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.
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
Sample Liaising Activities
Building community among graduate students in Music (2022-23)
Co-LTFs Anya Wilkening and Grant Woods collaborated in both Fall 2022 and Spring 2023 to curate a week of events for graduate student instructors in the Music department. With the help of some additional funding from their department, these “Pedagogy Weeks” consisted of two pedagogy workshops on topics such as using primary texts in music and strategies for maintaining academic integrity–followed by a pedagogy happy hour at the end of each week.
Bringing together faculty and graduate students to talk about pedagogy in Astronomy (2022-23)
Co-LTFs Jennifer Mead and Ryan Golant, along with a department postdoc teaching fellow, launched Teaching Teas, a monthly gathering of department members (including undergraduate students, graduate students, postdocs, and faculty) to discuss successes, challenges, and best practices in teaching. Sample discussion topics included: What is Teaching? The Greatest Hits of Teaching, and How to assess students in the age of AI/ChatGPT.
Assessing and responding to pedagogical needs in Earth and Environmental Sciences (2022-23)
Through the monthly “Learning Lunches” she hosts–where students meet with faculty in an informal setting to discuss pedagogical practices and challenges–LTF Garima Raheja is able to continually assess and communicate with faculty about graduate students’ needs and interests around pedagogy and pedagogical development. Garima also communicates about these lunches and other opportunities (her own LTF-led events and other events organized via the CTL) in monthly newsletters she sends to graduate students in her department.
Bringing Microteaching to the School of the Arts (2022-23)
After attending a Microteaching session at the CTL, LTF Selden Cummings realized that hosting a local session of Microteaching at the School of the Arts would be a productive way to offer pedagogical support to his peers and introduce colleagues to CTL services. He organized his LTF event in Fall 2022 around the Microteaching format and, further convinced of the value of this approach, began working toward institutionalizing Microteaching as an offering hosted locally, and as a “staple” of the Writing Department at the School of the Arts. Currently, Selden is working toward his vision to establish Microteaching at SOA.