About the author: Brenna Gomez, MFA, is the Director of Career Integration in the Career Development Center. She works with OSU faculty and other stakeholders on helping students connect the dots between the coursework they take at OSU and their future career goals. In her free time she writes fiction.
In April, the CTL held the Resilient Teaching Symposium. At the symposium, Dr. Inara Scott, Assistant Dean for Teaching and Learning Excellence in the College of Business, discussed the various types of burnout and how they impact us differently (ex: resting when what you actually need is connection will not make you feel better and vice versa). Dr. Scott discussed the concept of resiliency, and then the group was divided into breakout rooms to discuss specific strategies we use to keep ourselves resilient in the face of the ever-changing times we live in.
Many of the participants in my breakout room gravitated towards discussing resiliency at work. In terms of my own work practices, I occasionally teach technical writing in the School of Writing, Literature, and Film, but my primary role is running the Career Champions faculty professional development program. When I think of building resiliency at work, I think of running this program. Career Champions provides faculty and instructors with tangible ways to add career connection in the classroom, while also examining barriers to access for students of color, first-generation students, and low-income students. As facilitator of the program, I see myself as more of a “guide on the side than a sage on the stage.” Despite faculty not being my “students”, if I am their guide, I still need to be resilient so I can provide authentic facilitation, and I need to provide space for faculty to build resilience for themselves as they typically take this program while they are teaching their own courses.
One philosophy that helps keep me resilient is the idea that a few small changes make a big difference. If I’m improving a course while I’m teaching (rather than in the summer), making one-two manageable changes until I can come back to my curriculum, is still doing meaningful work and making improvements for my students. If I try to do everything all at once, I run the risk of burnout. With this philosophy in mind, every term I assess Career Champions and use faculty feedback to make changes. Several members of the fall 2021 cohort suggested a reduction in materials to keep the workshop manageable. The return to campus was difficult for many. We are still working and teaching through a pandemic. A reduction made sense to me—I just had to be sure to do it without negatively impacting my scaffolding. I cut several articles that were ultimately supplemental and added them to the “Additional Materials & Resources” module on Canvas.
Requiring only what was essential for faculty gives them the ability to engage with Career Champions deeply and not superficially, especially while they balance programming with their own course loads and departmental work. Since this is a studio site, faculty can return to materials long after the program has ended.
The resilient teaching symposium was a good reminder that we don’t need to do everything all at once. In order to avoid the different kinds of burnout that Dr. Inara Scott discussed, sometimes we need to move slowly and methodically. What one change can you make now that will improve your course? What can you consider over the summer or at a later date? Slow and steady wins the race and might just make you more resilient so you can maintain investment and engagement in the things important to you.
King, Alison. (1993). From Sage on the Stage to Guide on the Side. College Teaching, 44(1), 30-35. https://faculty.washington.edu/kate1/ewExternalFiles/SageOnTheStage.pdf
Interested in resilient teaching? Apply to join a CTL Summer ’22 Resilient Teaching Faculty Learning Community by May 31.