What’s in a name?

Judy Davidson’s advice column in Faculty Focus this week couldn’t be more timely, arriving just as our rosters firm up at the end of add/drop.  When it comes to getting students to engage in the classroom, an environment that makes each student feel essential to the learning process is a powerful asset.  Judy’s piece offers a set of concrete tips on how to spend a small amount of time to build a connected team of learners who are ready to speak up, dig in, and support one another throughout the semester.  The first step: getting students to know their classmates by name.

The article offers a number of quick-but-powerful suggestions for getting students to make connections with one another through introductions, class discussions, and group work.

For the full article, visit http://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/teaching-and-learning/activities-helping-students-learn-one-anothers-name/

Paula Haines, Coordinator of the First Year Writing Program

Welcome, Spring 2014!

The UMass Lowell campus is coming back to life. The copiers are on overdrive, printing the syllabi that we’ll hand out next week.  As you prepare for the start of Spring 2014, here’s a link to an article on “The First Day” by our own John Kaag, printed in The Chronicle of Higher Education back in December 2012.  The advice is absolutely timely: John offers a few reminders, tips, and encouragements to help us set the tone for a productive semester as we meet our new students for the first time.

Have a terrific Spring 2014, everyone!

A guiding hand in the classroom

John Kaag’s opinion items in Times Higher Education are all worth the read; his “Parental guidance required” is a short meditation on the complex, competing priorities of academic life.  His conclusion reminds us that the classroom is a place to listen, encourage and connect:

“My daughter has taught me several things that I didn’t learn, or just forgot, in graduate school: that the simplest things are often the most profound, that many kids who have trouble speaking want desperately to communicate, that my writing must matter to a wider public and that I don’t have to be imperially alone in my ivory tower.”

For the full article, visit http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/comment/opinion/parental-guidance-required/2004709.article.

Paula Haines, Coordinator of the First Year Writing Program