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Walking the Talk: Mission-Driven Teaching and Advising at Beloit

Walking the Talk:  Mission-Driven Teaching and Advising at Beloit

Since Fall 2012, several groups on campus have been studying and discussing teaching and advising in Beloit’s new curriculum, with particular focus on student agency, social identity and intercultural engagement, and quantitative reasoning.
This year, we aim to broaden those conversations through a series of faculty and staff development sessions offered over the lunch hour (12:30-1:20) on alternating Wednesdays and Mondays.  Each conversation will continue over two or more sessions; the first (on a Wednesday) will lay out issues conceptually by asking broad questions; subsequent sessions (held on Mondays) serve as “toolboxes,”  deepening the earlier conversations while seeking to provide useful strategies and tools that help us put our goals into practice.

Sessions for Fall 2013 are sessions organized around four themes:

1. C-ing Beloit:  Intersections Among Curricula, Pedagogies, and Scholarship

2. Fostering Agency and Reflection

3. The Academic Life and the Advising Relationship

4. Looking Back, Looking Forward:  Shaping a Life Narrative

Wednesday, September 4: “C”-ing Beloit, Mathers

The focus of the first conversation will be “C”-ing Beloit.  In the Wednesday-Monday sessions we will question our assumptions about the “C” requirement and its implications for how we conceptualize  curricula, pedagogy, advising, and scholarship.  Claude Steele’s campus visit early in September to discuss his research on stereotype threat dovetails nicely with and will hopefully usefully inform our deliberations.

Monday, September 9: Claude Steele:  Alleviating Stereotype Threat at Beloit Moore Study Lounge

This question-and-answer session will focus on advising at Beloit, social identity, and the role of stereotype threat.

Monday, September 16: “C”-ing: Beyond Content, Weeks

This session considers how our scholarship, teaching, and advising practices reflect our social identities and how these affect our students.  We’ll consider how we as instructors can be more conscious of what we bring to the classroom, of how what we bring affects classroom climate, and how we might use our experiences to teach effectively.
Wednesday, September 18: Student Agency and the Beloit Curriculum: Teaching and Advising Toward Our Own Obsolescence, Mathers

Exercising agency -- owning and investing in one's educational and life trajectory -- is crucial to the effective practice of the liberal arts, and requires critical self-reflection and internalization of learning goals. Readiness to exercise agency distinguishes Beloit's finest students and enables them to be take full advantage of learning opportunities both in and beyond the classroom. How can we create conditions under which more students recognize and assume agency for their learning? In this session, we will discuss ongoing work at Beloit that aims to develop and assess student agency, and outline plans to enhance our efforts through online tools and further research.

Monday, September 23: From FYI to Capstone: Tools for Fostering Agency and Reflection, Weeks

As advisors, one of our jobs is to help students find and navigate pathways from FYI to the Capstone.  Such navigation requires that students take ownership of their educational experience and trajectories, and have opportunities to make sense of what they are learning and how.  In this session, we’ll look at student work we are already collecting (Initiatives essays, applications for various campus opportunities, and capstone writing) to ask what roles we can play as advisors to help students acquire agency.  We’ll discuss the role reflective writing can play, including in the major, to help students learn and grow, and how such writing can inform advising. We’ll also look at prompts helpful for advising and student reflection at different stages of students’ development.   Examples of student work will be available before the session to enable us to map out a student’s path through Beloit College.

Wednesday, October 2:  The academic life:  The role of students in our professional lives, Mathers

Who we are, and how we understand our roles as academics, educators, and scholars, has an impact on how how we teach, advise, and mentor students.   In this session, we will consider some questions to explore during the next three Monday sessions:  How does who we are affect (inform, blend with, exist in tension with) what Beloit College and Beloit College students want/expect/need from us?

Monday, October 7:  The academic relationship:  Local models of engaging with students, Weeks

Faculty encounter students in multiple contexts.  We teach students the content of our courses and the tools of our disciplines, but what else do we (faculty and staff) teach students?  Where and how does this happen?  In this session, we will explore institutional and local models of engagement, using some departmental case study examples to start the discussion.

Monday, October 21:  The academic trajectory: Applying the Liberal Arts in Practice model with an eye toward "launch," Weeks

We encourage Beloit College students to chart and pursue their (desirably) different pathways, but what are the essential elements of the academic trajectory we envision for them?  In this session, using post-graduate fellowships as a case study, we will apply the Liberal Arts in Practice Model to identify how individuals, departments, and programs and offices can provide students with appropriate scaffolding for launching their futures.

Monday, October 28:  Advising identities: Next steps, Mathers

This session focuses on the ways in which our experiences, perspectives, and identities intersect with our students’.  We’ll discuss information that may be valuable to be aware of, to gather, and to share as we teach and advise.  
In addition, we will identify potential next steps for research and faculty development.  
Wednesday, November 6:  Looking Back, Looking Forward:  Structuring a Life Narrative, Mathers

To prepare for life after Beloit, students need to create a narrative that draws on their experiences and guides their future personal and professional development.  In this session, we will discuss concepts such as self-authorship, return to the Liberal Arts in Practice Center developmental model, and look at existing structures that are helping students to look back on what they have learned, how and where, and to look forward to their lives after Beloit.

Monday, November 11:  Prompting Reflection, Weeks

Drawing from examples of reflective exercises currently employed at Beloit, we will discuss in this session when such exercises may be valuable, how to construct them, and what methods help us understand such work.