Welcome to February, that short, bleak, month into which we pack the celebration of two presidents, four hundred years of Black History, and the hearts and flowers of romantic love. It’s the longest stretch of the semester without a break, and if you began the semester already tired, as I did, it may all just seem like too much.
The Faculty Hub held two sessions on sustainable teaching recently, and we listened as we also discussed recovering our joy and purpose, boundary-setting, and finding efficiencies. What we heard is what you probably already know: that the past five semesters have both created and exposed enormous challenges to our conventional teaching practices. We simply cannot go on as before and be either equitable or sustainable.
So we invite you to think with us as we focus this month on the twin challenges—and promises—of equity and sustainability. On February 11, we welcome Dr. Bedelia Richards, founder of RaceTalk LLC and Associate Professor of Sociology, for a facilitated conversation on creating an inclusive environment in the classroom. Learn more and register here. Dr. Richards draws on her research and teaching practice to offer sustainable and effective practices for building trust and supporting all students, especially those with marginalized identities. We are also happy to welcome Dr. Janelle Peifer, Assistant Professor of Psychology, as our newest Faculty Hub Associate. You can read more about Dr. Peifer elsewhere in this newsletter; she’ll be working with us to facilitate conversations on building affective capacity for avoiding and dealing with microaggressions. Both faculty and students have been asking for these conversations and we are delighted to be able to offer them.
We also invite you to continue to think with us about how to make our own practices more sustainable. Whether that’s “bundling” Zoom appointments and working from home sometimes to avoid a commute, or streamlining assessments and feedback to be both more timely and more efficient, we’d love to talk about solutions that work. You may also find some of them in our Morning Blend archive—a sustainable approach to faculty development, with 10-15 minute recorded presentations and tip sheets on a variety of topics for you to access on your own time. (Or, of course, join us live on Thursday at 9 am (over Zoom) or Friday at 10:30 in the Hub for the newest offerings!)
Finally, sustainability is a matter of equity: we cannot serve our students if we don’t take care of ourselves, and of the environment around us. And our students deserve to see us setting boundaries and taking care, so that they, too, learn these important skills for themselves. I hope we can work together, not only during this short month but every month, to raise our awareness of how sustainability and equity are linked—to slow down, take a deep breath, and focus on what really matters.
Coordinator for Faculty Development in Teaching, Faculty Hub, and Professor of English