It's Grad Szn
CTLM Newsletter Issue #11
Endings and Beginnings
By Dr. Jodi Bornstein
It sometimes seems odd that the academic year is ending just as spring is blossoming – bringing the cyclical nature of teaching and learning into stark relief. Our charge at the CTLM is to meet these cycles of endings and beginnings with more questions than answers, more curiosity than certainty.
What worked really well this semester? What needs to be re-thought for next semester? What did I learn about myself, my students, my teaching? What did we learn together? Where did we push and extend ourselves in our learning? What approaches are ready to be put to rest, and what new ideas want to be born?
The end-of-semester push to completion can make it easy to bypass this important work of reflection, yet we know it is vital to honing our teaching craft, to imagining possibilities for change, and to creating vibrant and powerful teaching, learning, and mentoring experiences. In all of the busy-ness of our doing, our own reflection is vital-- to celebrate our accomplishments, reflect on our learning, and make plans for our next steps.
In this final CTLM Newsletter of the academic year, I wanted to take a moment to share the work of the Center this past semester, and acknowledge the dedicated and busy team of staff and Fellows who work together on various CTLM priorities and also work on specific Center projects and initiatives:
The Living Our Values Experience, (LOVE Pilot Program) completed its second year as a CTLM-led initiative that reflects Arcadia's commitment to weave ABRI throughout the University. Graduating senior Barbara St. Fleur has been part of the leadership team of this initiative from Day One -- and has helped to craft both the vision and message for this program, and this semester Deja Edwards joined LOVE as a CTLM Staff/Faculty Fellow and Project Lead. Deja’s experience as an Arcadia undergraduate and graduate student alumni, and adjunct faculty, lent great wisdom and expertise to the program and her work this semester led the program forward in powerful ways. Two new Student Fellows, Irene Hoang and Caitlin Bennett, who were co-facilitators for the program, contributed to growing our capacity to engage in cross-racial dialogue and advancing the program.
Barbara St. Fleur has also been a key member of our Communications team, together with Student Fellows Ryan Hiemenz and Tessa Wrice, and Faculty/Staff Fellow Daniel Pieczkolon bringing our newsletter and Instagram page (@auctlm) to life, and Faculty/Staff Fellow Lindsay McGann, who keeps the CTLM website up-to-date. This team, in collaboration with Staff/Faculty Fellow Brittani Smit, has worked to translate the efforts of the Center to the wider community, through various data collection strategies and storytelling narratives, and also keeps their finger on the pulse of both the Center and the University, to create a dialogue between the two.
Student Fellows Roxsana Cerne, Jessica Hornig, Dez Gaud, and Courtney Thoroughgood worked together with CTLM Staff/Faculty Fellows, Prash Naidu and Katherine Moore on our Mid-Semester Feedback Project. This unique program centers the learning experience of students and is helping to foster a culture of feedback and inclusive pedagogy that leads to innovative teaching and learning strategies across the University-- they also presented their learnings and insights at a Faculty Senate meeting this semester.
Another growing program this semester was facilitated by CTLM Student Fellows Leigh Ferrier, Julie Edmundson, and Olutobi Tella, who worked as Student Pedagogical Consultants in English courses this semester, co-designing courses and assignments and providing rich feedback to faculty working to advance the University’s ABRI goals and inclusive pedagogy. We are excited to be expanding both the mid-semester feedback and student pedagogical consultant programs to more courses moving into next year.
The CTLM also took a big step towards building more capacity to serve the community by adding a new staff position to our team. We are excited for Monica Day, who started with CTLM as a graduate fellow from its inception, and who has worked on numerous projects including the LOVE Pilot Program, to join us as Inclusive Excellence Projects Support Specialist. In this role, Monica will work with both the CTLM and the Gateway/ACT 101 Program to develop efficient and equitable administrative systems that support student retention; develop student-centered initiatives; make connections between retention data and teaching, learning, mentoring and other student support services offered through the two departments.
A guiding principle of the CTLM is for students, staff and faculty to work collaboratively and engage in deeply meaningful, purposeful, transformative and exemplary teaching, learning, and mentoring. As we close out this spring and head into the summer, we look forward to continuing to build a strong structure, to plan for innovative programs, and to expand our capacity to offer more ways to connect and work together in advancing our ideas into action.
A Night with Cremona Morrey
By Tessa Wrice
On March 24th, the Office of Access, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (OAEDI), the Center for Teaching, Learning, and Mentoring, and the Office of Marketing and Communications held an event honoring the life and legacy of Cremona and explored the ways in which the university was responsible for acknowledging the history of the land that Arcadia is built on.
The event’s discussion panel featured WHYY’s documentary producer Karen Smyles, Montier and Morrey family historian Joyce Mosley, and a presentation by the University’s L.O.V.E. Pilot ARTcadia working group. This is not the first time Arcadia has been called upon to make greater efforts towards land acknowledgement. Earlier this year, the Faculty Senate approved a land acknowledgement statement recognizing the Lenape Peoples as the original caretakers of their land and their perseverance through the devastating impacts of colonialism.
The Rose and Mirror Rooms were split into two areas, one for a screening of the documentary dedicated to the Montiers family and discussion panel and another for a gallery display featuring student-made artwork and music in celebration of women’s history month. It was amazing to hear the conversations that are possible when members of both the Arcadia and Cheltenham community work together to critically analyze the ways in which we can bring light to the many silenced stories of our local history and the city as a whole.
