Category Archives: Teaching Resources

TLH Team Presenting at HASTAC conference in June 2023

How to Transform a Panel: TLH Presentations at ASA, CUNY DEI, AERA, and HASTAC

The TLH team presented at 4 conferences in the 2022-2023 academic year. In November 2022, Shelly, Cathy, Christina, Jessica, Javiela and Jason had presented “Radical Tools, Radical Pedagogy: An Interactive Workshop on Teaching to Transform” at the American Studies Association (ASA) Annual Meeting. There,​ TLH members were inspired by the personalized introductions in the authors session “Insurgent Black Feminist Poetics,” chaired by Kara Keeling and including Sarah Cervenak, Erica Edwards, Kevin Quashie, Mecca Jamilah Sullivan, LaMonda Horton-Stallings, Courtney Thorsson, comment by GerShun Avilez. Instead of each presenting their own book, the authors in this session presented reviews of one another’s books—and what made the session shine was hearing what each colleague loved most about one of their colleagues’ books. This transformed each conference presentation from an egotistical or defensive maneuver into an act of admiration and support for another colleague’s work. And the audience listened with deep interest, resulting in a robust and productive Q&A session.

At the subsequent TLH presentations at the DEI, AERA, and HASTAC conferences, the team incorporated a new method derived from this transformative model. Instead of having the panel chair introduce everyone by reading their bios in a long monologue at the beginning of the session, each TLH panelist introduced another. Instead of focusing on accomplishments and publications, they shared one thing they’ve learned from their co-presenter. While key biographical histories and publications were briefly mentioned, because these details can be found online and are the traditional focus, the TLH team found the personal and relational introduction more compelling and representative of the relationships built throughout the initiative. For example, at AERA Christina shared she has learned from Grace H. to leave more space for all voices, stopping after every item in a meeting to ensure everyone has had a chance to review, reflect, and share if desired. At HASTAC, Shelly shared how supported she feels by Christina, knowing the phrase “I got you” actually always rings true when coming from her. These introductions start our presentations with a strong sense of connection, an illustration for the audience that the team truly cares for one another and thus also demonstrating the content of the presentations, a transformative and loving pedagogy. 

We’ve found that this method transforms a room into a site of community-building, inviting the audience into the positive energy we have as co-panelists who respect and admire one another’s work. We encourage others to integrate this method in their own way at future presentations, workshops, and talks.

TLH Presentations:

Self-Reflection in Practice at BMCC (TLH CTL Project Recap)

Hosted by the Center for Excellence in Teaching, Learning and Scholarship (CETLS)  and the BMCC Teaching Collaboratory 

Facilitated by John Beaumont (Academic Literacy and Linguistics) and Shenique Davis (Social Sciences, Human Services, and Criminal Justice)

Funded by a grant from CUNY Transformative Learning in the Humanities


Self-Reflection in Practice was a three-part series that supported BMCC faculty and instructional staff in developing a practice of sustained self-reflection about teaching and learning. This series also served as a complement to other campus initiatives such as anti-racist pedagogy, open pedagogy and OER, and trauma-informed pedagogy by providing a space for sustained reflection. Continue reading

Padlet showing multiple typed responses from faculty fellows. Full text is available at the end of the post.

Showing Care in the Classroom 

This is the second of a two-part post, synthesizing our final faculty seminar, with our final cohort of faculty fellows. These seminars have been at the heart of the TLH program, as we have aspired to cultivate agents of change in the classroom and beyond. During our 18 seminar sessions over the past two years, we’ve also tried to practice what we preach by fully engaging all participants in the co-learning and teaching process. One of the easiest ways to do this is by using an inventory method to make sure everyone is heard. It’s also an especially generative process for coming up with ideas that others can draw on in their teaching. For part one, check out Ideas for Teaching (and Teaching Outside) the Canon

The second half of our seminar was dedicated to topics of care in the classroom. I spoke about disability and ableism, a pervasive force in our society, and especially in higher education. I also touched on the ways universal design can not only help students with disabilities, but has been proven to benefit all students. Accommodations for disabled students in higher ed are typically given when students show proof of a disability and make formal requests through an accessibility office. While the system is set up to make sure that their federal rights are guaranteed, it also inadvertently creates more work for disabled students. They may feel stigmatized by the process, or by a system that expects people to “game” the system. 

