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Summer workshops (#1145)

Topics/tags: Grinnell, Teaching, end-notable

There are many great things about working at Grinnell. One that I particularly appreciate is the availability of summer workshops that build community and help us grow as teachers. I try to attend a few summer workshops each summer. It’s good to grow. And I always learn from doing things with my colleagues. I also appreciate that we get compensated for attending [1], although I also regularly attend workshops for which I did not receive compensation. But it’s nice to know that the administration acknowledges that extra work deserves extra compensation [4].

But the compensation is not the point of this musing. The workshops are. In most summers, I identify more workshops that I’d like to take than I can ever hope to attend. This summer, I need to take it easy (or at least easier). And I’m traveling a bit [5,6,7]. Let’s consider them in order.

Paula Smith and Dustin Dixon are teaching Workshop A, Traditional and New Ways of Teaching HUM 101 [8]. I’ve never taught HUM-101, The Ancient Greek World. I’m unlikely to ever teach HUM-101. But it would be kind of fun to teach it if I was allowed to. I did take Greek Thought and Literature back when I was an undergrad at UofC. And it would be fun to learn from a thoughtful senior colleague (Paula) and an awesome younger colleague (Dustin). Unfortunately, the workshop is only open to those who’ve taught the course recently or who are in the Humanities. I’m not sure why someone in, say, Studio Art, is any more qualified to teach the course than the average liberally educated faculty member, but that’s their choice [10]. Also, it’s the week that summer research starts, and I don’t want to schedule a workshop the week summer research starts [12].

I also suppose that if I were going to do a workshop that week, I would do workshop B, Building a Cross Disciplinary Film and Media Studies Concentration, with Nicky Tavares and Lee Running. I’d like to support the new concentration. I’d like to know more about what they plan: Traditionally, Film and Media Studies focuses more on the study of film and media than on the creation of film and media; I seem to recall hearing that Grinnell’s would emphasize creation. And I’ve already heard one colleague at another school say Be ready. At my school, Film and Media Studies has been a lot like CS: rapid and sustained growth. I also wonder whether the workshop will include a discussion of what will happen with the space designated for Film and Media Studies. And, as I’ve said before, I took a lot of film classes at UofC [14] and would like to know more about how Film Studies is changing. Oooh. Maybe I do want to participate. Decisions. Decisions. Decisions. Sorry, Micki. Sorry, students. I’m still considering it.

The next week (June 7–11) brings us Workshop C, Creating Inclusive Learning Spaces: Feminism, Social Justice, and Belonging at Grinnell [15]. Once again, it’s taught by two awesome faculty, John Garrison and Carolyn Herbst Lewis [16]. And it’s an important topic. But I’ve taken similar workshops before and, um, I think I’m scheduled to do grading for AP CS Principles that week [17].

The following week (June 14–18) brings us Workshop D, An Introduction to ArcGIS and StoryMaps, with Gina Donovan and Tierney [18] Steelberg. One of my best friends works for ESRI, yet I’ve never learned ArcGIS. I’ve liked the courses I’ve taken from Gina before. I’d like to get to know our newest Digital Liberal Arts Specialist [19]. But I’m cutting. So no on this one.

The week of June 21 brings a workshop I was planning to co-lead at one point or another, Workshop E, Revisiting Grading: For Sanity, Transparency, and Equity. Okay, I was planning on working with PM on an Equitable Grading workshop; I believe this one merges two related workshops. It’s being run by some awesome people [20], including not only Peter-Michael Osera, but also Susan Ferguson, Cynthia Hansen, and Vanessa Preast. All else being equal, this would be my top workshop. But I may be on vacation for part of the week. And mornings are supposed to be devoted to my research students. Perhaps I’ll sneak into the workshop off and on without registering formally.

The week of June 28 brings us Workshop F, Digital Storytelling, with Gina Donovan. As I’ve said, I learn a lot from Gina. But it sounds like this is primarily a skills development workshop, and digital storytelling is not a skill I particularly care to develop at this point in my career. Also, I’m unlikely to be available this week.

The same week brings us Workshop G, Commenting on (Multilingual) Student Writing, with Tisha Turk and Erin Todey [21,23]. Tisha’s been an amazing addition to Grinnell [24]. And I’ve learned something from Erin every time that we’ve talked. So this would be fun and valuable. Nonetheless, I think it falls in the Not this year category because (a) I’ll be away for part of the week and (b) I’m not teaching much writing next year [25]. I also spent a workshop day with Tisha and Erin on these issues last summer.