I didn’t learn about who Cremona Morrey was until senior year here at Arcadia. Last semester I participated in the L.O.V.E Pilot, a program dedicated to antiracism work and study on campus. Students, staff, and faculty would meet on a weekly basis and split up into working groups to take the first step towards conceptualizing the ways that antiracism work can be practiced all throughout campus. The groups included Athletics, Education, Criminal Justice, and Workplace Discrimination which all had an emphasis on identifying what true intersectionality looks like on campus. ARTcadia, the group dedicated to the arts, focused their attention on Cremona Morrey and finding ways to honor her through art installations on campus.
One of the speakers on the panel was a member from the ARTcadia working group, Olivia Lorde, who was able to sit down with members of Cremona’s family and those who strive to help us to remember her most to discuss her personal experience uncovering the incredible history of the land that we have the privilege of residing on and how powerful it felt to acknowledge that part of the past.
If you are like me and hadn’t heard of Cremona Morrey, I encourage you to do some digging of your own. You don’t have to go far to discover some of the historic sites that stand as proof of not only her legacy, but her five children's lives as well. Cremona Jr. built a home right here in Glenside that still stands today. Cremona Jr. had a son, Hiram, who posed for a famous portrait which caught the attention of historians for its depiction of freed, middle class African Americans, something that was not shown very often at the time.
The Lowdown on SLOs
By Dan Schall
Sometimes when I think about student learning assessment—specifically the language of assessment: outcomes, objectives—I feel overwhelmed and repelled. This is especially true when we consider the often-strong focus in assessment on what students produce, rather than how they’re changed as learners.
But the longer I’ve served as Coordinator of Student Learning Assessment at Arcadia, the more I’ve come to believe not only that there are good reasons why we (and institutions) use this language, but also that intentionally-designing our learning outcomes can ultimately help us to become better teachers.
I’ve also realized something else: we’re likely already “doing assessment” in our classes, but we often need help expressing the implications of that assessment, both to our colleagues and to ourselves. Student learning outcomes/objectives (SLOs) are a tool for bridging these gaps when we genuinely use them to think about what’s happening in our courses.
Here are four useful tips for thinking about SLOs and their language that can make them feel productive in both your classroom and your program:
Tip #1: The language of SLOs is designed with multiple audiences and contexts in mind. Try to think first of SLOs as a way to communicate some of the crucial expectations to multiple stakeholders for whom the course might be important, both vertically in the institution’s hierarchy and also across departments horizontally. If you teach within a larger academic department, for example, your colleagues within that department may be able to more readily identify ways in which your section of a course aligns with (or differs from) theirs. Yet these same course SLOs also communicate quickly and efficiently some of these same competencies to stakeholders who need information about courses, but may have less specific context than your department colleagues, such as the Faculty Senate Academics Committee or the dean of your college. If well-constructed, these same SLOs often sometimes may also communicate to more abstract audiences, such as parents or accrediting bodies.
Lastly, but most importantly, SLOs communicate to students, clearly indicating what specific competencies they’ll need to demonstrate in the course. SLOs create transparency and clarity for students in the course, if constructed with these goals in mind. SLOs don’t encourage students to ignore one assignment for another based on a list of competencies or actions; instead by clearly stating how students are likely to demonstrate their learning, SLOs often show students how multiple assignments are connected, suggesting to them how one assignment or assessment may build upon a previous one, especially if the course is connected to more advanced courses in a curriculum.
Tip #2: SLOs are not designed to–nor are they capable of–capturing all the learning that occurs in a course or program. One of the biggest objections I often hear about SLOs from faculty (and some students) is that they’re reductive. How, I’m often asked, is an instructor supposed to fit all of the learning that students do into this list of statements at the top of a syllabus?
In response to this very understandable concern, I often ask questions of my own: do grades do this? Consider that I’ve had students in my courses over the years who have not performed well in terms of grades, but who have still learned a lot. To frame the issue more broadly, is there really any mechanism that can capture the entirety of what a student learns in a course?
In truth, it can help to think about SLOs not being designed to capture everything about what a student learns in a course, but about what you’re particularly interested in them demonstrating. But to make sure the results of such assessment are clear to both students and other stakeholders (see Tip #1), it helps to structure them intentionally so that they generate strong data.
SLOs that generate strong data in courses are, first and foremost, measurable. That is, they need to be framed in a way that an assessment (often an assignment in the class) will actually produce results that show how students are doing at demonstrating it.
For example, an “in-progress” SLO might be that students will “learn about the chemical bonds and their roles in biological systems.” But how are they assessed on that learning? How do we measure how well they’ve learned this?
It’s likely that students are assessed in the course on this in more than one way. If one method is a test, look at the questions that the test itself asks students. There’s a good chance the questions themselves indicate what action students need to take, such as “describe the three basic types of chemical bonds and their role in biological systems.”
We can clearly see a difference here: describing the chemical bonds requires that they have already learned them, but also asks them to demonstrate that learning in a way that both the instructor and many other stakeholders can see. It’s worth noting that this “seeing” of student learning is another useful barometer for constructing good SLOs: SLOs also tend to be observable, whether through a product that students submit, or their actual participation and action. One could assess a students’ ability to “describe the three basic types of chemical bonds” in a test, or you could assess this through direct observation of students’ informal responses in class discussion. The advantage in using “describe” above is that it allows you, as the instructor, to more intentionally determine where and how you’re actually assessing students’ learning.
Finally, SLOs need to be feasible for you, as the instructor. There’s no point in planning an assessment of too much in one course if you won’t be able to consistently and reliably collect the information you hope to collect. All assessment starts as an imperfect process; all assessment begins with incomplete data. To hold off on the process and wait for the perfect assessment tools and conditions is to hold off forever. But to overcorrect, to attempt to assess everything without any baseline information, will overwhelm even the most seasoned instructors.
