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From the Executive Director, Derek Bruff

Posted by on Wednesday, June 9, 2021 in Commentary.

My wife and I started birdwatching earlier this year. Working from home helped us appreciate the feathered residents of our backyard, and now we keep an eye out for colorful birds when we walk at places like Radnor Lake. And, as of this morning, we have an empty nest—literally. The family of house finches that nested in our front door wreath have moved on, with the three baby finches flying away for the first time.

The past year set the stage for many of us not only to learn new hobbies, but also to learn new ways to teach. Unlike birdwatching, our new teaching practices weren’t entirely optional; the need to teach in online and hybrid settings required us to learn new technologies and new pedagogies. But I know that many of us will carry what we’ve learned into our future teaching in more conventional settings, just as I will keep birdwatching this fall.

Reflecting on a year of adaptive teaching, determining what elements of that teaching to continue, and figuring out how to incorporate those elements in classroom teaching… all that will take time and energy. That’s why the Center for Teaching staff is slowing down this summer, looking back at the past year and taking some much needed time off. If you need us, don’t hesitate to reach out, but we’re not planning any new workshops or conversations until August.

In August, however, the Center will offer a variety of events on the theme of returning to the classroom. Making plans for the fall that take advantage of what we’ve learned this past year… there’s no reason to do that alone! Stay tuned for workshops and panels on educational technologies, classroom facilitation strategies, inclusive teaching approaches, and more this August, all designed to help the Vanderbilt teaching community foster meaningful student learning.

One more piece of news: I’m excited to welcome Seo Lim (Jenny) Park to the Center for Teaching team. Jenny is our newest instructional technologist, part of the Center’s Brightspace support team. Jenny comes to us from Brown University, where she just completed a Master of Arts in public humanities and served as a digital learning and design graduate fellow. Jenny’s position at the Center is a new one, recently approved by the provost to expand our Brightspace support capacity. Welcome, Jenny!

Derek Bruff, executive director, Vanderbilt Center for Teaching






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