The Derek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning provides comprehensive resources, programs, and support for GSAS students who work as teaching fellows and teaching assistants.


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Announcing the Bok Center’s Summer Seminar Series

Posted Monday, 27 June 2011

Contact the Bok Center for further information and to register.


1. Dissertation, Conference, Lecture: Advanced Communications Practices for Teachers and Scholars

Meeting twice a week for three weeks, beginning the week of June 27

Academic work involves communicating your ideas to multiple audiences in multiple registers. The way you articulate your ideas in a dissertation will be different from the way you pitch these ideas to a classroom full of undergraduates. And between or beyond these two communicative situations lie the conference PowerPoint presentation, the peer-reviewed article, the book proposal for Cambridge UP, the book proposal for Penguin, the grant proposal for research funding, the informal conversation at a dinner party with colleagues—perhaps even the op-ed or New Yorker article that popularizes your research with a broader audience. You need to be able to reformulate your message for each of these situations and audiences. You will need to communicate with voice, text, and images while also taking into account a given audience’s prior knowledge and expectations. These rhetorical gymnastics aren’t easy!

Luckily, there are certain communicative and rhetorical principles, skills, and tactics that tend to hold true for most of these situations, genres, and audiences. We will work on expressing your ideas with clarity, organization, and intent, in oral, textual, and visual modes of presentation. As we practice reformulating your material, you will hone your skills so that each subsequent “repackaging” of your ideas is easier to perform. Moreover, the ability to move from one communicative mode to another can actually deepen your own understanding of your material. If truth be told, it will even help your work on that “primary package,” the dissertation.

2. Public Speaking for Teachers and Scholars

Meeting twice a week for three weeks, beginning the week of June 27

As graduate students, post-doctoral fellows, and lecturers, we are constantly being asked to verbally represent ourselves and our ideas—in classrooms, conferences, interviews, and a range of personal and professional relationships. And yet it is rare that we are given time and space to carefully evaluate and hone our skills in oral presentation. We typically spend hours crafting the text of our papers, PowerPoints, and lectures, laboring over the best words with which to communicate our message; but when it comes to presenting orally, we often deliver our artful verbal design in a rushed monotone, fixing our eyes anywhere but on our audience, and looking like we would rather be getting oral surgery than giving an oral presentation.

This three week course is designed to help you become aware of your habits of communication—both good and bad—and to provide you with concrete strategies to improve your public speaking skills in a variety of contexts. We will explore effective public speaking strategies for the classroom, workshop ways of dealing with speaker anxiety, practice interview techniques, develop successful PowerPoint presentations, and practice delivering manuscripts at conferences. We will also discuss how to design and evaluate public speaking assignments—such as oral presentations and debates—that will deepen your students’ knowledge of course material and enhance the quality of discussion in your classroom.

3. This I Believe—Or Do I? Developing and Stating Your Teaching PhilosophyMeeting twice a week for three weeks, beginning the week of July 18

As those of you headed for the academic job market know, it is becoming increasingly standard for search committees to request that applicants submit a “Statement of Teaching Philosophy.” Unfortunately, applicants often find themselves struggling to prepare such statements at the last minute, often while simultaneously attempting to polish writing samples to perfection or even to finish off dissertations. Moreover, as busy teachers and researchers, most of us find it quite difficult to carve out the necessary time and space during the academic year to arrive at insightful and original positions on teaching, and we can't very well offer a “Statement” if there’s no philosophy to state.

Under these less-than-ideal conditions, we risk producing platitudinous clichés rather than original ideas, and doing nothing to separate ourselves from the 300 other applicants. If you'd like to get ahead of the game, and to spend a couple of weeks during the summer thinking about teaching at a more leisurely and thoughtful pace with some like-minded colleagues, this seminar will help. We will begin by reading and discussing some representative (but short!) selections from some major writers on teaching—from Socrates to Dewey—and by looking at some recent research on teaching and learning. We will then proceed to look at some sample Teaching Statements before drafting, workshopping, and revising our own.