Good SLOs help to make the process feasible, because they help to limit for instructors when and how they need to collect information to assess their students. If in my poetry writing course, for example, students must “analyze the selection process of poetry journals and magazines,” I can use this SLO to focus my attention specifically in assessing students in particular assignments: we may talk about poetry journals in workshops and class discussion, but I’m only assessing students on this SLO based on a specific presentation about literary journals that they give. If I try to do too much, I might not be able to consistently collect and organize the information in a way that’s going to be reliable enough for me to use it, either for improving my own course or for discussing how my course connects to the broader creative writing curriculum.
Which leads me to Tip #3: The best SLOs connect explicitly and intentionally to the assessments in courses and/or programs. If you design SLOs to collect information relevant to their overall pathways through programs, rather than trying to encapsulate everything about the course, it becomes easier to see how they serve a different function from grades: the point of SLOs is to give you specific information about students in the course at a specific time; if you make adjustments to a program or curriculum based upon what you find, the same assessment might yield a completely different result in the future.
Tip #4: SLOs are a “hypothesis” about the learning that will occur. And, importantly, a hypothesis that safely allows us to be wrong. This is, perhaps, the most important point about SLOs: they aren’t a reflection on our teaching, nor are they intended to be a barometer for our own personal effectiveness. If you design SLOs specifically and intentionally for your program or course, you will be the one to determine and interpret the results.
Though assessment by default isn’t always “research” it can be helpful to think about SLOs as a kind of hypothesis that one would think of in any empirical process: my hypothesis might be that “students will analyze three important literary concepts in my course,” but what if they only successfully analyze two?
Rather than looking at this as a “failure” on my part, I can use the information I gathered from the assessment to determine why students had trouble with that third concept, reframe my next “hypothesis” (i.e., revise my SLOs) and try again next semester.
What makes the above process different from what we already often do as teachers, however, is that, with SLOs, we’re framing this in ways that can be understood and communicated to various audiences (see #1). Assessment results, for example, can highlight specific places where students in a program are performing well, but can also uncover specific reasons why students might be struggling, some of which may demonstrate compelling calls for action, either internally (such as department faculty being agents for changes within a curriculum based upon results), or eternally (such as results that may offer strong narratives for requesting specific resources).
Creating SLOs can be difficult, especially because student learning itself is a multifaceted and often unobservable process. But SLOs don’t have to be simply another administrative hoop to jump through; building good SLOs can help you to be more intentional with what your course covers, to determine quickly and clearly what you can expect students to do in the course, to design assignments and connect them—and the course—to the broader curriculum, and to collect reliable information quickly and consistently for your own use.
Be sure to check out the resources below on SLOs and creating clear and effective assessments:
“Using Bloom’s Taxonomy to Write Effective Learning Objectives” (University of Arkansas)
Senior Year: The Finish Line
By Barbara St. Fleur
I am in recovery from my mild case of senioritis. I do have some days when I feel like laying in bed. For the most part, my symptoms have disappeared. I got myself out of the funk and finished all my final papers. I am just waiting for my chance to walk at graduation and showcase what I have been working toward these last four years.
Earlier in the semester, I did not think I wanted to go to graduation because I have spent the majority of my time online or in another country; I realized that I would regret not seeing the campus one last time.
It is not only about taking pictures and showing people that I graduated; it is more about feeling nostalgic for the last four years. I have made connections with a lot of people on campus that I do not believe I would have made had I been in person. I've had the opportunity of being a Student Fellow at The Center for Teaching, Learning, and Mentorship for two years. I was given the opportunity to provide my input on different projects and meet amazing fellows that I can truly say made my last years online worth it.
Reflecting on my time at Arcadia has switched my thinking about graduation. I first thought of graduation as an unnecessary event to brag about getting your bachelor's degree. There is nothing wrong with bragging about this stupendous milestone, but my thinking was that I did not need to come back to Arcadia to brag. Now, I see going to graduation as the last step in being a functional adult. It’s the milestone before I enter the workforce. Also, what's bragging about an achievement without pictures?
After submitting my final paper, I realized that I had a lot of free time. I have hobbies and creative projects, but for some reason, I could only think about the big chunk of space and time that school took up. I started thinking about what I will do with myself. I like making creative videos and reading books, but I have not done either of those in a while. I remember how to make videos and read, but it feels strange that I don’t have a full list of things that I have to do for next semester. I don’t have the next semester. I’m going out into the adult world. I know that a job will take up some of the time that school used to occupy, but what do I do now. My four-year plan has been achieved.
While I am in London I have taken some time to travel and see some wonderful sights, but I still feel anxious waiting for the next stage of my life. I always worried about grades, tests, and the next step of my plan. I realize now that I need a new plan; I need new things to stress about. While coming up with this new plan, I am also looking forwards to adding some breaks and free time for hobbies and recreational activities. Since I submitted all my papers this semester, I have read the book 1984, taken a trip to Greece, and planned two other trips. I am slowly adjusting to this stage in my life.
Circles of Practice
By Dr. Jodi Bornstein, Dr. Tatjana Miletic, Dr. Katherine Moore, and Dr. Graciela Slesaransky-Poe
I still have the index card my cooperating teacher handed me after my first “formal” student teaching observation. Written on it were all the things I had done wrong-- in list form. He handed it to me at the end of the class and said we could talk about it later. That later didn’t happen that day or any day soon after. I remember leaving school really not knowing what to do next. I had a small group of student teacher friends but I didn’t really feel like I could talk with them about this due to my own feelings of inadequacy and embarrassment. But as the year went along, we met informally as a group to catch up once per week, and as I heard my friends talk about their teaching days over those next weeks, I realized that this could be a space for me to share mine.
