• Teaching
  • Mommy, Is Manny a Boy or a Girl?

    My sister’s family went to a Red Sox game. This was many years ago when my niece was in the single digits, maybe 8 years old. The players were announced. Manny Ramirez. For some reason, he caught my niece’s attention, and she wanted to know: “Mommy, is Manny a boy or a girl?” This isn’t […]

  • Teaching
  • Roles and Purposes of Higher Education

    This year my school worked with the Policy Center on the First Year of College, now known as the Gardner Institute. Campus leadership used Gardner’s guidance to scrutinize our first year students’ experience. Gardner recommends organizing the work around nine committees, one committee for each of the “dimensions” they have identified. One of the dimensions […]

  • Teaching
  • Student Evaluations of Teaching (SET)

    One of the instructors in my department came by to see me. She was concerned about her spring semester teaching evaluations from her students (SET, which we call FCQs, for faculty course questionnaires). Now that she had seen the reports, she renewed a concern she had expressed about the chaos of the transition to online […]

  • Teaching
  • Since When?

    I recently shared a story about Halloween my freshman year of college. I like thinking about those good old days. I made lifelong friends. I am grateful for those friendships every day. Did I get a good education? Maybe. If I didn’t, I own my young-person’s choices. Because, as I have quoted elsewhere on this […]

  • Books
  • Roxane Gay’s Bad Feminist

    I binged on two of Roxane Gay’s books: Bad Feminist and Hunger. Bad Feminist was wise. Hunger was shocking, in an impressively plainspoken way. The essay in Bad Feminist that moved me to post was “Typical First Year Professor.” This incident, in particular: When I was a student listening to a boring professor drone endlessly, […]

  • Teaching
  • Culture of Helplessness?

    Lori Isbell has a story that I would file under “you can’t make this stuff up”: Recently, I received an email from a student asking me the name of a writer — a writer whose book we’d been reading for two weeks….I knew that the student owned the book, because I had seen her with […]

  • Teaching
  • You’re No Prize Either

    I’m the department chair now. It’s my first annual evaluation season. I’m thinking this is going to be hard for me. Two main reasons: I take things literally. My university uses a five point scale where 3 is “meets expectations.” But there’s a wink-wink use of the scale where 4, “exceeds expectations,” means “you are […]

  • Teaching
  • Emailing Professors

    How confident are you that you know how to write an impeccable email to a professor? If you aren’t confident, or maybe even if you are, please read this excellent article on how to email your professor. Please. The author (Laura Portwood-Stacer) breaks it down for us into ten easy steps. I’m often skeptical of […]