As they work to build community around teaching among their peers, Lead Teaching Fellows assess needs, make connections, and encourage graduate student pedagogical development in their home departments. They are their departments’ links to the conversations, resources, and programs offered to graduate students by the CTL.
In the fall semester, LTFs identify teaching needs, resources, and goals for engaging their peers, and they coordinate with DGSs and other pertinent faculty and staff in their home departments. In the spring semester, LTFs continue to build community, help recruit LTFs for the following year, and make recommendations to CTL for ways it can support teaching-related needs in the department.
Sample Liaising Activities
Building community around a current teaching need: Teaching with AI (Psychology, 2023-24)
Through conversations with administrators, faculty, and graduate students in his department, LTF Christian Mott (Psychology) learned that there is a wide variety of different perspectives on the use of AI by teachers and students in the department, as well as a lot of interest in establishing a set of consistent guidelines. Given these needs, Christian decided to hold informal meetings with graduate student TAs and professors in the department to talk about their questions, needs, interests, and policies with regard to AI in the classroom. Heading into Spring 2024, Christian plans to compile a document on the use of AI in the classroom that could be circulated around the department as a potentially useful resource when setting policies and developing syllabi.
Creating a longitudinal view of departmental teaching needs and interests (DEES, 2023-24)
As part of an effort to better understand the teaching-related needs of graduate students in Department of Earth & Environmental Sciences (which spans many campuses, including Morningside, Lamont, the Climate School, and even NASA GISS and the American Museum of Natural History), LTF Miriam Nielsen partnered with the Graduate Student Committee (GSC) to identify google surveys spanning multiple years. Recognizing the value of such data, heading into the Spring 2024 semester, Miriam is working on creating a survey that can be used semester-after-semester and year-after-year (and hopefully see positive trends!). Such a resource would be beneficial not only to future LTFs in DEES, but also to the department overall.
Leading a field trip to the Center for Teaching & Learning (School of the Arts, 2023-24)
In December 2023, LTF Eunsun Whang led a group of SOA students on a “field trip” to the CTL. Planned to coincide with the CTL’s weekly office hours for graduate students, during this field trip, SOA students met CTL staff, toured CTL spaces, gained insights into the Teaching Development Program (including SOA-specific suggested timelines and strategies), learned about the Lead Teaching Fellowship, and made plans for future CTL engagement. The event was such a success, Eunsun plans to coordinate another field trip in Spring 2024!
2020-21 Lead Teaching Fellow in Music
“I encourage LTFs to think about both short-term and long-term changes they might be able to make…and how their liaison goals can include generating structures, relationships, and systems that can be the foundation upon which future LTFs will build.”
Liaising highlights: Worked with co-LTF in the department to design and propose a mentorship program for TA’s and first-time Music Humanities instructors. Met with DGS and Chair to discuss this proposal.
2019-20 Lead Teaching Fellow in Classics, 2020-21 Senior Lead Teaching Fellow
“I found that we made a lot of ground with envisioning liaison work once I re-framed it as ‘community-building’…I know that phrase doesn’t cover everything that liaison work is, but when I think about the liaison work that my LTFs did, a common goal of it was to build community around pedagogy, both within the department, between other departments, and in conjunction with the CTL.”
Liaising highlights: Worked with co-LTF in the department to create, distribute, and analyze an anonymized survey in order to document and synthesize data and experiences in online teaching
Lead Teaching Fellow in Anthropology, 2020-2021
“I really benefited from being an LTF. My confidence as a leader in my department and as a TA has grown so much.”
Liaising highlights: Worked with co-LTF in the department to host Zoom Coffee Hours to answer questions from TAs and connect new TAs to more experienced colleagues, , launched a new Anthropology TA Slack channel.
Lead Teaching Fellow in Music, 2021-2022
“What I do think I did especially well was creating vulnerable spaces for discussing pedagogical issues, and making my events feel less like more work to do and more like a frank conversation with a collection of smart friends. I would encourage all future LTFs to think about their role as primarily one of connection and space-creation.”
Liaising highlights: Conducted “pedagogy lunch chats” along with co-LTF in the department, met with prospective LTF applicants
Lead Teaching Fellow in Earth and Environmental Sciences, 2020-2021, Senior Lead Teaching fellow in 2021-22
“I think a lot of people in my department now are taking a more holistic approach to their grad student experience – focusing on research, pedagogy, inclusion, etc. Therefore, I am happy that my events and liaising activities could provide a convenient and productive outlet for these goals. Many people are looking to diverge from the traditional R1 research professor route, and I think being a part of pedagogy discussions and training in the CTL gives them the confidence that they can pursue teaching as a career. It also gives them the validation that other people are interested in a more teaching-related career track as well. For students who are interested in still going the R1 research track, it strengthens their overall repertoire for a professorial role.”
Liaising highlights: attended Graduate Student Committee (GSC) meetings in LTF capacity, organized a department-wide workshop and conversation on Inclusive and Culturally Competent Pedagogy