Spring Teaching Forum
2021 Spring Teaching Forum Abbreviated Summary
For more than 20 years, Yale University has hosted a Spring Teaching Forum. The event brings together members of the Yale community — faculty, staff, postdocs, and students — to consider a particular theme related to teaching and learning. The McDougal Graduate Teaching Fellows from the Poorvu Center planned this year’s forum to reflect on our shared experience with remote instruction. A group of multidisciplinary faculty served on a discussion panel, and then participants discussed the theme in breakout rooms.
“I’ve been working to foster an emotional connection, even though we’re still stuck behind computer frames and… thinking about more ways to give power to students,” said Dr. Mira Debs, Executive Director of the Education Studies Program and Lecturer in Sociology, during the panel.
Debs spoke with Dr. Crystal Feimster, Dr. Howard Forman, and Dr. Reina Maruyama. Together, they noted the need to reflect on their teaching to make critical decisions related to maintaining academic rigor and building community. Instructors relied on their course goals as a mechanism for prioritizing what to teach during class and what students could learn asynchronously. By recording lectures, instructors repurposed time during class to examine hard questions more closely, solve problems, and apply knowledge. In the coming year, instructors voiced a desire to keep communication open so that they can respond to students’ needs and understand how their lives outside of the classroom affect their learning.
“When I go back to the classroom, I will no longer think about myself creating safe intellectual spaces, but what I call now brave intellectual spaces … it takes courage for students to speak in the Zoom box, to speak from where they are in a given moment,” said Feimster, Associate Professor of African American Studies, of History, and of American Studies.
The Poorvu Center will publish a report from the Spring Teaching Forum in the coming weeks. Look for updates on our website in early-June.
For more information, please contact Suzanne Young.