A week before their classes began, the University’s newest faculty members received a new crash course in the unique aspects of teaching at Yale.
In a four-day orientation held in late August, the latest additions to the faculty were introduced to the University by interacting with top administrators and attending informational workshops. Mixing work with play, the orientation included family events such as pizza making and barbeques, as well as educational workshops about grant opportunities and tenure track at Yale. The Center for Teaching and Learning also hosted its inaugural Faculty Teaching Academy, a full-day seminar that highlighted the culture and expectation of teaching at Yale.
“The purpose [of the orientation] was to not only provide new faculty with important bits of information, but to allow the Yale leadership to personally welcome the faculty and their families to the Yale community,” Deputy Provost for Faculty Development and Diversity Richard Bribiescas said.
While the Provost’s Office informed more than 40 new faculty members about the University’s administrative structure and research opportunities, the Teaching Academy touched upon more pedagogical topics such as engaging students in lectures and handling the Yale-specific shopping period structure. The CTL also invited both senior faculty members and undergraduate students to share their experiences.
“We want to make teaching more public and we want faculty to care about teaching,” CTL Executive Director Jennifer Frederick said. “We also want to showcase the teaching resources available for faculty.”
During the workshop, new faculty members were divided into cohorts, which will meet later in the year to share their teaching experience and techniques. In addition to providing new faculty members with an overview of the teaching culture at Yale, the Teaching Academy will continue to offer workshops and discussion opportunities throughout the year, Frederick said.
The new faculty members, who come from a range of teaching backgrounds, said they were impressed by different aspects of the Teaching Academy.
Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry professor Nikhil Malvankar said the Teaching Academy helped him understand how Yale’s expectation of teaching is different from other institutions. Malvankar, who previously taught at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, said he is used to teaching in a lecture style, but is considering other approaches after the workshops.
“I need to challenge and engage Yale students,” he said. “In order to do that, you may need a flipped classroom approach with more discussions in class.”
Several other new faculty members said they were excited and intrigued about shopping period, something that many of them had never encountered before.
History professor Jennifer Allen said she is nervous about how many students will shop her classes and how many of them will choose to enroll, but appreciates the “intellectual opportunity” shopping provides.
Yale Divinity School professor Felicity Harley-McGowan said she was impressed with the positive teaching culture at Yale, reinforced throughout the orientation and Teaching Academy. She added that the CTL seems to be very encouraging of cross-departmental connections.
“Interdisciplinarity in teaching is not just rhetoric at Yale, it seems to be a reality,” she said. “That is very exciting.”
The Center for Teaching and Learning was established in 2014.