September 2020

The page features CELT Notes sent to Luther faculty members during the academic year 2020 - 2021.


28. September 2020

Here we go!
I'm very consciously keeping this week's CELT Notes short today, as I know you are all busy putting the final touches on your Quarter 1 classes.

We have no scheduled programming this week -- just three chances to ask questions and hear from your colleagues. Join us for any and all of our Drop in Q &As. You are welcome to come and go as you please. Please either register by clicking the links below, or email Kate. Also, as always, please reach out if you have any questions or would like to schedule a 1:1 consultation. 

Best Advice
A recent Chronicle of Higher Education article by Beth McMurtrie discussed what students want from their professors this fall. She summarized a recent Chronicle webinar and echoed many of our conversations over the past months. Read it here -- here are the take-aways. 

  • Connections are crucial to learning
  • Consistency matters
  • Ditch group projects if we pivot online
  • But encourage group work regardless of modality
  • Don't spend precious synchronous online time lecturing 
  • Ask students what's working and what's not


Some Technology Notes:
Campus Programming has been experimenting with using the call-in feature of Zoom as a voice amplifier. This might be of interest to faculty teaching outdoors. They have compiled step-by-step directions located here on the CELT website.
With our new log-in, professors using VoiceThread might need to merge accounts. Please consult the LIS webpage before making changes to your password to avoid problems with your VT account. 

Interested in SoLT? (Scholarship of Learning and Teaching)

Did you see this note in the Dean's Notes? 

Explorance Research Award Opportunity:  Explorance Blue has committed a total of $100,000 to be awarded to faculty in support of their research projects using assessment and/or course evaluation data.  Each faculty award will be between $10,000 and $15,000.  Faculty may use an existing research project or use the funding to support data collection in January 2021.  Grants will be awarded contingent on presentation of research findings at the Bluenotes GLOBAL 2021 conference to be held in Chicago, August 1-4, 2021.  Application deadline:  December 18.  Details at The Explorance Faculty Research Grant 2021 Call for Applications.

If you are interested in a new research project using data from your classes, please reach out to Kate and Jeff Wilkerson. We'd love to discuss your ideas!





14. September 2020

Good afternoon!
We're two weeks into our September Term and comments are starting to roll in that classes seem to be going well, the students are (still) happy to be back at it, but the stress and anxiety of spring semester is still very much present.
I feel it too, even though I'm feeling much better now that I'm back on a regular schedule (we all have our quirks!) One of my biggest stressors is all the unknowns and the sheer amount of information to process. If this is your stressor too -- I'll try to keep today's notes short, helpful, and to the point.

In the spirit of helpful: I've attached a fillable pdf for FERPA permissions for your use. Thanks to Britt Rhodes for putting it together!
Send out a Survey and Get to Know your Quarter 1 Students
With three weeks to go, you might consider sending your Quarter 1 students an "intake" or "asset" survey. This is a great way to set the tone of the quarter by getting to know your students name, pronouns, and learning goals for themselves. You can also use these surveys to gauge the technology needs (should we need to go online) or discover the assets each student brings to class. We've linked a couple of your colleagues examples to our website

Lessons Learned: Think about how you will work with students who are in quarantine

Hearing from colleagues teaching 185s this September Term, it is clear that each faculty member should have a clear plan for how they will work with students who need to self-isolate this semester. We've devoted the next two Social Hours for conversations about strategies.
Join us!

Community Ask - Crowd-source teaching ideas and innovations

Have you stumbled on a hack, or strategy, or other promising practice for teaching this fall? Have you gotten adept at a teaching technology that you'd like to share? Please let Kate know by filling out this survey. Don't be humble, share your wisdom!

Upcoming Workshops 

Upcoming Fall Quarter CELT Programming 

  • Teaching Partnerships - We are pleased to again offer a number of supported Teaching Partnerships for Fall 2020. Teaching Partnerships will be awarded to pairs of faculty who commit to visiting each other's classes (virtually or in person, given COVID-19 caps on classroom space), giving feedback on each other's teaching, and sharing strategies for improving teaching effectiveness. The application can be found here. Applications are due Friday, 10/9.
  • Cross-Curricular Conversations Groups - This is a new program that we will launch in October. The Conversation Groups are organized around a particular theme or topic and are led by a moderator (who is paid a modest stipend). The moderator is responsible for calling the group together in response to each group's particular needs and agenda. Topics include Work/Life Balance, Pre-Tenure Faculty, Equity and Inclusion in the Classroom, Education Technology Group, etc. Look for a participation sign up survey in next week's CELT Notes. 
  • Workshops and Social Hours - We'll continue to offer weekly workshops, recorded when the topic allows and Social Hours on Thursday afternoons. All programming will be via Zoom this fall. 
  • Anti-Racism Working Groups - More here soon, but if you would like to facilitate a five-week small group working through Layla Saad's Me and White Supremacy please let me know. This program will start in late October. 

