Teaching and Scholarship Renewal Week Returns

Faculty and teaching staff at Mount Holyoke College gathered for their annual Teaching and Scholarship Renewal Week, which had been suspended since 2019 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

As classes came to a close in spring of 2023, faculty and teaching staff at Mount Holyoke College gathered for their annual Teaching and Scholarship Renewal Week, which had been suspended since 2019 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Organized by the Teaching and Learning Initiative (TLI) and held this year from May 15-17, the retreat had four primary goals: connection, reflection, reinforcement and extension.

“The process of reflection is one of the ways that we learn from our efforts and grow in our effectiveness as teachers and learners,” said Jennifer Wallace Jacoby, associate professor of psychology and education, director of first-year seminars and director of the teaching and learning initiative. “Having the time to reflect can be really important for reinforcing our understanding of what worked and extending our thinking about what else we could do in our classrooms, labs and other teaching environments.”

The retreat featured a panel of student perspectives, workshops on mid-career strategies and provided video content for classes, sessions on ChatGPT and accommodations implementation strategies, as well as an end of year forum with new faculty.

The event also had a keynote from Carmen Yulín Cruz, the former Weissman Fellow for Leadership at the College. “Thank you for bringing me back home!” she said to the gathered College faculty.

“Everything I am, I owe to a teacher,” Cruz said. “Teachers are really the cornerstone of society.”

TLI at Mount Holyoke College is the campus hub for the study and development of learning-centered teaching and curricular innovation at the College. The initiative is committed to academic excellence, creative collaboration and the cultivation of an inclusive, twenty-first century student and faculty community.

TLI holds multiple events throughout the academic year and the summer, including monthly “Talk About Teaching” sessions and faculty learning circles. In the 2023-24 academic year, TLI will relaunch its Faculty Fellows program to support faculty who are interested in immersing themselves in a year-long teaching-as-research project.

The Teaching and Scholarship Renewal Week dates back to 2012, when it was run by Becky Wai-Ling Packard, professor of psychology and education, and called the May Retreat on Teaching. In 2017, Elizabeth Markovits was tapped to run it and the title was changed.

Reviewing this year’s event, Jacoby was thrilled, not only with its return, but with its innovative community building.

“I was really excited about the number of campus entities and academic departments reflected by the participants,” she said. “It was so incredible to have athletic coaches, lab instructors, LITS staff, newer faculty colleagues and seasoned Mount Holyoke faculty all in the same room together.”

Jacoby continued, “Several faculty have commented how much they appreciated hearing from the students [on the panel]. I really appreciated it, too. I know it's a bit intimidating to get up in front of a room of people who have graded your work and talk about what helped and what didn't in their classes, but our students always rise to the challenge and hearing from them was really important.”

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