Monday, August 1, 2016

Small Teaching in Colombia: A Photo Essay

Last year I was contacted by the Universidad del Norte in Barranquilla, Colombia, about the prospect of giving some faculty workshops on teaching and learning at their annual summer event.  I was thrilled at the prospect, and eventually we agreed that I would spend a day and a half working with interested faculty on the ideas from Small Teaching, as well as provide a keynote on my book Cheating Lessons for a conference they were hosting. I spent a very busy and enjoyable week in Barranquilla, hosting these events and meeting with other faculty and staff from their teaching center, after which my wife and a friend joined me for a few days of relaxation in Cartagena.

Here are a few photos from that trip (the first seven of which are credited to Universidad del Norte), which concluded a couple of weeks ago.  I will be returning to Barranquilla and making my first visit to Bogota in September, where I will be working with three universities on a Fulbright Specialist grant to help create a MOOC on teaching and learning for Latin American faculty. Very happy and excited to return to Colombia next month!

Opening presentation on the theory and practice of small teaching.

The morning session had more than one hundred faculty in fixed auditorium seating--not ideal for interactive workshops, but we did our best!

Second day, with a little bit of discussion of Carol Dweck's theory of the growth mindset.

Final session of the second day, focused on theories of motivation that lend themselves to small teaching approaches.

Pausing for some green tea--an activity which will strike readers of Small Teaching as a familiar one for me.

The keynote on Cheating Lessons on Friday morning--another very crowded room.

Boy, do I seem to love to gesticulate.

Work all done, enjoying dinner with my wife at Carmen's in Cartagena.

An inspiring visit to the church of St. Peter Claver, the saint of the slaves.

Farewell from my scuba diving trip to the Rosario Islands off the coast of Cartagena.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Small Teaching Update

Last week I finished my final campus visit for the spring semester, with the opportunity to give a keynote speech and a workshop on my new book, Small Teaching: Everyday Lessons from the Science of Learning, at Columbus State Community College in Ohio.  This represented a nice almost-homecoming for me, as I was able to be in my home state of Ohio (I grew up in Cleveland) during the final games of the NBA championships series.  I'm not much of an NBA fan, but it was a pleasure to see the Cavaliers give to so many Clevelanders the championship they thought they might never live to see.

Since the publication of Small Teaching, I have been very humbled and pleased to receive many such invitations to give keynote speeches, lectures, or workshops on the book to faculty on college campuses around the world--close to three dozen invitations in the past three months.  I count travel as one of my great pleasures in life, and so I relish the opportunity both to speak about the book and see new places. The next few months include trips to Colombia and Budapest, both of which I am incredibly excited about.  The docket also includes much-anticipated visits to Salt Lake City, Santa Monica, Baton Rouge, and more.

Giving the keynote at St. Joseph's University's
conference on teaching and learning in June 2016
One of the reasons that these events have been so enjoyable to me has been the opportunity to observe faculty brainstorming ways to put the small teaching strategies in action in their own courses.  This happens especially when we have time to settle in and let people collaborate in an interactive workshop environment.  I have heard people express many good ideas that made me think immediately: "I wish I could go back and put that one in the book!"  And it has been especially joyful to see when the small teaching model empowers people to make a positive change to their teaching.

But I still work full-time at my own institution, both directing our center and teaching courses in British literature, and this fall will be spending a month in Colombia on a Fulbright Specialist grant to help three universities there create a MOOC on teaching and learning in higher education for Latin American faculty.  All of these obligations mean that I have, at this point, accepted as many speaking invitations as are feasible for me throughout the 2016-2017 academic year, right through May of 2017. My own students and institution have to take priority in my life--not to mention my family, who seem to like to have me around at least some of the time.

So my apologies in advance to folks who were thinking about inquiring about a Small Teaching workshop or keynote next year--please keep me in mind for the 2017-2018 year. I am still very open and available for local events (within a 2-3 hour drive of Worcester), but nothing that involves an overnight stay.  I'm also very open and available to meet with faculty reading groups via Skype (or whatever video conferencing software you might use).  I had an opportunity to do this with the faculty at Indiana State in late May, and I very much enjoyed it.

I hope folks continue to enjoy Small Teaching.  If you see me out and about in the world, please come up and introduce yourself--I am always happy to talk teaching with faculty.