questions from TLH Faculty Fellows

On September 28, our Fall Cohort of TLH Faculty Fellows convened for the first meeting of the semester to plan public events and contributions to knowledge. I also led a discussion about accessibility in the classroom by talking about why it’s important, what the institutional process is like (i.e. students request services through their campus disability services office, which acts as a liaison between student and teacher) and how that may or may not be effective. According to the National Center for Education statistics, nearly half of students with disabilities end up dropping out before they finish (link opens in a new window). According to one study, stronger self-advocates were more likely to complete their degrees (link opens in a new window), but that puts the onus on students to advocate for their needs semester after semester, which can become a barrier to success.

We started the discussion by first polling our fellows on their knowledge of accessibility accommodations, current experiences teaching disabled students in their courses, and types of accommodation requests.

The fellows rated themselves as generally having average experience with accessibility issues and no-one considered themselves to have very limited knowledge or to be very knowledgeable.

Question 1 results (image link opens to interactive chart)

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TLH Office Hours Recap: Ungrading

On Tuesday, September 14th, we held virtual TLH Open Office Hours with the Mellon TLH Faculty Fellows. We had 11 participants, who shared their experiences with grading and ungrading (alternative forms of assessment).

Some of the challenges discussed included the tedium of grading in Blackboard; helping students understand how scaffolding works (and that missed assignments can snowball into weaker bigger-stakes assignments); guiding student decisions in co-created assessments; and, more generally, increasing student engagement and self-motivation.

Faculty also shared useful tips and strategies, such as:

  • talking students through HOW and WHY a given type of assessment or type of assignment works can help them understand the mechanics and gain a grasp of how syllabi and even institutions function–learn the unspoken rules and how to navigate them, an especially important skill for those who feel underprepared for college;
  • using group work (and peer review) to help extroverted students manage their speaking-time and help shier students open up (e.g., put all of the “extroverts” in one group and all the “introverts” in a different group);
  • asking students to set goals and learning outcomes for themselves at the beginning of the semester and, later, asking them to self-assess how close they came to achieving those goals (individual and/or collective) by the end of the semester;
  • making connections between the course content and students lives (e.g., ask students what they are most curious about).

I also presented a brief slide deck with some examples of ungrading, which you can view here.

[The cover of the book, Ungrading: Why Rating Students Undermines Learning (and What to Do Instead), edited by Susan D. Blum, appears in the foreground, standing on top of a pile of more copies of the book, in front of a vase of flowers and a window with a view of a red brick building in the background.]

Resources

Mellon TLH Faculty Fellow Michael L. J. Greer kindly shared some further resources with me after the workshop:

  1. an article about self-grading that she used as inspiration for her own ungrading methods (he students do a self-assessment which counts for 15% of their final grade) https://www.hsmitchellbuck.com/2019/08/14/adventures-in-ungrading/
  2. a resource on alternative grading that has been circulating in graduate student circles: https://docs.google.com/document/d/149qAwct6amhY1YnDIxjDKw_6w0AkfpV8hMg515LPRzU/edit

If you’d like to dive in further this semester, there is an #Ungrading Edcamp happening this November 4-6, 2021 (registration is free and the agenda will be informed by what participants are most interested in, so sign up and add your thoughts here).

For further reading, see:

TLH Office Hours Recap: Accessible Course Design and Hybrid Teaching

On August 31, 2021, TLH held the first office hour session with 9 of our faculty fellows. We kicked off the session with a short, high-level presentation about accessible course design which was followed by a discussion about challenges that professors have encountered while teaching online during the past year, with making their course materials accessible on short notice, providing other accommodations to students, and with technology platforms that are not always accessible or user friendly. During the discussion, faculty fellows shared some of the tools and techniques that have worked well for them and bringing up questions that also informed the topic. Overall, it was a productive hour and we really enjoyed the knowledge-sharing! We added 3 more slides to our presentation with some of the resources. 

Stay tuned for our next TLH Office Hourse, on September 14 at 4 pm. TLH Executive Director, Christina Katopodis will lead a discussion on ungrading and peer review.

Accessible Course Design and Hybrid Teaching after COVID

Image: CUNY mascots pose with members of the CUNY Coalition for Students with Disabilities (CCSD) at the 2018 NYC Disability Pride Parade.