Therefore, I invited our fellows to think about accessibility as care. Drawing on universal design principles, accommodations like having written materials in alternative formats for people who are blind or have low vision (i.e. someone who needs screen-readable text) also benefits the student who might want to read on a smart phone during their commute on the subway. It’s more common for students to request accommodations like extended time on assignments or exams, testing in alternative locations, or simply having breaks during exams. These types of requests can also benefit other students, by reducing anxiety associated with testing and grading, and by acknowledging and making time for universal needs. With that understanding, why not just make accommodations for all students? For anyone who might want to try it, I drew on Shelly Eversly’s idea for a care and community statement (below), which includes all of the resources Baruch students might need but not know about. 

Accessibility Statement

We all learn differently and may need help or support in different forms. I do my best to make sure course materials are available in formats that can be printed or read on computer or smartphone before and after we meet as a class. I also strive to make sure our synchronous sessions are accessible. If anything about this course prevents you from learning or participating, please let me know. Your input makes sure I can develop a plan to make sure everyone succeeds. I also encourage you to visit the Accessibility Services Office to see if there are additional accommodations, tools, or supports you may not know about but could benefit from. 

You might link to your campus accessibility office for additional support. Shelly also puts a version of this at the top of her syllabus each semester:

Statement of Care and Community

We care about you.  We also know that you have a life outside of school, that everyone learns differently, and that you came to college to succeed.  For all of these reasons and more, it is important for you to have ready access to the resources and services that are free and available to you as a student at Baruch.  The college’s Student Services includes counseling services, services for veterans and for families, services for people with disabilities, and services for financial and housing emergencies.  Healthy CUNY has food pantries accessible to all CUNY students in every borough. The college also offers free COVID testing.

As a Baruch student, you also have free access to Starr Career Development Center.  The Writing Center offers one-on-one help with your writing.  The Newman Library provides consultations on your research projects and online tutorials, as well as short term use of computers and other technology.  You also have free access to study spaces and places to take your online classes.

In order to build and sustain our own community, let us collectively contribute to our shared class notes and resources.  Everyone in this class is welcome to join our Whatsapp group for sharing information, course-related news, and positive vibes.

To close out our final session, we created a padlet and invited fellows to give us their final thoughts on taking what they learned from TLH forward with them. They gave us their thoughts anonymously and in the chat:

“vulnerability–both sharing my own and creating space for students to be whole, flawed humans.”

“re-read Bettina Love!  Audre Lorde!  Toni Cade Bambara!”

“create new canonical texts from more marginalized ones.”

“design my syllabus to allow more spaciousness for my students and for me.”

“talk to my colleagues about active learning tools”

“co-create more of my courses”

“aspire toward total participation in every class session”

“Make accommodations available to everyone”

“extend generosity”

“rework syllabus to include words that are less institutional and that show more care.”

“armed love”

“using more invitations in my Syllabus for community, care and recognition”

“make room to disrupt groupthink!”

“Be flexible and when in doubt, ask the students”

“Just inclusivity in general! awareness”

“Inclusivity means so many things. Syllabus diversity, inclusivity in the way we teach and include students who don’t participate in conventional ways, inclusive language on the syllabus, etc.”

“Emphasize the importance of creative thinking not only as a problem solving tool, but as a life strategy.  Let’s not follow, let’s lead!”


“I’m participating in an innovative pedagogy reading and discussion group on my campus and I’m bringing everything you all share into that space!”

