Hello, colleagues:

Upfront, let me just say this: if you’re feeling stressed, just close this e-mail and come back to it later. Honestly. As much as teaching and learning are at the heart (or, Harte) of what we do, we all need a break. Everything here can wait.

For those of you who have the energy to keep reading, I’m going to try and keep this light: first, a couple of upcoming events and opportunities. Then, some resources for leisurely and/or recovery reading.

Take care, all




Upcoming Events

1) There is Work to be Done, Part 3: Disrupting Systems in Academia

2) OK Zoomer: Going Beyond the Basics (Repurposing Zoom Tooms for Increased Student Engagement)

3) Teacher/Scholar James Lang on distracted students and small shifts in teaching that will have a major impact.

4) Three Winter Term Book Clubs

Resources for Leisure and Healing

5) Comfort Reading, Watching, Listening, and Eating

6) The On Being poetry collection


1) There is Work to Be Done Part 3: Disrupting Systems in Academia — Tuesday, 12 January, 12:30pm – 2:00pm

In the final session of our decolonization and anti-racism series, Dr. Chanelle Wilson of Bryn Mawr will lead us in a discussion of strategies to disrupt systems of educational oppression and mobilize against the status quo. Undergraduate students, involved in decolonizing anti-racist work, will join us to share their experiences and support our process. Please bring any work/notes that you have on your process, along with questions for student participants that will inform/guide small group sessions. Students will facilitate these gatherings, providing consultative feedback to participants from the student perspective. Our hope is that you will leave the space energized and inspired to continue in your transformational journey.

Sign up here

2) OK Zoomer: Going Beyond the Basics (Repurposing Zoom Tooms for Increased Student Engagement)–Wednesday, 13 January, 12:00pm – 1:30pm. 

Have you noticed that while there are lots of avenues to learn Zoom 101 (muting the microphone, changing your name, going into Gallery view) there are not a lot of resources that go beyond that?

This workshop builds on techniques developed by the Applied Improvisation Network to do things with Zoom that you have never seen before! Tips and tricks not yet widely known that will make your Zoom class meetings more effective and engaging. We will be using features of Zoom in ways that they were not originally intended to be used, have a good time, and you will leave with new ideas you can use right away, and a new mindset that will make you feel charged and happy to continue making discoveries.

Sign up here

3) Teacher/Scholar James Lang on distracted students and small shifts in teaching that will have a major impact. 

Dr. James Lang is the single most influential writer at work in the field of the scholarship of teaching and learning today. His virtual visit to Washington and Lee reschedules two workshops–one on teaching in the age of distraction, the other on “small teaching” methods–cancelled last Spring due to the pandemic.

Teaching Distracted Students–Thursday, 27 January, 12:00pm – 1:30pm

As faculty struggle with the problem of distracted students on our campuses and in our classes, they have become increasingly frustrated by the ways in which digital devices can interfere with student learning. But are students today more distracted than they were in the past?  Has technology reduced their ability to focus and think deeply, as some popular books have argued? This lecture draws upon scholarship from history, neuroscience, and education in order to provide productive new pathways for faculty to understand the distractible nature of  the human brain, work with students to moderate the effects of distraction in their learning, and even leverage the distractible nature of our minds for new forms of connected and creative thinking. 

Sign up here

Interested in a preview? Check out this podcast interview with Lang.

Small Teaching: From Minor Changes to Major Learning–Tuesday, 2 February, 12:00pm – 1:30pm

Research from the learning sciences and from a variety of educational settings suggests that a small number of key principles can improve learning in almost any type of college or university course, from traditional lectures to flipped classrooms. This workshop will introduce some of those principles, offer practical suggestions for how they might foster positive change in higher education teaching and learning, and guide faculty participants to consider how these principles might manifest themselves in their current and upcoming courses.

Sign up here

4) Three Winter Term Book Clubs

Yes, we know: three book clubs is a lot for one term, but we are living in extraordinary times with extraordinary challenges. Fortunately, these are extraordinary books that will help us meet those challenges.

The Person You Mean to Be: How Good People Fight Bias, by Dr. Dolly Chugh (Co-sponsored by the Office of Inclusion and Engagement and the Harte Center for Teaching and Learning)

The Person You Mean to Be argues that in order to fight systemic racism and our own implicit biases, we need to be not good, but “good-ish.” Good-ish people are always growing, always examining their own beliefs and practices and ways of thinking. Sign up here to join and then send an e-mail to Dean Tammy Futrell at tfutrell@wlu.edu to receive your free copy of the book.

The Privileged Poor, by Dr. Anthony Jack. (Co-sponsored by the AIM Program, the Johnson Scholars Program, The Office of Inclusion and Engagement, and the Harte Center)

What’s it like to be an economically-challenged student at an elite university? And what steps can universities take to ensure the success of these students? Find out by joining us as we read and discuss Dr. Jack’s excellent book. Sign up here and receive a free copy. 


Intentional Tech, by Dr. Derek Bruff (Co-sponsored by Academic Technologies and the Harte Center)

It’s never been more important to be intentional in our use of technology. To join Academic Technologies and the Houston H. Harte Center for Teaching and Learning for this winter book club Click here. All participants will receive a copy of the book, “Intentional Technology” by Derek Bruff, Director of the Vanderbilt University Center for Teaching. It’s a short book, but rich with ideas. Request a copy by emailing hmacdermott@wlu.edu or read an electronic copy here.

5) Comfort Reading, Watching, Listening, and Eating

This list first came out in May, but who’s had time to relax? Until now. Check out this very comprehensive list of things to read, watch, listen, and eat, from New York Public librarian Andrea Lipinski. Particularly recommended? “Uplifting comfort reads for days when you just can’t,” and “What would your pet read?”

6) The On Being poetry collection

I have a complicated relationship with On Being: my best self recognizes its constant relevance in the rat-race world we live in. My less-than-best self (or, let’s be honest: selves) occasionally wants to holler “Get to the point!” when listening. Fortunately, all of me strongly recommends to all of you (and all of your various selves), the On Being poetry project. There’s so much good here. Just so much. If you’re not sure where to start, try “Phase One” by Dilruba Ahmed.

Take care, everyone.