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Applications Invited for Preparing Future Faculty Seminar
CRLT is accepting applications through Friday, February 24, for the May 2017 Preparing Future Faculty (PFF) Seminar. Interested graduate students can learn more about the program here. In this guest post, past participant Leigh Korey (Ph.D. candidate in Comparative Literature) shares her reflections about the program:
I realized in my second year of grad school that I wanted to pursue a career in teaching. It was in the middle of winter term, and I had solicited feedback from students in my first-year writing class. We had spent the first few weeks discussing in detail the idea of “context,” both in a literary sense and in terms of their own writing. In their feedback to me, they communicated that the pop quizzes I administered in class to hold students accountable for their reading assignments were not working. They didn’t object to the idea of pop quizzes as an assessment tool, rather, the problem was that the questions on the quizzes felt, in their words, “decontextualized.” I knew at that moment that they had finally understood the importance of context. Moreover, I learned that the feeling of working with a group of students until they truly comprehend something is one of the most fulfilling and enjoyable parts of teaching.
Once I realized that teaching was what I was passionate about, I began to look for ways to direct my Comparative Literature degree towards this end. In January of my fourth year, I came across an announcement about the Rackham-CRLT Preparing Future Faculty Seminar (PFF). I hadn’t heard of PFF before seeing the announcement, but it seemed useful. After all, I intended to be faculty somewhere, at some point in the future, so shouldn’t I be prepared? Plus, the announcement said you left the 10-day seminar with a draft of a teaching philosophy and a syllabus; two documents I knew I would soon be needing.
The seminar itself was broken down into three areas: learning about different types of “faculty” positions, discussing and working towards getting an academic job, and working on improving teaching. We attended panels featuring tenured professors, recent research-university hires, and non-tenure track faculty to hear about their experiences getting and doing their current jobs. We met in small groups to workshop drafts of our teaching philosophies and syllabi. We discussed teaching strategies ranging from different types of feedback to give students, to how to establish an inclusive classroom environment. Not only did each of these formal components help me start to think more specifically about my career path and my teaching, but the informal conversations I had with other participants, often from entirely other disciplines, left me with specific nuggets of advice, as well as a broader network of people to reach out to as I finish up grad school. As we workshopped each other’s syllabi, or swapped teaching stories, I picked up on new strategies to implement, or new ways to approach a topic, text, or group of students the next time I taught.
I knew going in to PFF that I loved teaching, and that I wanted it to play a central role in my future career. It helped me become a more conscientious teacher and gave me both the techniques and the language to continue to develop my approach to teaching. It also encouraged me to really start thinking about how I envisioned teaching fitting in to my future faculty career, something that I have continued to explore after PFF. This is ultimately what I got out of PFF--the tools to continue exploring on my own how to move on to the next step in or after grad school, and the tools to continue improving my teaching, whether I am in front of a class every semester, or planning out future courses.
Guest blogger's photo provided by Leigh Korey.