“I will carry forward the practice of fostering student-to-student engagement”

“Syllabus creation as a political act: I’m really invested in rethinking how the syllabus can be a place to articulate priorities beyond course content”

“Emphasize student-centered approaches”

“I allow my students to miss two of our ten modules without penalty (nor excusing themselves) so that they can make a choice about when to prioritize other things”

“I hand out index cards at the beginning of class to let students pose a question to me that they don’t feel comfortable asking during class regarding lesson or coursework”

“This semester, I’m doing a lot of individual reflection on how we like to learn, where we like to read and/or write, and how we do our best thinking. We’re analyzing ourselves and sharing what we learn, what we already knew, and what surprises us. Just normalizing that has been super powerful for the class and for me!”

“I feel like there’s been a paradigm shift towards faculty being more in that quasi-counselor role – it would be great to have more training provided. Often doctoral students at the GC are not offered much training, if any, on how to teach, much less support mental health awareness in their classrooms.”

“And when I hear about personal difficulties (which I always emphasize they should only share with me if they want to), I give them as much flexibility as I can in my course, but also try to identify when and how I should refer them to counseling or other relevant CUNY services.”

Thank you to all of our amazing and caring faculty fellows!

Zoom screen shot from an online faculty fellow seminar with a lot of smiling faces

Ideas for Teaching (and Teaching Outside) the Canon

This is the first of a two-part post, synthesizing our final faculty seminar, with our final cohort of faculty fellows. These seminars have been at the heart of the TLH program, as we have aspired to cultivate agents of change in the classroom and beyond. During our 18 seminar sessions over the past two years, we’ve also tried to practice what we preach by fully engaging all participants in the co-learning and teaching process. One of the easiest ways to do this is by using an inventory method to make sure everyone is heard. It’s also an especially generative process for coming up with ideas that others can draw on in their teaching. For part two, check out Showing Care in the Classroom. 

We started the session by discussing the introduction to Tracie Morris’s Who Do With Words (pp. 11-23) in which Morris challenges us to think about approaching the canon through “what we, those of marginalized status, have always done when the barrage of the status quo asserts itself. We find a way shape shift cursed words, to make the onslaught of actions meant to harm, in some way meaningful, affirming, to us in another way. ” (p. 21). 

Drawing on Morris’ idea of changing her relationship to harmful texts, faculty co-directors Matt Brim and Shelley Eversley, and Pedagogy co-leader, Khanh Le offered the prompt: 

If an instructor is handed a syllabus and they can’t change it? What does one do? 

Matt summarized Shelly and Khanh’s remarks, and encouraged everyone to start thinking and writing down their strategies for teaching canonical texts: 

“Shelly transforms canonical texts by citing Black women and by referring to Black cultural expression. This is the politics of citation. Khanh redefines the terms being used: “What is standard? What is a canon?” And by choosing texts his students can connect to. Center students’ experience even with required texts.”

This modeled the exercise for everyone on the call and opened up space for dialogue through the chat, and in reading the responses out loud. Everyone shared both general strategies and specific examples of how they teach required readings (responses have been lightly edited to correct errors and provide clarity when needed):

“I am required to teach Shakespeare in my college composition class at Hunter College so I teach Taming of the Shrew and use it as a time for us to reflect on domestic violence and sexual harassment and assault on college campuses.” – Christina Katopodis 

“When dealing with mainstream/canonical texts, I often put them in historical context to add color and inclusivity to the conversation. Or, I cite a lesser-known BIPOC contemporary text/author to ask how the mainstreamed author might engage the lesser-known/obscured author. Sometimes I teach a “canonical” text and point to the moments (however brief) that indicate the presence of Black people. Think about Medusa in Greek mythology: was she so stunning that men only metaphorically turned to stone?  Were the snakes as hair, dreadlocks?”  – Shelly Eversley