The pandemic forced a rapid shift to online teaching, but what will we return to and what will we adapt in the future? Some students have benefited tremendously from a move to online learning, especially those who have difficulty with public transit due to a disability, difficulty affording transportation, or a long commute to class. Other students have struggled with having only online or asynchronous courses and learn best with in-person instruction. Educators have been forced to innovate during the past 18 months under the cloud of the pandemic and its related crises, and with the larger systemic problems that higher education was facing before COVID.  Continue reading

Toni Cade Bambara’s Pedagogical Practices for Learner-Centered Communities

This post was written by Contributing Author Sonia Adams, a PhD candidate at St. John’s University who organized an event in TLH’s Spring 2021 series on active learning.

Toni Cade Bambara has greatly impacted my work as an educator and curriculum developer. I admire her commitment to literacy education, creativity, multiculturalism, and social justice. During my undergraduate studies in English, I was fortunate to take literature classes and seminars that exposed me to writers of color from the United States and abroad. However, I noticed a trajectory within many of the required, standardized, and special topic English courses, which privileged White male authors and texts. The western literary canon perpetuates an aesthetic that Bambara referred to as the “Anglo-Saxon tradition” that limited entryway for women and ethnic writers to enter the English curriculum (Bambara, “Summer 1968 SEEK Report). Although there were some gains made in late 1960s and early 1970s in making the curriculum more inclusive, there were some women and ethnic authors who served as ‘minority representatives. In other words, their writings were deemed the standard for the racial, gender, and/or cultural group which they derived from. Bambara foresaw the implications of white patriarchal privileging and minority representation and sought to challenge them as an English Professor, writer, editor, and activist.  Continue reading

Student Self Portrait Artworks created by LaGuardia Community College students in the workshop Seeing Each Other: Identity Self-Portraits

Professor Dahlia Elsayed and Professor Liena Vayzman
April 13 and 20, 2021

Kyana Neil

This is a representation of my activist side and my normal side. By bringing art and social justice together, I decided I wanted to remake a famous painting by Norman Rockwell. My head is served on a silver platter, hard to ignore, but I have very vibrant 60s/70s influenced makeup on. I’m surrounded by people laughing and talking, but all of the white people surrounding me have copied my makeup… and now the laughing seems to be more of a “haha we look just like her.” I tried to connect the “Culture Vulture” experience people of color always go through. Famous celebrities like Kim Kardashian and Gwen Stefani are infamously known as Culture Vultures… they wear people’s culture like it’s a costume. (From Asian, Native American, Black people, and much more!) And me a person of color, surrounded by white onlookers is having the first-hand experience of only being a “thing to eat, or to take from.”

Kyana Neil self portrait Continue reading

Who Set The Fires? Interrogating the 1969 Student Protests at Brooklyn College (CUNY)—A Theater for Development Project

by Dale Byam, Ph.D., Department of Africana Studies, Brooklyn College

In 1968, 19 (later reduced to 17) Black and Latino Brooklyn College students were arrested in their homes on charges of arson and rioting at the college. The students were detained at Rikers Island for 4 days. Though the charges were later dismissed, the incident marked a turning point for the College

Original caption: Mock Funeral: Students at Brooklyn Collee yesterday mourning “the death of justice,” referring to indictment and arrest of 17 students for arson and rioting. Girl in the foreground read Plato as the demonstrators passed by.

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2021 Health Communication Symposium Recap

by David H. Lee, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Communication, Department of Humanities, New York City College of Technology

There are large disparities in health outcomes for New Yorkers according to race, gender, income, education, ability, etc. CUNY students from low-income families and racialized groups are among the hardest hit by the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic and among the most impacted by furloughs, unemployment, and crowded living conditions.

The 2021 Health Communication Symposium at City Tech was a public forum on health disparities. The event took place online and included guests and speakers from around the world. There were over eighty people on the call. Continue reading

A Free Printable Bookmark from the “Philosophy for Children Workshop: Anti-Racist Conversations at Any Age”

At the Philosophy for Children Workshop on Thursday, April 22, Prof. Cheri Carr (LaGuardia Community College) with her students Jesus Benitez and David Ortiz, talked about how inclusive thinking begins with how we treat our children. Between ages 2-5, children internalize racial bias and display attitudes similar to adults. By age 12, many children become set in their beliefs. Caring and invested educators and parents can unintentionally perpetuate anti-Black racism by promoting a colorblind approach to race stemming from their discomfort navigating conversations on race. Not talking about race reinforces racism in young children; talking about it encourages the development of positive attitudes and skills needed to advocate for racial justice. Continue reading