Mapping the Semester

By Ryan Donovan|May 30, 2015|Reflection|2 comments

I could only hope that my students got half as much out of our semester together as I did as a result of participating in “Mapping the Futures of Higher Education.” Being a part of this experiment was a profound experience for me, one that has certainly initiated a desire to keep this work going. One of the highlights of the semester was our celebration on May 22. To look around the room and see the wonderful diversity in a room and building that, generally speaking, is pretty homogenous was a reminder of the importance of the work we all did this semester. It was empowering to the students to be brought together in the same room though they came from many different CUNY campuses. Getting to meet the mother of one of my students was also a real joy for me, making me realize that the work we all did together echoes beyond our classrooms into the world.

What follows is a “map” of my semester in MTFOHE.

In the first class session, as we met and plunged into deciding the direction of the course, I knew that I wanted to talk about bodies and non-verbal communication in the classroom. Luckily, Hilarie and Richard were interested in similar areas and we formed a group that facilitated our sessions on “Embodiment and the Classroom.” Here is a collaboratively-written recap of how that all went down.

My interest in the topic was sparked after someone shared social psychologist Amy Cuddy’s TED Talk with me and I was able to use her techniques to help me pass my first comprehensive exam among other things. Developmental psychologist Susan Goldin-Meadow‘s work on gesture and non-verbal communication were also foundational. The third component of my approach was the power of play.

Play is an inherently student-centered approach to learning, as are games (not all play involves games). I was initially having a little bit of trouble getting my students to sign up for the course website/forum/CBox site, so I devised a way to encourage participation. It worked and all of my students joined our group. Together, we created a map called “Theatre Across New York City” based on the student’s first writing assignment of the semester.

I also incorporated elements of play into assessment activities. I was specifically inspired to weave these together after our class sessions on assessment, student-centered learning, and persistence. For an example of how and why I did this, click here. Another classroom activity that I did that incorporated all of these elements is described here. I was really interested in how all of our sessions connected with each other and strove to think about this as I planned my classes, which leads me to my post about preparation and assessment.

Additionally, I contributed a few posts about various topics related to the course: adjunctification of the university, coming out as an adjunct, and some exciting resources I wanted to share.

Finally, here is a link to a syllabus that I have designed on Sophocles’ Antigone. This course was inspired by one that I took this semester called “The Ancient World Through Modern Eyes” with visiting Professor Rhonda Garelick. This course performed its own kind of mapping, both temporal and spatial, and the course I have designed intends to mirror this.

 

 

 

2 Comments

  1. What great work you did and contributed and passed on to your students, Ryan. And, I agree, May 22 was an unforgettable time, for me, for us, for everyone there, I think, and maybe for the GC and CUNY. It would not have happened if everyone hadn’t been willing to jump into this experiment with full passion and power. To see something so random and raw become a community remains one of the most inspiring outcomes in a long career. Thank you for all, Ryan.

  2. Pingback: Mapping the Futures of Higher Education Year-End Celebration | The Futures Initiative

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