This was my entry into the world of being part of a professional learning community. Teaching is awesome and difficult work and pushes us to be bold and vulnerable. Sharing my story(ies) with my colleagues, who listened with empathy and understanding, and over time became a trusted group with whom I could hear and share honest feedback and engage in more difficult and challenging conversations, was key to my growth as a teacher then-- and continues to be key to my growth and learning now.
When CTLM launched, right as the pandemic started, we prioritized professional learning communities and communities of practice as a way forward (See CTLM Newsletter #2: A Poet, A Physicist, and An Accountant Walk Into a Zoom Room). Over 60 colleagues came together over zoom to work together through “problems and possibilities” of practice-- and some of those groups still continue to meet and connect. This year, the CTLM continued this work and supported Teaching and Learning Circles connected to specific departmental and University priorities—below are stories from three:
Dr. Tatjana Miletic: STEM Teaching and Learning Circle (STEM TLC)
This semester, I have been the co-facilitator of a STEM TLC. The theme of our sessions is
Humanizing STEM (H-STEM) which embeds Identity in STEM and builds self-efficacy and ownership of both the teacher and student. Humanizing (my own) STEM is maybe the most important goal I set for myself recently. We (Boyer faculty) are deeply invested in science, technology, engineering and mathematics and also interested in the scientist behind the science, the mathematician behind the theorems, and the engineer behind the innovation. In our STEM TLC this semester, we explored how personal identities intersect with content and career journeys and how this intersection influences a sense of belonging. As I see it, the trouble is, this intersection is busy, unregulated, hard to navigate and often seen as an obstacle rather than an integral part of one's journey. Our STEM TLC discussions, for me, are opportunities to self reflect and examine my own journey and intersections mentioned above that, I have to admit, I assumed I should neglect or, at best, suppress. After conversations with my colleagues, I am very motivated to incorporate these ideas into my classroom. I am excited to have the opportunity to improve every semester. I see that the Teaching and Learning Circle is a circle for a reason, as a circle has no end, there are endless possibilities to get support from this community.
Dr. Katherine Moore: ABRI Teaching and Learning Circle: (ABRI TLC)
As a CTLM fellow and TLC enthusiast, I have been fortunate enough not only to participate in both the STEM and Inclusive Excellence TLCs this year, but also co-facilitate with Dr. Michelle Reale a TLC for members of the ABRI curriculum infusion pilot group. This group comprises a small number of faculty across different schools and departments at Arcadia who are working on infusing anti-racist pedagogy and content into their courses. As a guide, faculty are using an ABRI curriculum framework developed by Dr. Christopher Varlack with the assistance of members of the ABRI curricular infusion team, of which I’m a member as a CTLM representative. Michelle brings to the table extensive expertise in the practice of “reflection,” which is a key component of our TLC. Faculty have been reflecting on their practice and experiences this semester on a regular basis, and sharing these reflections with the group. The TLC is a great source of inspiration. Faculty have shared their innovative new ABRI practices, both in terms of pedagogy and content. Faculty have also shared pedagogical challenges, and collectively we’ve discussed solutions. We also heard from faculty who shared Dr. Varlack’s ABRI framework with their students to brainstorm ways to connect it with their course concepts. It is exciting to hear about and share in the ways that faculty are connecting to ABRI principles across the curriculum. The ABRI curricular infusion team is planning on continuing a similar TLC next year.
Dr. Graciela Slesaransky-Poe: Inclusive Excellence Teaching and Learning Circle (IE TLC)
In August 2021, Dr. Ellen Skilton and I co-facilitated the “Re-Designing Your Syllabus for Inclusive Excellence Summer Institute”. This past year, the need emerged to continue to meet as a group to support each other with the implementation and assessment of the proposed changes. We had formed a Community of Practice, where trust and honest conversations were central to advancing and supporting the implementation and assessment of the planned changes to our syllabi. In Fall 2022, we reconvened and formed the Inclusive Excellence Teaching and Learning Community (IE TLC). After a series of conversations and meetings on how the implementation opportunities and challenges were taking place, we heard three themes that could help us organize the reporting and continued building of the work: student and faculty engagement, equity, and well-being.
Using those themes, IE TLC members volunteered to present their work in progress to the TLC, sharing what the focus of their “redesign for inclusive excellence” was, how the implementation has been going, what they were learning, and the questions that had come up for them in the process. These presentations and conversations have been deeply informative and inspirational! We learned about pedagogical practices, content creating, peer support, among other approaches. The value of coming together, learning with and from each other, of having a space for ongoing risk-taking, self-assessment, with a trusting group of peers/colleagues cannot be underestimated. We deepened and improved our own and each other’s teaching approaches, philosophies, and practices. And this is the circle that keeps on giving. I cannot wait to try some of the approaches I learned from my colleagues in one of my courses in the Fall, and share with them what I learned, struggled with, and was able to accomplish.
Here at the CTLM, we see this type of collaborative learning model as a foundational piece of our work within the University. We are excited to announce that next year, we will be strengthening and deepening our support of professional learning communities by offering training, workshops, and mini-grants to support them. Stay tuned for a more formal announcement soon!
A Bridge to Memory
By Julianna Reidell
The Tower Bridge is the wallpaper background on my laptop; it’s become a token of sorts. The return from Spring Break — filled with the stress of COVID testing and the weight of a workload I didn’t have time to address earlier — hit me especially hard. The problem with Preview, I realized, was this: I assumed that just because I’d come back to Glenside with a new set of experiences, the world would change to match. How could the Arcadia day-to-day stay exactly the same when I’d just had a whirlwind week in actual London?
