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Director's Corner: Fall 2014/Winter 2015

Megan Elias

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Since my arrival as Director in August, I have been delighted with the active use BMCC faculty make of their CETLS. The CETLS at BMCC is a hub of lively conversation and activity related to teaching, learning, and scholarship across many disciplines. Some of the highlights of the semester’s pedagogy discussions have been sessions on how to adjust the curriculum to better serve students on the Autism Spectrum (Project PASS) and a presentation about using African culture and artifacts to teach Math (Prof. Nkechi Madonna Agwu). Among many offerings on the scholarly and creative side, faculty presented work about narrative medicine (James Tolan, English), meteorology (Kibrewossen Tesfagiorgis, Science), and culture and politics in the contemporary Dominican Republic (Zaida Lineweaver, Modern Languages; and Yadira Perez-Hazel, Center for Ethnic Studies).  Faculty and Staff Interest Groups met regularly to share works in progress and to plan for college-wide and CUNY events.

In the Spring semester, the CETLS will be involved in three new college-wide initiatives to support teaching and learning at BMCC. These are the BMCC Teaching Academy, the Gateway Course Initiative, and, in partnership with the library, the Open/Alternative Textbook Initiative. Faculty from many disciplines will be supported with stipends and workshops to develop new teaching strategies. The CETLS will host the workshops designed specifically for these initiatives, some of which will be open to all faculty and staff.

The BMCC Teaching Academy establishes four teaching circles comprised of new faculty and more seasoned colleagues to develop as classroom practitioners. With common readings, peer-observation, and specialized workshops, the BMCC Teaching Academy will offer new faculty a focused way to approach their practice.

The Gateway Course Initiative supports faculty who attempt to reduce the numbers of students ending the semester with either an F, a D or a W grade. Through strategic interventions, these faculty hope to keep more students engaged and successful in their course work. The strategies that this group develops  and the results of their research will be of interest nation-wide as the D, F&W rate in introductory courses is a problem throughout community college education.

The third major initiative launching in the Spring is likely to have immediate impact on the student experience. The Open/Alternative Textbook program supports faculty who want to replace costly textbooks with material that is cheap or free and often much more up-to-date than the usual textbook material. The effort is poised to save students in a variety of classes a total of more than $50,000 collectively.

Faculty and staff are cordially welcomed to present their creative, scholarly, and pedagogical work in the CETLS and should contact me to set up a time. I am also available for one-on-one discussions of your teaching and scholarship and look forward to helping you advance your career.

My email is