A yearlong Poorvu Center initiative designed to promote effective teaching and learning strategies around challenging content and difficult classroom dialogues by:
Channeling national, campus, and classroom tensions into discussion across difference through venues that promote learning and deep listening;
Curating aligned resources and programs from across Yale University into a visible collection that supports effective, empathetic teaching and learning, and;
Customizing departmental support by facilitating practical workshops that address unique departmental needs.
Vision 2020 Yale Partners:
Learn more below about partnering with us: request a custom program, share or adopt resources, and/or participate in a Vision 2020 program!
Request a Custom Program
Poorvu Center staff design programs tailored to meet the specific needs of Yale schools, departments, units, and classes. Custom programs can include (and are not limited to) a departmental workshop, a conversation with instructors, or a visit to a faculty/staff meeting to address research and best practices. Consider sample programs to learn more.
Instructors, students, and teaching center staff at Yale and around the world have designed resources to support difficult dialogues and controversial content in the classroom. Check out our top ten strategies and additional resources below. If you would like to share a resource with us or request something you do not see, please email Kyle Vitale, Assistant Director of Faculty Teaching Initiatives.
Strategies for Difficult Dialogues at Yale
- Consider the diverse range of potential students a class at Yale might draw
- Review course materials to identify areas with sensitive content and consider resources below for managing this content
- Reflect on the valid, natural role of emotional response in the learning process
- Consider the syllabus and what signals it conveys about dialogue and the nature of classroom relationships
- In difficult moments, remember to pause before responding - reflect quietly, write, and listen to others
- Work to perceive and respond to people as individuals, not only component parts of their fuller identity (like race, orientation, opinion, or experience)
- Remember that emotional response is often untethered to evidential proof, and, that the nature of evidence/data varies across disciplines
- Take a few minutes to reflect on a difficult moment and write down your thoughts: Is there more to learn or read? How did you act, and how might you engage differently next time?
- Consider inviting some or all participants to discuss matters outside of class in a comfortable environment
- Consider whether the conversation should be further addressed as a class
More Resources for Managing Difficult Dialogues
Difficult dialogues can help students practice being open to new ideas and different ways of seeing.
“Difficult Conversations in the Classroom,” Dr. Suzanne Young, Yale Poorvu Center for Teaching and Learning
“Teaching Controversial Topics,” Yale Poorvu Center for Teaching and Learning
“Difficult Dialogues,” Vanderbilt Center for Teaching
“Navigating Difficult Moments in the Classroom,” Harvard Bok Center for Teaching and Learning
“Best Practices: Teaching Sensitive Course Content,” University of Minnesota Center for Educational Innovation
Start Talking: A Handbook for Engaging Difficult Dialogues in Higher Education, ed. Kay Landis (posted on Vanderbilt Center for Teaching site)
More Resources for Inclusive Teaching Strategies
Difficult dialogues are most productive in classrooms with clear expectations and obvious dedication to empathy.
“Inclusive Teaching Strategies,” Yale Poorvu Center for Teaching and Learning
“Inclusive Classroom Climate,” Yale Poorvu Center for Teaching and Learning
“Effective Classroom Discussions,” Yale Poorvu Center for Teaching and Learning
“Inclusive Teaching Resources and Strategies,” Michigan Center for Research on Learning and Teaching
“Learning Student Names,” Yale Poorvu Center for Teaching and Learning
“Establishing Classroom Ground Rules,” Washington University in St. Louis Teaching Center
Workshops and Events
The following Vision 2020 programs and events are hosted by the Poorvu Center and by partners around campus. Listings provide date, time, and appropriate audience as information becomes available. Check back regularly for new events.
Events in this Series
|Addressing Trauma in the Classroom with Object Based Learning||Wednesday, January 29, 2020 - 2:00pm to 4:00pm||
Yale University Art Gallery
1111 Chapel StreetNew Haven , CT
|Managing Difficult Dialogues in the Classroom||Monday, April 20, 2020 - 10:15am to 11:30am|
|Managing Difficult Dialogues in the Classroom||Wednesday, August 12, 2020 - 2:15pm to 3:30pm|
|Managing Difficult Dialogues in the Classroom||Friday, October 2, 2020 - 10:15am to 11:30am|