Five Takeaways for Fall 2020

Finally,  I thought I'd share my friend Cate's recent blog post. Cate Denial is the Bright Distinguished Professor of American History at Knox College and a close friend and mentor of mine from graduate school. She offered five lessons learned from her summer preparing for Fall 2020. 

  1. Design for online, and adapt for other modalities.
  2. Take the time to build community. 
  3. (Largely) Ditch the class schedule.
  4. Invite students to be collaborators in their own learning. 
  5. Think seriously about equity. 

Cate ends with a bonus suggestion that I'm going to quote directly because it is so important as we head into month seven of this thing. She writes that we need to,  "Extend compassion to yourself, your colleagues, and your students. We're all facing a host of difficulties--financial, professional, familial, emotional, and psychological--and we do ourselves no favors if we pretend those aren't real and pressing concerns." 

Best to you all,



7. September 2020

Hello from the Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching!
This week marks the start of my second year in the role as Director of CELT and what a year it has been! Even with a pandemic and an emergency remote teaching pivot, I have so enjoyed working with you all this past year. I took a few days off and I'm feeling a bit more relaxed and ready to tackle whatever Fall 2020 has in store for us. 

September Term Hours

We're gearing back up for the Fall terms. Starting September 7 - CELT will be open from 9:30 to 11:30 Monday, Tuesday, Friday. We are also open on Tuesdays from 1:30 to 3:30. The door will be unlocked and you are always welcome to pop in. If you want to ensure that I'm here and not wandering the halls, send me a quick email. You should also know that our snack baskets have been restocked.
As always, Holly White (Katie, Education Tech Tools) and Mike Garcia (Writing Pedagogy) are available via email. 

Programming for September Term

Our September Term calendar is now posted. We are reviving our CELT Social Hours - now at a new time -  Thursdays from 4 to 5 pm.
On Thursday September 10, we'd love to hear some tales from the trenches, so if you are teaching this September Term, we'd love to hear how it's going. 

Please feel free to come as you are to these informal Zoom conversations and as with all CELT remote programming your littles are welcome to join you. 

We have several Workshops planned for September Term including:

  • September 8 - More than Google: Integrating Library Research in an Online Learning Environment (Freeda Brook and Holly White)
  • September 10 - What can Katie Do for Me? (Holly White and Kate Elliott) 
  • September 15 - Leading Engaging Online Discussions (Kate Elliott) 
  • September 22 and 24 - Workshop -- Writing Projects in an Accelerated Semester (Mike Garcia) 

Registration is open for next week's events. 

We are again hosting Teaching Partnerships for the fall terms. The application for Teaching Partnerships will be released next week. 

Weekly Teaching Tips - Virtual Office Hours

Here's one I haven't really thought about -- How do you host Virtual Office hours and how do you make them less awkward? 

The protocols for Fall 2020 classrooms ask faculty to hold office hours virtually this fall to maintain physical distancing. We obviously are not unique - and there has been some helpful chatter about how to make the most of these all-important sessions. 

Here are some guidelines and questions to consider as you schedule and design your virtual office hours (adapted from Kathryn Burns, Bowdoin College)
Our theme this fall is Communication for Connection, this applies to office hours too. 

  • Be explicit about the things students can talk with you about in office hours -- this is helpful to make the role of office hours transparent for all students. 
  • Communicate what students can expect from your online office hours. When will they be held? What platform will you use? How can students find the link to those virtual meetings? Why should they come?
  • Consider encouraging or requiring office hour visits as a regular check-in with every student in your class. (This will be especially important in our accelerated quarters this fall. We'll need to intervene early if a student falls behind).
  • Remember: So much information comes at students that first week of class. Consider reminding your class of the importance of office hours in Week 2.

Should you schedule appointments or have students just drop-in at a set time? 

  • Do you prefer to meet with students 1-on-1 or in groups? (If you like to meet 1:1, appointments may be the better choice) 
  • Do students benefit from hearing other students' questions and the responses in a small group? (if the answer is yes, drop-ins might be better) 
  • Are students more likely to share their challenges with you individually? (and if that is what you want, pick 1:1) 
  • Are you available when students are working on your course? (if so, set your drop-in office hours at those times, so students can pop in with questions) 

Should your office hours be set on a weekly schedule or should they be responsive to student need? 

  • Do you want to have a weekly scheduled time for office hours that is consistent over the semester?
  • Do you want to have more office hours in the days before an exam/quiz/assignment is due and not have it be as consistent over the semester?
  • Would it be useful to students if you have 1 consistent weekly time and one by appointment or on-demand?

Finally, here is what one Biology professor from Amhurst did with his office hours last spring. 

Call for Help with Outdoor Classroom Demo

If you are planning or hoping to teach outdoors in Q1, I would love to hear from you. Please email Kate

Yours in teaching,