2015-16 Craft of Teaching Schedule

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Winter 2016   

Discovering Yourself as a Teacher [Arts of Teaching]

Tuesday, January 12, 4:00-6:00 pm, Swift 106

8e31697c8a9b053a58be253f4df11268.jpgTeaching confidently and creatively is not merely a matter of knowing the material and designing the course effectively. Your persona -- who you will be and how you will present yourself in the classroom -- is itself part of the pedagogical process. In this workshop, Seth Patterson (MFA, MDiv) and Prof. Sarah Hammerschlag (Assistant Professor of Religion & Literature) will lead a conversation and series of exercises to help participants refine and manifest the version of themselves that they want to be in the classroom. What do teaching authority and pedagogical virtuosity look like -- not in the abstract, but as our particular selves with our particular strengths, commitments, and educational objectives?

This workshop is capped in the number of participants that will engage in the exercises (and receive Arts of Teaching credit), though it remains open to any number of attendees / conversation partners. If you would like to be a participant, please email the Coordinators at craftofteaching@uchicago.edu no later than Sunday, January 10. All that is required of participants is to come to the workshop ready with approximately five minutes of material from your field that you know well and can discuss comfortably. Note that this exercise is not about the content--your content will not be critiqued, so don’t overthink it!

Identity and the Classroom (with the Chicago Center for Teaching)

Friday, January 29, 10:30-12:00 ; 1:00-2:30, Swift 106

Inextricable from the learning dynamics of a class are the interpersonal dynamics of a classroom: there is no such thing as a pedagogical setting exclusive of the people who take part in it, in all their complexity. In this two-part workshop with nationally-acclaimed teaching & learning expert Michele DiPietro (Kennessaw State University), we will explore the multifaceted question of identity as it pertains to classroom climate. Much of the public conversation around identity issues in recent years has focused on managing the sensitivities that arise when aspects of identity are exposed or threatened; this conversation will take a different approach, seeking to understand in a more nuanced way what identity is or might be, how it develops, how it is expressed or suppressed, as a normal dimension of human beings interacting with one another.

In Session 1: Identity Matters (10:30-12:00), Dr. DiPietro and Dr. William Rando (Chicago Center for Teaching) will facilitate a deeper understanding of identity dynamics as they affect teachers and students alike: filtering perception and expression, taking on greater or lesser significance in different groups, and intersecting with relations of power in the classroom. In this light, in Session 2: Faultlines & Strategies (1:00-2:30), will we turn to examining contemporary issues in classroom climate that can be productively related to this research on identity: the challenges that arise whether identity is articulated freely, suppressed as a compromising influence on learning, or even deliberately woven into classroom conversation. We will consider some of the evidence pertaining to stereotype threat, microaggression, and the trigger warnings debate, then discuss viable strategies for meeting these challenges carefully and creatively as educators. Coffee and other refreshments will be provided throughout. Participants are encouraged to attend both sessions but may certainly attend one or the other if this is what their schedule permits.

Michele DiPietro has served as Executive Director of the Center for Teaching and Learning at Kennesaw State University since 2010. Dr. DiPietro is a co-author of “How Learning Works: 7 Research-Based Principles for Smart Teaching.” His scholarly interests include learning sciences, academic integrity, diversity and inclusion, the Millennial generation, statistics education, the consultation process in faculty development, and teaching in times of tragedy.

Lunch will be served in between sessions. So that we can have an accurate count for our order, please register here for the event through Eventbrite by Sunday, January 24th.

Crafting the Conditions for Student Motivation [Arts of Teaching]

Wednesday, February 10, 9:00-10:30 am, Swift 200


The finest teachers can find their educational efforts thwarted by unmotivated students.  Unquestionably, many factors in students’ lives contribute to their motivation or lack thereof, but teachers may not know about them, or be able to address them.  Yet teachers are not powerless in the classroom when it comes to establishing an environment in which motivation—motivation to engage with content, with peers, and with the skills and goals of liberal education—is cultivated and continually reinforced.

In this workshop, led by Kathy Cochran, Associate Director of the University of Chicago Writing Program, we will examine the nature of specific problems around students’ motivation and consider available strategies to animate rather than enervate their commitment. Although such problems and solutions vary between disciplines and institutional contexts, we will look especially at the effects on pedagogy of language, in writing and speaking.  Questions we might consider include: how might instructors use language in writing and speaking to motivate?  How might students be motivated to write or speak, or through opportunities to write or speak?

In advance of this workshop, participants are invited to submit to Kathy (or to bring to the session) some selection of text that you have used or might use with students to instruct, guide, assign, explain, or prompt them.  (Include a sketch of the goals for the course, actual or hypothetical). For instance, you might submit a paper prompt, a syllabus (or part of it, such as a class requirement), a paper comment, feedback on a reading response, an in-class group assignment, etc.We will discuss these examples as well as your stories of particularly motivating or demotivating moments you have observed in class discussion. Please submit your example(s) by the end of the day Monday, February 8th if you can.
Never fear--coffee, tea, and even some light breakfast fare will be available at the workshop!