There are aspects of Preview that I will never remember fondly — from the feeling of isolation that settled as I became the only person to continually wear a mask, to the spike of anxiety every time one of my classmates coughed on the bus ride back from JFK Airport, leaving me to wonder how many of my remaining pounds I would bet that at least one of us had COVID. But I would never say that the trip wasn’t worth the trouble.
During my time in London, I crossed the Millenium Bridge in a light drizzle, then stood in the middle of the pedestrian walkway to watch the infamous, lovely Thames run under my feet. I took in the architecture — steely gray skyscrapers in the distance along each side of the river and, to my right, the only building in the city made entirely of wood: the reconstruction of Shakespeare’s Globe. The next day, I battled Google Maps to find my way to Covent Garden, where I felt incredibly alive surrounded by flower displays and rows upon rows of antique telephones, miniature figures, and art made from cigarette cards to explore — all accompanied by the notes of a tenor’s live opera performance spilling into the sky. Hyde Park, right across from the hotel in all its spring splendor, bustled with dogs, parakeets, and audacious pigeons. I laughed at the sight of ducks waddling through a downpour in front of the British Museum. The Museum of London’s mascot was a stuffed rat dubbed “Sid Scurry” and worked into assorted displays. Tempted by the offer of a student discount, I spent £17 on a ticket to the tiny London Transport Museum, which turned out to be the go-to place for 3-to-5-year-old boys and their frazzled caretakers. Once, the Tube car doors closed directly on my knee. Oh, but what a time!
I have no direct English heritage, and I’m working to globalize my reading and historical knowledge, to place less emphasis on the white West. But English history and English literature first sparked a passionate fire in my heart, and I marveled over the Globe and the Tower of London and Kensington Palace, thinking, Shakespeare walked here. Kings and queens have walked here. When I was eight, laughing at Terry Deary’s morbidly funny Horrible History: The Terrible Tudors, I couldn’t have imagined that in a little over a decade I would gaze solemnly at the spot where Anne Boleyn’s body was separated from her head, regret and rage swirling together inside me as I mourned this woman, victim to the will of a tyrant, her husband and King Henry VIII. But England has not been an exclusively white country for a very long time, and I also appreciated the opportunities provided to explore its diversity. Brixton’s Windrush Square celebrated the courage of the first generation of post-war immigrants from Britain's colonies; the nearby market’s wares ranged from traditional European fare to Afro-Caribbean and Afro-Latine products, fabrics, and designs. More sobering were many of the artifacts displayed at the British Museum. The bloody history behind the Benin Bronzes complicated their presence, and gazing up at the Hoa Hakananai’a, I was confronted with the awful concept of having to travel thousands of miles simply to worship, to connect to one’s rightful spiritual and cultural heritage. This is not something I have experienced; the same cannot be said for the Rapa Nui of Easter Island. I was especially struck by the fact that the plaques explaining the statue’s presence at the British Museum used a “he” pronoun, so much more personal and tender than an objectifying “it.” Equally touching: the tendency I discovered at Hampstead’s Highgate Cemetery, for the term “fell asleep” to be used on gravestones instead of the harsher “died.” With the sun beaming down and daffodils growing along the grassy paths and amidst the century-old tombs, I was very much struck by the feeling that this was indeed a place of peace, of rest.
I ate croissants and sushi and sausage rolls and scones in London. I hiked up Parliament Hill on Hampstead Heath to see the city skyline. When, during the musical Six, Katherine Parr sang “Remember that I was a writer,” I felt myself flooded with exhilaration and pride. While taking over the Arcadia Instagram for a day, I posted a view from the Thames with the simple caption “this beautiful city!”
That beautiful city, and the memories I made in it, are what I’ve tried to capture with my Tower Bridge background. To my disappointment, my post-London world did not change to match the person I felt sure I’d become. So it fell to me to remember the difference. I was no longer someone who needed to look up pictures of London sites and views; I had seen them for myself. I took that picture of Tower Bridge. London, for so long a dream, is now a jewel of a memory — not flawless, but rich and bright. I was there, I tell myself; I was there, the Tower Bridge reminds me: I was there.
Arcadia's Equestrian Team
By Tessa Wrice
Sydney is one of nine showing members on the team this semester whose hard work has gotten her incredibly far over the course of the year, both at shows and in the development of her riding as a whole. The amount of time, money, and physical work that goes into having a successful show season is something that goes largely unnoticed by the general Arcadia community, despite gaining more and more recognition from the local equestrian community.The Western team managed to collect a competitive amount of points this season, placing 5th, an impressive placing considering we are the smallest team who competes in our region. Individual riders collect points based on their placings over the course of the season that go towards their team points. We often struggle to be as competitive as a high-point team because the bigger teams fill more classes and, therefore, collect more points but as our riders place better and better every year, it doesn’t seem nearly as impossible as it once did.
Our success as a team is solely because of the work that has been put into developing a cohesive team that rides together, wins together, loses together, and celebrates together. In some ways, riding is more of an individual sport than a team sport and every rider finds themself congratulating a teammate on being champion of their class while grappling with losing theirs. There are times you are in a class with your teammates riding against each other, some of us ride against each other at every show. It can be hard to find the balance between wanting what's best for your team and wanting what's best for yourself. However, once you find that balance, it makes the team even stronger and more connected and that’s what our team has done in the last few years. We have gained the mindset of when one of us wins, all of us win.