“I identify with Khan’s way of teaching a canonical text by relating it to a culture that speaks to students nowadays. This is actually the only way a canonical text can survive and be read, in my opinion. I teach Great Works of Literature, and I base my syllabus off of an anthology, but I am allowed liberties. For the part of my syllabus which is formed by classics (Voltaire, Rousseau, Wordsworth, Dickinson, Ibsen, Woolf) I always find that the students identify with the texts because of the universal and timeless dilemmas they raise. Sure, they may see Candide’s optimistic determinism as mere optimism, but then it’s my job to give them context, and they have no trouble differentiating their 21st-century experience of a text from the contemporary context of that text’s publication time. [in response to a later comment] My students sometimes ask why we read ‘depressing’ texts, and I tell them we can derive satisfaction from unpacking texts that have shaped our world in bad ways as well” – Manon Hakem-Lemaire

“I am lucky in that I get to select which texts I assign to students and I rarely (if ever?) choose from the canon. But I used to have to use an anthology, so I used assignments to create space for students to write back. Students have written an analysis of the anthology intro, thinking about bias and editorial choices. They’ve also written proposals for additions to the anthology or to an altogether new anthology.” – Meghan Gilbert

“For the final unit/assignment in my American Literature Survey course, I ask students to design their own courses and course reading lists choosing texts that “speak back to” or “reconstruct” the canon and some of the canonical works we’ve discussed together. They’ve designed courses centering Black Women Writers, LGBTQIA writers, immigrant writers, and nonstandardized Englishes—such cool projects!” – Melissa Dennihy

“I think about this question in terms of my ever- (and quickly-) evolving field of queer studies. Do I still have to teach Gender Trouble, a book that transformed the field? When do newer texts displace older, canonical ones? A hurdle here is that most of the great new texts refer to the older canonical ones. This is a question I struggle with, because getting the intellectual history in place is important. I try to honor the past without getting stuck there.” – Matt Brim

“One thing I do in my memoir class is to have the class generate a reading list as a group, so that they can share and recommend texts to each other that I may not even be aware of. This decenters me as the sole creator of the syllabus. It’s very fluid. We read contemporary work by writers from the communities the students come from, and don’t think about canons. We read Ly Tran because she was part of this TLH project. And Ocean Vuong.” – Emily Raboteau

“There is a certain regard for the text that makes its way to the syllabus. It’s the bible, canon, the text(s) that matter for this course. I think about a student, M, who composed her final project for my class in response to Chavez’s Decolonizing the Writer’s Workshop (a required text for my course). She wrote at length about her alienating experiences as an Southeast Asian woman of color in her other courses at our so called liberal, progressive, diverse urban college in the heart of Brooklyn. A point of inquiry was one Prof’s syllabus. The texts were included in her final project – all white men, all cis, all canon. She composed her rage in comic book strips – the scenes were animated and screenshots of texts and emails between her and this Prof found their way too. How do I make space for all of us, to try to “do” justice? Mostly by inviting in the rage, the anger, what bell hooks describes in her talk on Thich Nhat Hanh as the ‘compost for your garden.’ What is it that we don’t want? What is it that we resist? That’s what I hope finds its way to my course and syllabus.” – Natalie Nuzzo

“I teach a sculpture lesson where students use linear, planar and geometric objects to reimagine a chapter from Italo Calvino’s book Invisible Cities.  Even though the book is centered around conversations between Marco Polo and Kublai Khan I ask students to think of the deeper meaning of the text and to use abstraction to suggest, rather than illustrate the meaning of the city described within.  Once students have chosen a chapter that they want to recreate as a sculpture, they have to translate common materials (cardboard, wire, bamboo skewers, Styrofoam and plaster) into something meaningful to them.  But the act of translation is more meaningful than just the materials they are using.  It also refers to their reinterpretation of the text as well, and allows them to reimagine themselves within the cities they create.” – Roberto Visani