Syllabus Workshop: Teaching Islamic Studies Across the Institutional Field (with the Islamic Studies Workshop)

Friday, February 19, 12:00-2:00 pm, Swift 106

This session is a panel discussion on syllabus design of introductory-level courses in relation to student audience: how do pedagogical approaches to the same material shift in relation to institutional contexts?  Lauren Osborne, Mun'im Sirry, and Jawad Qureshi, all doctoral graduates or candidates of the Islamic Studies program at the Divinity School, will share representative syllabi and discuss teaching strategies based on their experiences with graduate and undergraduate students in research universities, religiously affiliated institutions, and liberal arts colleges.  

Mun'im Sirry is Assistant Professor of Theology at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana. He earned his PhD in Islamic studies from the University of Chicago Divinity School (2012). His writings include Scriptural Polemics: the Qur’ān and Other Religions (Oxford, 2014).

Lauren E. Osborne completed her PhD in the University of Chicago Divinity School in 2015 and is now Assistant Professor of Religion at Whitman College in Walla Walla, WA.

Jawad Anwar Qureshi is Assistant Professor of Arabic and Islamic Studies at the American Islamic College. He is a doctoral candidate in Islamic Studies at the University of Chicago’s Divinity School.

This session is co-sponsored with the Islamic Studies Workshop.

Annual Undergraduate Course Design Workshop [Arts of Teaching]

Friday, February 26, 11:30 am - 2:30 pm, Swift 200

keep-calm-it-s-on-the-syllabus.pngLed by Lucy Pick, Director of Undergraduate Studies and Senior Lecturer in the History of Christianity, this annual three-hour workshop centers on course and syllabus design.  Participants draft course titles and descriptions that are peer-reviewed during the workshop. Participation is limited and advanced registration is required.  In the first hour, participants will discuss the principles of good course design including how to title a course and write a course description, how to structure a course for college students, what kinds and how many readings and assignments to include, among other topics.  The remaining time will be used to discuss the course titles and descriptions submitted by participants, considering how to make them stronger, and how they might be fleshed out into a full syllabus.  Lunch will be provided.  In order to register, you must email Prof. Pick ( ) by Friday, February 19 at noon with your name, the title of a college-level course you might like to teach some day (or have taught) and a brief, one paragraph description of the course.  You can also include a short list of readings you might use in the course.  It should be no longer than a single page.

Biblical Studies Expertise and the Generalist Classroom (with the Early Christian Studies and Hebrew Bible Workshops)

Friday, March 4, 10:00-11:15 am, Swift 200

johnpap.jpgNegotiating the relationship between one’s own pockets of expertise and the broader topography of one’s teaching is a classic problem, and a potential opportunity, across academia. In this informal conversation, Winter Dean’s Seminar invitee Meira Kensky (PhD 2009; Associate Professor of Religion, Coe College) will lead a conversation on strategies for putting Biblical Studies expertise to productive and creative use in more generalist teaching contexts, such as introduction to religion or comparative religions courses.

Breakfast and coffee will be provided! This session is co-sponsored with the Early Christian Studies Workshop and the Hebrew Bible Workshop.

Winter Dean’s Seminar in the Craft of Teaching, with Meira Kensky

Friday, March 4, 12:00-2:00 pm, Swift Hall Common Room


"Building the Religion Major in the Era of the 'Death of the Humanities'"
This seminar will discuss the challenges of attracting students to the Religion Major in the contemporary climate. As students are inundated with talk of career preparation and are told over and over again that humanities majors only get jobs at coffee shops, departments worry about declining enrollments, consolidation, and justifying their programs to administrators, trustees, and even their faculty colleagues.  Prof. Meira Kensky (PhD 2009; Associate Professor of Religion, Coe College) will talk about some of the strategies her department has employed in building a rigorous and flexible curriculum, recruiting and developing talented students, and acting as ambassadors to the college community at large for both the study of Religion and the Humanities in general.
The quarterly Dean's Craft of Teaching Seminar is the flagship seminar of the Craft of Teaching program, centered on issues of course design and institutional context.  Complimentary lunch is provided at all Dean's Seminars for the first 25 RSVPs.  Please RSVP by Friday, February 26 to , indicating meat, vegetarian, or vegan preferences.
Meira Z. Kensky is currently the Joseph E. McCabe Associate Professor of Religion. Kensky received her B.A. from Sarah Lawrence College and her M.A. and Ph.D. in Biblical Studies (New Testament) from the University of Chicago. Her first book, Trying Man, Trying God: The Divine Courtroom in Early Jewish and Christian Literature, was published by Mohr Siebeck in 2010, and was the inspiration for a conference on "The Divine Courtroom in Comparative Perspective" at Cordozo School of Law in New York. Currently, she is working on her second book for Mohr Siebeck, an examination of the figure of Timothy in Early Christian literature. Recent publications include articles on Romans 9-11, Tertullian of Carthage's Apologeticum, and the figure of Timothy in the Pauline and post-Pauline epistles. Kensky has lectured widely around the Chicago and Cedar Rapids areas, and gave the 29th Annual Stone Lectureship in Judaism at Augustana College, IL, last May. She was the recipient of Coe College's C. J. Lynch Outstanding Teacher Award in 2013.

For the events of previous quarters, please see our archive.