The past three months have been both extremely challenging and very rewarding for the Teaching & Learning Commons team. While we have been working overtime to help support the pedagogical and technological needs of our faculty, we are overjoyed that so many members of the university community are turning to us for assistance and placing their trust in our guidance.
Early on during the university’s pivot to remote instruction it became clear to me that we were going to struggle to meet the massive increase in demand for our support. The numbers certainly back this up, as we fulfilled well over 1000 additional requests this Spring over the Fall 2019 semester (not to mention hundreds more consultations). This trend has continued into the summer (and in my opinion is a wonderful problem to have).
But serious resource constraints bring difficult decisions and, as someone who stepped in to lead the Teaching & Learning Commons team only a month ahead of the shift to remote instruction, it was important to me to have a framework by which we could make some of those difficult decisions. Drawing on the work of Brené Brown, I shared a long list of values with the team and asked each of them to pick the two values that best reflected their own values and identities. This is always a challenging task given our multifaceted lives and intersectional identities, but everyone in the team enthusiastically participated in this exercise, giving me a clearer sense of who we are—as a group—both personally and professionally.
The resulting long list of values had some overlap across different members of the team, which is reflected in the larger sizes of some of the values in this word cloud:
I then sorted and organized these within broader groupings. For example, connection, collaboration, relationship, and belonging naturally grouped together (community), as did caring, compassion, generosity, love, kindness, and patience (care). Honesty, integrity, respect, ethics, and justice came together (ethics) , as did adaptability, creativity, and curiousity (creativity).
The team vetted and refined these groupings, which I then distilled into a statement of values. And while this isn’t a statement of our team’s mandate or vision, it does convey the authentic approach we will continue to take—as a group and as individuals—as we support our faculty and the broader university community.
The Teaching & Learning Commons provides pedagogical leadership that is community-oriented, ethically-minded, encourages creativity, and is grounded in a pedagogy of care.
We hope this approach resonates with you. I welcome your feedback.