“1. Role playing with characters from a text but the students are allowed to make different situations and different outcomes. 2. Introducing modern-day and more relevant artistic interpretations of the text and 3. Give students power over the text with an assignment like, ‘If you were the publisher, how would you market this text; would you even publish it?'” – Laurie Lomask

“I assign a text that will challenge the canonical one and have students historically contextualize both of the texts and see them for the time in which they were produced. Then students pull out strands of conversations between them and discuss these viewpoints. So for instance, John Berger’s Ways of Seeing with Kenneth Clark’s Civilisation”. – Nina Hien

“I teach Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH), which are structured to reinforce whiteness, hetero masculinity, settler colonialism, and very clearly “other” women, queer folks, people of color, indigenous people…everyone who isn’t a straight white christian male in the US. Since most of my students don’t start with any knowledge of LCSH, I introduce it to them through the documentary film Change the Subject about a group of undocumented Latinx college students who organized to get the subject term ‘illegal aliens’ removed. So from the jump we’re talking about the power of people to organize and effect change.” – Sarah B Cohn

“So many good ideas here! I think this has already been alluded to, but one idea when teaching canonical texts (often in film survey classes) has been to pair w/ another non-canonical text that challenges or “responds” to text in some way, and opens up the opportunity to question the constructed nature of canons. E.g. pairing a week on classical Hollywood cinema with Julie Dash’s Illusions, Mulvey’s Visual Pleasure and with bell hooks’s Oppositional Gaze” –  Elizabeth Alsop

“I’ve been thinking a lot about intellectual violence and the ways in which ‘bad’ ideas seem to persist. I think my approach to teaching difficult texts is informed by a sense that some ideas are inevitable and part of being a trained critical thinker is knowing how to both encounter those ideas on their own terms and not be afraid to speak out against what feels like inherited wisdom. In the literature classroom, racism is easy and frankly trendy to call out, everything else seems more open to debate. Using difficult texts as a way to force a conversation about complex ideas feels like a way to both foreground the ‘canon’ while also unpacking it.” – James Harris

“If it’s a western canonical text, I’m looking for a source that is BIPOC that demonstrates for students that similar thinking for students to locate their experiences, observations and thoughts in it. I try to create an atmosphere through questions and reflection for students and myself to see how such a text is myopic in choice to ignore experiences and identities familiar to me/them. If it’s a western text talking about language then I’m using texts like Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah, Amy Tan, James Baldwin, Natalie Diaz, John Keene, bell hooks, June Jordan, Doreen St. Felix and Toni Morrison to demonstrate that language and rigor or thought about power and language exists too. The hope is that they see the lineage of thought and are empowered by it rather than thinking these terms and ideas are dictated, ossified, or rarified.” – Syreeta McFadden

We hope you’ll be inspired by some of these ideas to make required readings relevant to students by connecting them to contemporary issues and other points of view. Thank you to all of our faculty fellows for bringing so much to our seminars!

Read part 2, Showing Care in the Classroom.

Definition of Ableism by Talila Lewis

Resources for Practicing Anti-Ableist Pedagogy

On Saturday, November 5, 2022, I had the privilege of conducting a pedagogy workshop at the American Studies Association conference, with my esteemed TLH colleagues and mentors, Cathy Davidson, Shelly Eversley, Christina Katopodis, Javiela Evengelista, and Jason Hendrickson. 

Anti-ableist pedagogy is a topic we’ve taken up in our TLH seminars over the past two years as another way to promote equity in the classroom. Anti-ableist pedagogy isn’t just about accessibility—making sure that all of your students can access and understand materials you use for teaching and that they can participate equally in the classroom—it’s also about recognizing and critiquing the harms caused by ableism in society and in our educational systems. It’s about accepting disability as part of human diversity and a positive identity marker, as opposed to a deficit, a reason for pity, or a justification for low expectations. Anti-ableist pedagogy is about radical acceptance of intersectional identities, unconditional respect, and a commitment to making everyone feel that their contributions are valuable. 

