Oct 14, 2016 | Atlanta, GA
A few years ago, Joyce Weinsheimer thought her work at the recently renamed Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) was finished. She was wrong.
“After more than 40 years in education, I thought it might be time to retire,” said Weinsheimer, who is now director of CTL. “But, the opportunity to create a culture at this university that promotes and rewards excellence in teaching — something I’ve always been passionate about — presented itself. And I couldn’t say ‘no’ to the challenge.”
Recently, Weinsheimer shared her thoughts on CTL’s new name, other changes, and more about why she’s excited about her new role. Read on to find out more.
So, why change the center’s name?
We wanted our emphasis to be on teaching and learning. When newcomers read “the enhancement of” in our name, they thought our focus was on fixing poor teaching. We sent out a survey to faculty and administrators, and 90 percent thought the change to Center for Teaching and Learning was a good idea.
Who can use CTL's services?
Anyone teaching at Georgia Tech — whether the person is a faculty member, a temporary/part-time instructor, a postdoctoral scholar, a graduate student, an undergraduate who serves as a teaching assistant (TA) or tutor, or a staff member who teaches GT 1000. There are a lot of different teaching roles on our campus, and CTL connects with them all.
What are some of the challenges that instructors at Georgia Tech face, and how can CTL help?
Having enough time to do everything well is difficult. This especially can pose a challenge to those who want to excel in both teaching and research. So, CTL provides a variety of ways to explore best teaching practices. Those who choose to invest just a little time can attend a workshop, consult about a particular class, or join our book club. Those who want to go into more depth can participate in a faculty learning community on a topic of their choice or participate in the future faculty program.
What are you looking forward to most about your work as director?
As I’ve mentioned, I’m really passionate about creating a culture at Tech that promotes and rewards excellence in teaching. I want our students to have an educational experience that energizes them and prepares them for the future. We have instructors here who are using innovative strategies that engage students in the hard work of learning. As CTL’s director, I want to highlight what these folks are doing and help more of our instructional staff use evidence-based practices that enhance student learning. In addition, I enjoy working with my campus colleagues on “Creating the Next” in teaching and learning. How will we respond to the challenges that are emerging? What bold actions will we take to ensure that the educational experience we offer is worthwhile? I like being part of the “next” and helping it take shape at Tech.
Are there any new additions to the CTL staff?
I’ve changed the structure of CTL a bit this year. David Lawrence is now associate director, and we have organized CTL into three areas: learning and technology initiatives, TA development and future faculty initiatives, and faculty teaching and learning initiatives. We’ve welcomed two new staff members — Kate Williams and Tammy McCoy — both of which will work with our TA development and future faculty initiatives. We also hope to have a postdoctoral fellow join us soon.
What changes will CTL make in the next few months?
I want to lead us into a new era of collaboration among administrators, instructional staff, and support units to maximize student learning on this campus. We have two new important partnerships underway:
- Provost Teaching and Learning Fellows. This new program makes it possible for CTL to partner with each of the colleges/schools and work on college-specific initiatives. With the help of the deans, we will select two to five fellows from each college to work directly with CTL in this hub-and-spoke model. This new collaboration will allow us to connect the expertise of CTL professionals with the expertise of disciplinary faculty. Together, we’ll enhance the learning environment in ways we have not been able to do before.
- CIRTL Network. We recently joined the Center for the Integration of Research, Teaching and Learning (CIRTL) Network and are now partnering with 46 research universities to prepare future faculty in all disciplines (with a particular emphasis on STEM fields). This means that beginning this fall, Tech grad students and postdocs who want to pursue the Tech to Teaching Certificate will have more pathways to satisfy the requirements of the program.
What are some of the highlights of CTL’s recently redesigned website? How is it more useful to the campus community?
There was just so much information to digest on the old site. Now, whether you’re a faculty member, a postdoc, or a student, the information is easier to find. Also, our events page breaks out teaching and learning-related events according to audience. Best of all, the homepage now features news and information related to teaching and learning for the whole campus — so, it’s easier to know what’s happening at Tech.
Can you share a few new publications that you’d recommend to instructors trying to learn more about best practices?
Right now our book club is looking at Are You Smart Enough? by Alexander W. Astin. Next, we’re reading Minds Online: Teaching Effectively with Technology by Michelle D. Miller. We’ll discuss this book during the Oct. 28, and Nov. 11 meetings — so stop by CTL to pick up a book, then join us in book club for a glass of wine and a great discussion!
To learn more about CTL, visit ctl.gatech.edu