When we talk about our team, it’s hard not to bring up the growth of our team in just the past few years, growing even faster over the course of the pandemic. A few years ago we were struggling to even remain a club because we had so few members and convincing incoming freshmen that spending a few hundred dollars would be worth it in six months was close to impossible. Our problem has never been that we didn’t have new members joining, it was keeping the new members that was difficult for us. A lot of people join the team expecting it to be cheap, easy, and little to no physical effort and they quickly find it to be the opposite. It's long hours on your feet, lifting 45lb tack over your head, putting all of your strength into controlling a half-ton animal for an hour, and spending more money in a day than you thought you ever could. It’s a physically demanding and expensive sport that you either can’t imagine life without or think we’re all totally nuts. Commitment is a requirement when it comes to riding, especially when showing against riders who are at the barn everyday. The riders on our team have to work that much harder to be competitive with these teams and that’s not something everyone is ready for.
Every year we gain a few dedicated riders who want to put in the effort required to be on this team and those are the girls that are helping our team become a name that people not only recognize but respect. Our walk/trot and walk/jog riders deserve special recognition as they are not only competitive against schools with bigger riding programs, but consistently placing top 3 at every show. We’re transitioning from being the underdog to being a team that other teams have to watch out for and we want a similar sort of transition within the university as well.
Coordinating lessons around everyone’s schedules and organizing weekend long horse shows is no easy task but it is done by our own members and while they have always done an excellent job at making sure that everything is in order, it leads us to wonder what kind of success we could have if we were better supported and acknowledged by Arcadia. While we are technically a club, it is hard for us to function as one because in every other way we aren’t. At our busiest, we are showing every weekend, sometimes traveling several hours, staying in hotels, and riding in back to back shows from 6:30am on Saturday to Sunday evening. As you can probably imagine, it takes an immense amount of time and effort between coordinating with SGO, accounts payable, liaisons, and other teams who need a head count and show fees every weekend. Our board members do all of this and more every week while simultaneously juggling their classes, riding, and work schedules. There is nothing easy about the work that we do to keep this team running.
We don’t expect to become an official NCAA sport like the other Arcadia athletic teams, and for such a small team, it would be incredibly hard for us. What we want is for the university to give us the administrative support that would allow our team to compete at its full potential. We recognize that we operate a little differently than most sports here on campus and at times require a level of comprehension of our sport that many faculty members simply don’t have. After all, it takes riders many years in the sport and industry to really understand all of the aspects of equestrian sports, so expecting our club advisors to understand everything that we do is not always possible. To us, this is even more of a reason that we need the university to really listen to us when we make efforts to advocate for ourselves as what we want most is for our faculty and peers to recognize how unique our sport is and how essential the longevity of our team is to the current and future Arcadia community.
Two Years in the Making
By Barbara St. Fleur
This year will make it two years of the LOVE Program. The LOVE Program started off with Affinity groups and has transformed into Working Groups that serve to identify and brainstorm ways to highlight racial issues in our Arcadia community and in different institutions. The first Working Groups started in Spring 2021 and have changed throughout the two years. The Working Groups started as Structural Inequality in Health Care, Decolonizing Cultural Stereotypes & Practice, Workplace Discrimination, Rethinking History & Place, and Criminal Injustice & Election Dysfunction. This semester, the LOVE program focused on two Working Groups: Health Equity and ARTcadia. Both Working Groups have been around since the beginning and have been modified to narrow issues within their field's general topic.
Health Equity, this semester wanted to focus on its social media platform and inform the Arcadia community about health disparities in education and how they have affected different individuals trying to attain a degree in the health field. ARTcadia has always had a focus on the history of Arcadia and how to become more transparent with our past. This semester this Working group has been collaborating with Arcadia’s tour ambassadors to include information about Arcadia’s past in our tours to prospective students.
Currently, the LOVE Working Groups are focused on presenting some of the information that they have been discussing throughout this year, and the program leaders are focused on next year and what the LOVE program will be doing next.
Be on the lookout for…
Next semester, the LOVE program plans on bringing back course affiliations, the GCR courses, and continued discussions and work in our Working Groups.
Friday, May 6 @ Noon
LOVE LEARNINGS: HOW TO TAKE COLLABORATIVE ANTI-RACIST ACTION
In its fourth semester, The Living Our Values Experience (LOVE) Pilot Program explored collaborative and community-based learning models for taking anti-racist action together. In this webinar, representatives of the students, staff and faculty that worked together this semester will share the actions they took, the discussions they had, and what it taught them about how to take anti-racist action that results in individual and institutional change.
Join us to find out more about:
How our research is changing the way that Arcadia sees and discusses both its history and present;
Insights about how health inequity affects us all, as individuals and as a community, and how we might address some of the root causes as a University;
Ways to connect with the LOVE program in the 2022-23 academic year: as a participant, as an instructor and as an Arcadia community member.
There will be time for Q&A at the end of the panel discussion. Please join us!
Click here to join this webinar.
Mid-Semester Feedback Program: Focusing on the Future
By Jess Hornig and Roksana Cerne
We both came in this semester as brand new fellows. We didn’t know what to expect, we were just excited about being involved with the CTLM’s values and initiatives. We ended up finding a home within Dr. Katherine Moore's Mid-Semester Feedback team, which unbeknownst to us would end up being an incredibly enriching and exciting experience. The program gave us the opportunity to facilitate discussion between faculty and their students; each feedback session we would have a pre-meeting with the professor to get an idea of what kind of feedback they’d like from the students. Then we would get a chance, during class time, to get feedback from the students without the faculty present. Finally, we would have a post-meeting with the professor to relay the students’ sentiments. This process was incredibly rewarding not only because we got to give our peers a voice in their classes, but also because we got to work on an incredible team led by Dr. Moore, and alongside Dr. Prash Naidu, Dez Gaud, and Courtney Thoroughgood, who are all incredibly lovely collaborators and people.
