Wednesday, September 14, 2011

I teach to go to meetings

I used to think my job was to teach, but now I think I teach to go to meetings. The meetings begin at 8;00 or 9:00, are shoe-horned in between classes and don't stop until 5:00 or 5:30, but many things are eventually getting done.

In General Education, we have combined a first-year Women's Studies course with English Composition. The collaboration of classes involves a Women's Studies and English teaching duo that further coordinates with another first-year course, in say, Nutrition, Psychology, Statistics or Climate Studies. The teachers and students in these courses make up a Living/Learning community, where we hope that by sharing curriculum and ideas, students will look for and find connections across disciplines. It involved a lot of planning, thus meetings.

Our Russell Sage College Curriculum Committee approves new courses and the changes to existing courses. We meet once a week. Our goal for the year is to continue the overhaul of general education at Sage. We have had the current curriculum in place for over 15 years and while we have piloted new programs, we have yet to formally make major changes. Students now take a "Chinese menu" of courses--two from natural sciences, two from social sciences, four from humanities and various cross-cultural and capstone courses. Our charge now is to look at what skills we think all students should cross the stage with at graduation and use that for our foundation of courses.

It only involves getting the input, buy-in and then approval of the entire Sage faculty. Simple, right? We'll see...after many more meeting.

Our Theatre department's new Theatre Institute at Sage is shaping up plans for the year. Meetings are being held to discuss making the Institute a resource for the entire campus. NYSTI was a great resource for our department, but did not often collaborate with the wider Sage community. We think it is important to begin sharing resources and ideas with departments like Education and English, to integrate and appreciate each other's work. All it takes is meetings to get it done.

So why am I blogging at 6:00 a.m.? I have one class and four meetings today. Add grading to that and maybe lunch and there won't be time for blogging later. I teach to meet.

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