In the workshop, we borrowed an exercise from Dr. Jamila Lyiscot, who led a TLH workshop last year. The rules of the exercise were to first choose a whistle-blower or gatekeeper to enforce the requirement to only speak with words that have 2 syllables or less. The question was, “please describe your research (or work).” One of our participants reported being so preoccupied with following the rules that they completely missed out on the content. This simple yet powerful exercise can demonstrate how people who learn differently or English language learners might be missing the most important parts of the conversation. 

Turning to theory as another entry point into understanding ableism, we also explored models of disability, or the way that we conceptualize disability. The most commonly cited models are the medical model (defining disability as an impairment in the body in need of a cure) and the social model (defining disability as a social construction due to society’s failure to adapt to disabled bodyminds). While these models are necessarily at odds with each other, a universal model acknowledges that we have to acknowledge and accept different forms of impairment as a part of the human experience, while reforming the way that society responds to disabled people. Part of undoing the long history of oppression of disabled people starts with considering that disability is not unusual and it’s not a fixed state of being (anyone can become disabled at any time). Instead of creating separate spaces and policies for “accommodating” people with disabilities, we should be working to adapt our social environment to include everyone.

From there, we turned to defining ableism. For me, the dictionary definition falls short in describing the range of insidious behaviors towards disabled people that have been normalized by society, or the use of ability itself to undermine people based on other parts of their identities. Here, I turn to the work of activist, Talila Lewis, who concisely defines the term: 

“A system that places value on people’s bodies and minds based on societally constructed ideas of normality, intelligence, excellence, desirability, and productivity. These constructed ideas are deeply rooted in anti-Blackness, eugenics, misogyny, colonialism, imperialism and capitalism.

This form of systemic oppression leads to people and society determining who is valuable and worthy based on a person’s language, appearance, religion and/or their ability to satisfactorily [re]produce, excel and “behave.”

You do not have to be disabled to experience ableism.”

a working definition by Talila “TL” Lewis*; updated January 2021

In taking a critical look at our built and social environments, it’s not hard to find areas where this system of placing value on individuals has been used to create structural inequalities for disabled people in our society, a fact that is especially apparent in our education systems. This can be taken literally when looking at architectural barriers or information barriers, or figuratively, when considering policies and rules that subtly (or not so subtly) discourage disabled students from succeeding.

In addition to talking about how disability is defined and the harms of ableism, we ended with some ways to practice anti-ableist pedagogy:

  • Learn more about disability history and ongoing struggles for access to all parts of society. For example, much of the built world has been improved by disabled activists through what is known as the curb cut effect
  • Voice your support within your institution for spending money on structural access and information access. Accessibility is often an afterthought, given attention only when it becomes a problem, and deprioritized in budgets. 
  • Strive to create accessible learning environments through Universal Design for Learning (UDL)
    • Understand that accessibility is often a negotiation between competing needs and therefore a process. Strive for an adaptable environment that can accommodate the people in your classroom.  
    • Consider giving everyone the most commonly requested accommodations (usually extra time for assignments and tests). This takes away the stigma associated with requesting disability accommodations and helps all students.
    • Work with your campus accessibility office to make sure your course materials are accessible (text that is computer-readable is also flexible to accommodate people with a variety of vision disabilities and can be used with annotation tools that benefit neurodiverse students as well).
    • Add an accessibility statement to your syllabus to signal to students that they can talk directly to you about their access needs. Be open to suggestions for improvement. Talk about disability and access as a normal part of the college experience.  
  • “Crip” the curriculum, or incorporate disability into readings and course content. Question ableism in literature and media, social policies, or other topics. 
  • Most importantly, practice “radical acceptance” of everyone for who they are (and meet them where they are). 

Other resources from the session: 

Our slides

Padlet asking participants WHY and HOW can the classroom be a radical space for antiracist action? 