My favorite part of this experience was being able to connect with students. There is not often an opportunity to provide feedback in my classes without fear of the professor judging me or unintentionally holding a grudge that will affect my grade. I feel that having a peer as the person facilitating the feedback allowed the students to be more at ease and be able to share more freely. I think the shared understanding and knowledge of what goes on in classes is a key part of this process. Sure, plenty of professors have great relationships with their students. But many can’t truly empathize with the student experience and what it is like learning these days, especially in a post (?) COVID world.
When I spoke at a faculty senate meeting in March, there was a lot of enthusiasm and passion about the MSF initiative—even from those who had never heard of it before. I answered question after question regarding how we can use the feedback we get from students to better the university as a whole, suggesting that the faculty are open and wanting student voices to be heard. These conversations are incredibly important, and are the first step to creating a unique professor-student relationship that is rooted in empathy.
Though I know that the MSF program is explicitly designed for the betterment of the professors and students, I somehow feel that I have benefited just as much as them. On the surface, it may seem that there are only short term benefits just for the students; however, I sincerely believe there are long term benefits for all involved. Starting with the professors, they are able to receive feedback about their course in a new way that’s more intimate than the standard end-of-semester feedback form (which usually has a low response rate). Not only are they able to implement the suggestions for their current class, it can also be implemented in the future. With this, students are able to see the tangible benefits of advocating for themselves. As the professors make changes based on their suggestions, the students often realize that as long as they are willing to speak up the faculty are willing to make changes, or at the very least have discussions about why certain practices are the way they are. From leading this progress I was able to learn myriad professional skills ranging from public speaking to phrasing criticism, which is much harder than you would think. However, the one ability that was truly tested and strengthened for each one of the facilitators was establishing empathetic relationships.
We have both alluded to how the entire MSF program is centered around communication and having multiple discussions. It's from these discussions that empathy is formed, which is without a doubt the most valuable skill all parties build on during the experience. As the faculty and students begin to appreciate each other's sentiments, an understanding is founded, allowing for a slew of improvements in the classroom dynamic. As mentioned earlier, the faculty and students are not the only ones who are privy to this growth. We, as the facilitators, are consistently forced to consider both sides of the discussion. We explain to the students the possible rationales for the professor’s decisions, this is us adopting the faculty’s perspective; then, we explain to the professor why the students feel the way they do, this is us adopting the student's perspective. As we switch back and forth between perspectives, our ability to empathize is strained in a way that normal conversation does not demand, allowing us to grow in a way we would not have been able to without being in this program. It was an incredibly enriching experience, and one that we hope will continue to grow even in the years after we leave Arcadia.
By Daniel Pieczkolon
The Center for Teaching, Learning, & Mentoring is still less than two years old. Now those are COVID years, which are closer to dog years than our traditional human ones, but still, we are a young Center still very much trying to define our identity. At the close of this semester, four of our Student Fellows will graduate. Each of them has left an indelible mark on the Center & the Arcadia community at large. This is my attempt to celebrate & contextualize their work.
Leigh Ferrier joined the staff of our undergraduate literary magazine in the Spring of 2021. In that first Zoom meeting her background was the Simpsons’ living room. Leigh is cool as hell. Whether we are in lit mag meetings or CTLM meetings, I’ve always admired Leigh’s ability to be deeply present without dominating the space. On so many occasions, I’ve watched her sit quietly, taking in the ideas & observations of her colleagues, and then offer up one concise but brilliant statement that synthesizes all that’s been said and moves the discussion forward in new & useful ways. I’m incredibly grateful for all of the times that Leigh’s concise brilliance has embarrassed my discursive rambling and course-corrected a meeting. This past year, Leigh served as a Pedagogical Consultant for Modern British Literature (as well as two other courses with Dr. Matthew Heitzman and Dr. Michelle Reale). Dr. Heitzman was quick to comment upon her “selflessness” and her courage, noting that “she isn’t afraid to talk about the challenges she’s faced as a student as she’s moved through her degree, which has helped to normalize those challenges, which are a natural part of the learning process, for the students in my classes.” Part of being cool as hell is impeccable taste—like incorporating The Simpsons into your Zoom life or being able to pull off Converse High Tops—but an even bigger part of it is recognizing that your vulnerability inspires & benefits those that you are tasked with helping. Leigh is cool as hell.
I’ve never met Tobi Tella—aside from being in the same overcrowded Zoom rooms together—but I’ve seen his name in all of the spaces on campus that inspire me the most. While at Arcadia, he served as a Social Action & Justice Education (SAJE) Peer Mentor and co-chaired that organization’s “Power Conversation” series—a 2-hour monthly discussion about critical societal issues and their impacts on education and BIPOC & LGTBQI+ students. His poetry has been published in our undergraduate literary magazine. And, at this year’s Honors Convocation, he was awarded the Horace C. Woodland prize, which goes to a “prospective teacher who has been the most active in promoting better understanding among fellow students during their years at Arcadia University.” Like Leigh, Tobi has served as a Pedagogical Consultant for Dr. Matthew Heitzman’s Modern British Literature course. I reached out to some of the Fellows who worked more closely with Tobi, and the plaudits were overwhelming. “Gentle” and “grounded” and “observant” and “brilliant” were all words Tobi’s CTLM colleagues used to describe him. When I asked Dr. Heitzman to describe working with Tobi, he shared an anecdote about the lesson planning meetings for Modern British Literature (which also included Leigh Ferrier, Julie Edmundson, & Dr. Michelle Reale): “Tobi’s already a gifted teacher….We'll all toss out ideas for our next lesson plan, and it is invariably Tobi who will figure out the perfect intellectual frame or framing question to contain and structure our madcap ambitions for the lesson.” Trying to synthesize all of the compliments about him that Tobi’s peers have shared with me has been a difficult task. It seems like maybe I should have asked him to write this piece.
