Two years ago was an exciting time in my life. My wife was pregnant with our first child, I had turned in my dossier for tenure and promotion a month earlier and everything seemed to be happening at once. Much of the semester was a fog for me, but I do distinctly remember going to my public speaking course at this time in the semester, looking at the faces, and asking myself “who are these people?” The format of the class did not lend itself well to developing relationships with the students so I had never made it a priority, but in Fall 2014 I was especially distant. It was impossible to get to know 500 students, most of which watched online and I would never meet, so I made the mistake of not getting to know any of them. The problem with that thinking was, I ended up missing out and in turn, so did they. Getting to know your students is a frequent refrain of mine, but a recent Inside Higher Ed article highlighted a few things for me that really resonated. I highly recommend reading the linked article as it offers practical advice for establishing classroom rapport rather than just encouragement to do so. As a tease, I do want to highlight one of their suggestions and the connection to a growing trend on our campus.
Drawing on the work of bell hooks in Teaching to Transgress, the authors suggest we model the same vulnerability we expect from our students. One increasingly popular tool for letting your students get to know you is “Digital Storytelling.” Celeste Jones and Seema Sehrawat have been promoting this tool and featured it at the recent CELT Conference as well as Academy-e Learning over the summer. The technology tools are simple and free, and the payoff is tremendous. There are a variety of tools, but one popular one is Adobe Spark. Digital Storytelling gives you a controlled environment to introduce yourself and a topic to your students with the aid of visuals. If you have questions or ideas about Digital Storytelling please contact Faculty Development. We are happy to provide help and put you in contact with people and resources.
Dr. Sara Cooper has provided additional Book in Common Material. Check out this section of the CELT page for regular synopsis updates, discussion questions, and other resources.
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