Small Axe/Acts (brainstormed with session participants) 

Additional Suggested Readings on Anti-Ableist Pedagogy:


Transformative Anti-Ableist Pedagogy for Social Justice, by 2021-2022 TLH Faculty Fellow, Dusana Podlucka

Anti-ableist pedagogies in higher education: A systems approach, by Juuso Nieminen and Henri Pesonen 


For a good primer on disability, I recommend Demystifying Disability: What to Know, What to Say, and How to Be an Ally by Emily Ladau.

For more theoretical approaches to disability and intersectionality, see Disabled Futures: A Framework for Radical Inclusion by Milo W. Obourn and The Minority Body: A Theory of Disability by Elizabeth Barnes

Creative Commons Workshop Recap

On Thursday, October 6th, TLH’s Research Assistant and Librarian Grace and CUNY Scholarly Communications Librarian Meg hosted a workshop on Creative Commons licenses for the Fall TLH Fellows. They shared a brief introduction to Creative Commons, which provides a standardized way to share work and grant permission for others to use your work, relevant for TLH Public Knowledge Projects, different academic works, and creative content more broadly. There are several different CC Licenses, (some allow for remixing works, some require noncommercial use, some require the same license be applied) and it’s best to review all the options and decide if a CC license is appropriate, and which is best for your given project. Important considerations include licenses cannot be revoked or changed, and you can specify how you want others to credit you. Meg emphasized it is important to communicate to students that they automatically own the copyright to their work, and from there can decide how and if they want it shared. Grace discussed how it’s important to be clear with students and collaborators on how work will be shared, and to choose together the right license before making a project public, whether it be on CUNY Academic Works, CUNY Academic Commons, or other spaces. Fellows brought interesting questions related to their own past collaborative work, and the group parsed out the differences between public domain, fair use, and Creative Commons. Meg emphasized how granting public permissions to share work can determine what maintains relevance long-term by nature of being allowed to be copied and disseminated. While librarians are not lawyers and copyright in practice is largely shaped by different court case decisions, it is helpful to discuss with librarians and research your rights to your work in order to make informed decisions on how to best share it. 

Teaching Resources from TLH Fellows Asrat Amnie and Anita Cheng

TLH Fellows work to foster equitable, creative, student-centered pedagogical methods throughout CUNY. We’re delighted to share these resources developed by fellows, Asrat Amnie (Hostos Community College, Fall ’22) and Anita Cheng (Hunter College & Brooklyn College, Fall ’21) that address the use of educational technology in the classroom.

Universal Design for Learning: Fostering Neurodiversity, Equity, and Inclusivity Through Educational Technology

Pulling Distance Learning Tools Into In-Person Classes

New College Classroom: Changing Ourselves, Changing Our Classroom, Changing the World! (Event Recap)

by Kelsey Milian Lopez

This recap was originally published on the Futures Initiative blog

On Wednesday, September 7th at 3:00 pm, CUNY and collegiate-wide affiliated participants gathered at CUNY Graduate Center’s Skylight room to discuss Cathy N. Davidson and Christina Katopodis’s new book The New College Classroom. In-person tickets were sold out. With nearly 400 attendees over zoom, this turned out to be one of CUNY’s biggest in-person events since the beginning of the pandemic. Both the CUNY Chancellor and GC Provost stayed for the entire event.

Left to Right: Cathy N Davidson, Chancellor Felix Matos, Christina Katopodis, GC Provost Steve Everett.