Courtney Thoroughgood’s Student Fellow peers describe her as “genuine” and “kind”--two traits that she’s brought to her wide-ranging CTLM work. In the Fall of 2021, Courtney worked on the CTLM’s Inclusive Excellence Teaching & Learning Circle (TLC), helping students, staff, & faculty to imagine ways in which our learning spaces can be more just & equitable for all different types of learners. Courtney's thoughtful listening and strong collaboration skills provided powerful insights to the work advancing our Inclusive Pedagogy conversations. And this semester she’s helped to evolve the CTLM’s mid-semester feedback program, leading feedback sessions with students in Dr. Marc Brasof’s ED110 and Professor Cheryl Brooks’s FS270, and then helping the instructors to make sense of that feedback and incorporate it into their teaching moving forward. I never had the opportunity to work with Courtney directly and reading her CTLM colleagues’ comments about her has me regretting that. One Student Fellow likened her to “a ray of sunshine,” remarking on her ability to always “look on the bright side of things,” and another called her “kind-hearted and compassionate.”
“Out of all the Fellows, I’ve spent the most time working with Barbara. I find her adaptable and insightful, equal parts optimistic and realistic, and highly creative.” This is a statement that Monica Day, Our Inclusive Excellence Programs Support Specialist, made when I asked her to recount her experience with Barbara, but every word of it could also describe my experience with Barbara. This Newsletter—both this issue for which she wrote two pieces and designed graphics for several others AND the Newsletter as an ongoing project—very literally would not exist without Barbara. She is one of the founding Student Fellows and has contributed to all 11 Newsletters. Her contributions include several generously-conceived & thoughtfully-written articles, dozens of clever & beautiful graphics, and innumerable occasions of preserving the sanity of Ryan Hiemenz & I (her longtime counterparts on this Newsletter team). Beyond her work with the Newsletter, she’s been a foundational piece of the LOVE Pilot, bringing her deep empathy and vast social & emotional intelligence to both the planning & execution of that evolving project. Writers often use figurative language to elevate the simple or mundane to the transcendent or universal. A lover’s smile is likened to the summer sun; a child’s frown becomes a crescent moon on its side. I’ve used this tried & true method in several of my CTLM pieces over the last two years, but the gesture feels inadequate in trying to express the gratitude I feel for having worked with Barbara. In terms of her contributions to the CTLM, the sun & the moon would be lucky to be compared to Barbara.
Of all the many challenges of building, growing, sustaining, and evolving the Center for Teaching, Learning, & Mentoring, I think the greatest one has been trying to balance the abstract & the concrete. In a previous Newsletter, I wrote about the vibrancy of the standing CTLM Fellows meetings. Every discussion seems to have countless alleyways & cul-de-sacs for us to meander down, and we so often do. A conversation about the potential for a Friday Forum on assessment methods will end (45 minutes later) with a broader questioning of the function of grades in higher education (and the Friday Forum will not be planned). In those meetings, premises are rejected, buzzwords are deconstructed & then re-assembled—nothing is left unexamined. I’m not sure I’ve been part of a single CTLM meeting that has successfully made its way through all of its agenda items. At the end of the day though, if we’re going to be successful, we need to make things. Dr. Brittani Smit is one of the reasons this Center has made so many wonderful things over the past two years. She began with the Center as a Faculty/Staff Fellow supporting the LOVE Pilot and then transitioned into a more administrative role. Her ability to participate in creative & generative planning/discussion and then take the fruits of that labor and translate it into something actionable is astounding. Her thoughtful efficiency has made a better CTLM Fellow, and the patience & pragmatism she models as one of our leaders has made me a better teacher. At the end of this semester, Dr. Smit will be moving on from Arcadia University, but her generosity of spirit & fierce determination will continue to inform so much of the work we do as a Center.
The Center for Teaching, Learning, & Mentoring is less than two years old. But we are starting to take on a defined identity. Leigh, Tobi, Courtney, Barbara, & Dr. Smit are directly responsible for the intelligence, generosity, & diligence of that identity. On behalf of the entire CTLM, thank you.
The CTLM Team
Faculty Director (On Sabbatical Spring-Summer '22)
Dr. Ellen Skilton, Professor of Education
Acting Faculty Director (Spring-Summer '22)
Dr. Jodi Bornstein, Associate Professor of Education
Inclusive Excellence Programs Support Specialist
Monica Day, Adjunct Faculty, School of Education
Projects & Strategies Lead
Dr. Brittani Smit, Residence Director, South Africa Program
Faculty & Staff Fellows
Deja Edwards, Adjunct Professor of English
Lindsay McGann, Student Success Projects Manager (Division of Student Success) and Professional Faculty, Public Health
Dr. Katherine Moore, Associate Professor of Psychology
Dr. Prash Naidu, Assistant Professor of Historical and Political Studies
Daniel Pieczkolon, Adjunct Professor of English
Caitlin Bennett ‘23
Roksana Cerne '22
Julie Edmundson (SGO Liaison), ‘23
Leigh Ferrier, ‘22
Dez Gaud, ‘23
Ryan Hiemenz, ‘23
Irene Hoang '23
Jessica Hornig ‘23
Barbara St. Fleur, '22
Olutobi Tella ‘22
Courtney Thoroughgood, ‘22
Tessa Wrice, '22