Tisha is busy with workshops this summer. The following week, she’s running Workshop H, Assessing Student Writing: Reflection and Next Steps, along with Taylor Price. I spent at least three summers, and perhaps more, participating in summer writing assessment workshops. I have such fond memories of those workshops. I learned a lot in those, particularly early in my career when I got to compare my grading of papers to those of experienced faculty like Kent McClelland and Paula Smith. I also got to meet new faculty in those workshops; I remember when Cori Jakubiak participated before she’d even started at Grinnell [27]. And I saw the evolution of our writing assessment, from a time when we gathered papers early and late in student careers but without the assignments, to a much more focused strategy that included not just the assignments, but the students reflecting on their growth [28]. And I care about assessment. Damn! Another tempting one. Choosing was much easier before I decided to muse about all of them. But I’m just back from vacation and my students deserve my time. So, although it’s painful to write it, this is probably a no.

Marching onward, I see that the following week (July 12–15) has Workshop I, Living [O]ur Values: Grinnell’s First-Year Experience Course. I did this workshop last summer. It was wonderful. I learned a lot. I’d recommend it to everyone. But I’ve done it already. So, while it might be fun to do again, it’s low on my priority list. And just in case you’re worried about it, I’m not planning to teach FYEC this coming spring.

Workshop J, Tutorial Instructors, is another workshop I did last summer. It’s also probably not available to me, since I’m not teaching Tutorial this fall [29]. Paul Hutchison and Carolyn Jacobson, two awesome colleagues, are running it again. I encourage everyone who is teaching Tutorial to take it.

Workshop K, Unteaching Racism: Understanding and Handling Misuse of Racial Categories is being offered by Leslie Gregg-Jolly and Katya Gibel-Mevorach during the week of July 26-28. It sounds like this is an extension of their popular Racing Genetics course. I relish the opportunity to take a workshop with Professor Katya and my good friend in biology. Plus, it’s an incredibly important topic in these times, and I expect that Leslie and Katya will present some importantly different perspectives. I think this is the winner!

Workshop L, Becoming a Story Spotter is being offered by folk from Communications: Michele Regenold, Justin Hayworth, Dayna Jensen, and Mattia Wells. I’m glad that Communications is reaching out to collaborate with faculty and staff on developing stories. I don’t know most of these folks well, except for Justin, who is an awesome photographer. But I’m not doing two workshops in one week, and Workshop K has already been identified as the winner.

Vanessa Preast is offering Workshop M, Survey Says! Creating Qualtrics Surveys , at some unknown date. I know enough about Qualtrics to be dangerous. Would this help me learn more? Probably. But I’d prefer to learn things on demand. I’ll ask Vanessa for the materials. I hope she reminds people that Submit and Next buttons should be different [30].

David Perez and Taylor Price from the writing lab are running Workshop N, Rewriting the Reading Assignment, the week of August 2–6. It even comes with a free book, and it may be in person. That’s tempting; just the opportunity to be with other faculty would be great. And I like being the challenging outsider, Reading a CS/Math book is different than reading other books; what do you recommend for me? But it’s the last week of summer research. Maybe I’ll take a look at the book on my own.

If that weren’t enough for the week, Mo Pelzel and Tierney Steelberg are running Workshop O, Home on the Web: Using Web Domains and Sites for Teaching, Scholarship, and Professional Development [31], the same week. I’m pretty good at creating Web sites and having students create Web sites; I’ve been doing so since 1995. If I attended, I’d likely end up being a troublemaker (I don’t want my students to use some crappy site builder; they should write raw HTML/CSS.). So it’s probably best that I not attend, even if I’d likely learn some new uses of the Web, as I always learn from Mo. Also, it’s the last week of summer research [32].

NSO [33] begins on August 20 and classes begin on August 26, so you might think we’d have exhausted the summer workshops. Nonetheless, there are still three more to go [34].

Todd Armstrong is offering Workshop P, A Global Kitchen in the Liberal Arts, the week of August 9–12. Todd’s made great use of cooking in his classes, from a Tutorial to an evening class or Russian culture. I also think Todd was a driving force behind the Global Kitchen in the HSSC. Computer science has many ties to cooking and recipes; both are about writing instructions for others to follow. I could lead some discussions about how you write algorithmic recipes for different audiences. But I’m spending the week after summer research with Michelle. No workshops for me!

That also means that I won’t be at Workshop Q, Restorative Practices Circle Facilitation Training, with our Ombuds, Chinyere Ukabiala, and Brigittine French. I’ve so appreciated the circle sessions I’ve been to this year; I’d call them more community building than restorative practices, but both goals are important and likely overlap. I’d place this only slightly below the equitable grading workshop in my priority list. But no, I"m spending my week with Michelle. This one doesn’t even warrant a second consideration. I hope lots of others will attend and that we’ll offer this workshop again another summer.