You can watch the full event recording here and view slides here

Continue reading

Imagining a CUNY without Grades: A Podcast and Manifesto by and for CUNY Students

One of the spring Fellows public knowledge projects was a podcast and manifesto, organized by Michael L. J. Greer (Brooklyn College), Gisele Regatao (Baruch College), Rebecca L. Salois, (Baruch College) and Casandra Silva Sibilin (York College). The Fellows were joined by twenty students in a conversational podcast on ungrading. The conversation revolved around the following key questions: How does/could/should grading work at CUNY? What does grading mean to students? How do they perceive the concept of ungrading? What do they think of the ungrading practices they have experienced so far? Eight of the students asked questions and engaged in the conversation verbally, and the remaining twelve students participated in the written manifesto after reflecting on the conversation that took place during the podcast recording. The result is an engaging recording where students and professors discuss their experiences of ungrading, and explore the function that grades have played in their own lives. Students think about the virtues and potential downsides of ungrading at CUNY, discussing their fears, hopes, joys, and frustrations. The professors weigh in on questions students have around the value of ungrading, and the podcast ends with a brainstorm on how students might participate in creating a CUNY without grades. The collective manifesto that accompanies the podcast declares a vision for what a CUNY without grades would look and feel like. The podcast, manifesto, and a list of resources on ungrading are compiled in the website Imagining a CUNY Without Grades.

Event Recap: Liberation Literacies Pedagogy: At the Intersection of Language, Race, and Power with Dr. Jamila Lyiscott

In her workshop on April 5th, Dr. Jamila Lyiscott, aka, Dr. J, began by thanking all those who made this event happen, as the quest towards justice cannot be taken for granted. We were then put into breakout rooms for a short activity, with the following instructions:

1. Choose a ‘whistle-blower’

2. Answer the question, “should multiple literacies be allowed in classrooms?”

3. You are only allowed to use two syllables or less for the duration of the conversation

4. If this rule is broken, the ‘whistle-blower’ should make an obnoxious sound

In the reflection afterwards participants discussed how the limitations robbed their motivation to speak, but not because they had nothing to say. Dr. J shared how this exercise helps to reveal how harmful education spaces can be: enforcement of “standard” language norms turns faculty into “whistle blowers” robbing students’ motivation, while also preventing enforcers from hearing students. To combat these linguistic constraints, Dr. J pointed to the liberatory capacity of languages and the cultural practices of people of color in particular. She noted how she includes a unit in all of her classes on the cipher, sharing a poem of her own, “The Art of the Cipher,” on bringing liberatory practices into the classroom, asking at one point, “how many students do we label illiterate by societal standards?”

Dr. J discussed code-switching as a continuation of colonial violence, requiring a certain language in order to be validated within the classroom and other institutions. She referenced the work of Dr. Geneva Smitherman and Dr. April Baker Bell who both highlight language as a site of cultural struggle, a marker of social mobility. 

Dr. J then played a clip from Glamour,Uzo Aduba Never Liked Her Name,” where Uzo explains she asked her mother to call her Zoe because no one can say Uzoamaka, and her mother replied that if they can say other names (e.g.,Tchaikovsky, Michelangelo, Dostoyevsky), they can pronounce yours. Here Dr. J emphasized how our classrooms are not neutral spaces, and if we don’t intentionally work toward racial equity and healing, we are holding up social injustice.

Dr. J asked participants to reflect on the complicity they have in the institutional rewarding of Eurocentric knowledge and language practices. She outlined how liberation is different from inclusion in that it is about systemic change, breaking down oppressive logics, not reforming a broken system, not just having people of color doing the same work that upholds oppression. She discussed how the case of George Floyd and the media’s focus on underlying health conditions and intoxicants is another example of racist literacy practices; sharing literacies and language is not just about words — they contain cultures and histories.

She continued with suggestions on how to put liberation literacies into practice, including challenging paradigm principles, divesting from racist logics, and demanding participatory action and institutional alteration. It means pushing back against impulses to demand students of color perform whiteness to gain success: “Standard language is the language of people in power, it is not the language of power.” 

Dr. J read the poem “(Untitled)” by Brian Yoo, written in response to Texan lawmakers suggesting Asian people adopt easier names. The event then moved to a lively Q & A portion, with discussions on how to best support students so they can develop their voices and identities while being honest about how the world and the university institution operates, while working collectively to dismantle it.