This semester, as part of the TLI, I am participating in the Bryn Mawr-Haverford Faculty Pedagogy Seminar, in which faculty meet weekly to discuss pedagogical challenges and continue their conversations on a blog. So far, I am enjoying it immensely--the opportunity to meet faculty from other school in other disciplines offers a vivid reminder that teaching challenges are both perennial and universal. There's no such thing as a perfect class, perfect students, or a perfect teacher--all the more reason, though, to think critically and reflectively on this challenging thing we do every day.
In addition, the Bryn Mawr TLI hooked me up with a Student Consultant, a student who has been trained to serve as a source of structured, supportive feedback on faculty classes. My Consultant, Nicole Gervasio (Bryn Mawr '10) will visit my class once a week and meet with me regularly to comment on the progress of the class. She came for the first time today (in the middle of a fire drill, no less), and I was happy to see how comfortable my students swiftly became with her presence. (Me, however--that was another matter.) The Student Consultants are paid for their work, take a weekly seminar in which they discuss their own responsibilities, and are mentored by the Bryn Mawr TLI Director (Alison Cook-Sather, Education). It is my hope that after piloting the process with Nicole this semester, next fall I can begin to train consultants for Ursinus. FYI: students sign a strict confidentiality agreement--they agree not to discuss what transpires in a class or their meetings with faculty members with students, or with anyone else. Their comments have absolutely no role in the tenure process. Such students could be excellent resources for us--dedicated to attending a class throughout the semester, they have more time than faculty are often able to provide, as well as a difference in perspective.
Do you have a student you think would make a good consultant? I'm hoping to establish a pipeline this semester. Students need not be academically exceptional, but they should be strong students with a capacity to think reflectively about their learning. Please contact me if you'd like more information, or if you'd like to pass a name along.