Category Archives: Teaching

bELONg rainbow

Transgender Inclusion in the Classroom

Stacy Jane Grover has a helpful post on Inside Higher Ed today about “Fostering Trans Inclusion in the Classroom.” One tip that’s easy to implement: Add gender pronouns to your email signature to help normalize the practice. I’ve started including a question about them on the student information cards I ask students to submit at the start of each semester, and I state mine (she/her) when I introduce myself to students on the first day of class.

A second tip Grover offers that’s as – if not more – important but perhaps harder to implement: Correct yourself when you make a mistake. The Q Center has an important post by Nash Jones, highlighting that when you misgender someone, you should focus on the needs of the person you misgendered, avoid being defensive, and acknowledge the mistake and move on.

Collie Fulford (North Carolina Central University) and I recently offered a workshop on Affirming LGBTQIA Campus Members. Collie created a resource document that has several helpful links to other recent essays, relevant policies, and campus strategies.

Classroom Pedagogies and Prep Time

In a recent conversation, a friend/colleague made a passing comment about Reacting to the Past appealing to me because the class sessions are somewhat scripted. Indeed, I do like to map things out and anticipate future steps, when possible. Reflecting on his comment, though, I realize that the pedagogy may be deceptive to teachers who haven’t used it before; at it’s core, Reacting might be described as role play of past events, so it’s easy to understand why colleagues might think that Reacting teachers can predict how the lessons will unfold.

In reality, when I teach with Reacting pedagogy, the games never take the same path from semester to semester. Students’ unique dispositions lead them to research different cultural-historical factors, in turn changing how they prepare for specific sessions. One semester a metic might take an active – and unchallenged – role in shaping Athen’s government; another semester, the metic may be too apprehensive about pushing boundaries or more hesitant about public speaking – or may be challenged about the legitimacy of his participation.  One semester the labor faction might quickly establish its centrality in Greenwich Village, while in another semester, the suffragists might organize more quickly to sway the indeterminate villagers.

As a result, Reacting is the most time-intensive pedagogy I use in the classroom. Students email to ask about implementing new strategies that aren’t covered in game books and role sheets; they stop by office hours to request feedback on speeches and writing assignments; and they often extend the game beyond class spaces and hours. As a result, my teaching prep time also expands, sometimes exponentially.

My students’ learning outcomes make the time and energy investment worthwhile, but I do limit myself to only one or two reacting games a semester in order to balance teaching activities with other career responsibilities. My colleague’s comment reminds me, though, that as academic developers work with faculty to identify appropriate pedagogies to support desired learning outcomes, we must be transparent and upfront about the hidden time commitments of high-impact pedagogies. Helping faculty anticipate the “costs” associated with using these teaching techniques may lead to implementing them in more sustainable ways.