Finally, Workshop R is Writing and Research Assignments (for new faculty), taught by Tisha Turk and Phil Jones. This one is offered the same week as NFO [35]. The last time I checked, this fall will be my twenty-fifth fall at Grinnell. I think that means that I’m not the audience. And this is likely another one where my curmudgeonly personality would arise: In the sciences, Library Research is not what we generally mean by Research, or something like that [36].

I feel fortunate to be at an institution which supports such a variety of interesting workshop and which attracts such wonderful colleagues to lead the workshops. I wish I could take more. Perhaps I should take a summer off and just take workshops. But no, if I take a summer off, it should be to live with my wonderful wife in the far-off town that Oughta Bin.

That’s enough musing for today. But I mustn’t forget to submit my preferences. And if you’re a Grinnell faculty/staff member, you should, too!

[1] We is an awkward word here. Faculty on nine-month contracts [2] receive compensation for attending summer workshops. Faculty on twelve-month contracts, as well as most staff, do not receive compensation. Most faculty and staff who attend workshops believe everyone who attends the workshops should get the same compensation [3]. But HR is, well, HR. At least that’s what I’m told.

[2] Most of the faculty, with the exception of the library faculty and, perhaps, some others.

[3] Those who design and run workshops deserve more. And yes, they receive it.

[4] It would be nicer if the administration acknowledged that summer workshops are still extra work for those on eleven-month and twelve-month contracts.

[5] Yes, that’s part of take it easy.

[6] Don’t worry, GC Administration. I’m fully immunized. I don’t plan to be anywhere crowded. And I’m not traveling on College business.

[7] Don’t worry, GC Administration. I’m making plans for my summer students when I’m out of town.

[8] Aren’t we supposed to hyphenate course numbers? [9]

[9] I’ll admit that I’ve rarely been consistent in how I write course numbers. There are times I would have written it as HUM101. There are times I would have written it as HUM 101. These days, I include the hyphen at least in most cases.

[10] Or maybe it’s their funding agency’s choice; it’s supported by our Mellon Humanities In Action [11] grant.

[11] No offense intended, but am I the only one who worries about the misreading of this title?

[12] It wouldn’t have stopped me in prior years, but I’m trying to be more sensible.

[14] Both as an undergrad and as a graduate student.

[15] Yay, love to see Oxford Commas in workshop titles.

[16] I forget whether Carolyn prefers Carolyn Lewis, as it’s listed, or Carolyn Herbst Lewis, as I think of her.

[17] Yes, I realize that my version of taking it easy is different than other people’s. But there’s a brand new version of the AP CS Principles exam and I want to learn about it and the new rubric. AP Grading is also a comparatively low-stress activity.

[18] likes to call Tierney Tyranny. Yay, AI!

[19] Or whatever title that position has morphed into.

[20] Maybe I need to stop calling the workshop leaders awesome; it seems that the odds that the workshop leaders are awesome is close to 100%.

[21] Misspelled as Today in the form. Probably a case of autocorrect [22]. Am I the only one who notices such things?

[22] Grammarly also wants me to change Todey to Today.

[23] My brain isn’t working today. Now I’m trying to remember how to pronounce Todey. I think it’s Todd-ee. Forgive me, Erin. All I remember is Tah Dah!.

[24] Of course, our prior writing lab directors were also awesome.

[25] Or maybe I am. My schedule is not yet set. There’s a chance I’ll be teaching a course on ethics and inclusion in computing [26].

[26] I need to write the long-overdue proposal for that course, but that’s awaiting a lot of other departmental decisions. I don’t want to spend time on the proposal unless I know I’ll be teaching the course.

[27] Cori’s tenured now. It’s hard to believe. They grow up so fast.

[28] Or am I misremembering?

[29] I’m not even sure when or if I’ll ever get to teach Tutorial again.

[30] Too many surveys at Grinnell use an arrow for both Next and Submit. The arrow should not be used for Submit. And shame on Qualtrics for making the arrow the default button symbol.

[31] Whoo! More Oxford commas.

[32] Well, it’s the last week of my summer research program, which starts on June 1. I think we’re allowed to start a week or two later, which means that the ten weeks end a week or two later.

[33] New Student Orientation.

[34] Or maybe four, if Workshop M gets scheduled in mid-August.

[35] New Faculty Orientation.

[36] There are a host of issues that make me curmudgeonly about how we use the term research.

Version 1.0 of 2021-05-14 .