FIC Teaching Support Spring 2021

Waller Creek on the UT campus

FIC Director Dr. Molly Hatcher provides an overview of spring programming.

Over the holiday, I caught up on some podcasts in my cue, and I keep thinking about UT Austin alumnus Brené Brown’s interview of Barack Obama on her Dare to Lead podcast.  Their conversation centered on the transformative power of paradox, and how the ability to hold the tension of opposites can help us thoughtfully tackle the big, messy challenges life presents us.

As a central unit on campus that is concerned with instructional challenges both big and small, we have had the privilege of hearing a multitude of stories from the teaching and learning community this year. They have been stories of both exhaustion and innovation, of exasperation and grace. It’s striking how the events of this past 10 months have heightened so many conflicting tensions in our lives.  Our instructional community has worked tirelessly to navigate the push and pull of these opposing feelings and forces in order to meet the moment and help students make the most of this challenging time.

At our annual FIC retreat in early January, we focused on what we want to learn from this moment and hold onto as we keep moving forward during a time of uncertainty.  As we all continue into the unknown together, the FIC aims to do our best to embrace the tension of opposites, look for opportunities in the challenges that lie ahead, continue to build connections across the teaching and learning community while also modeling and showcasing evidence-based strategies that promote academic rigor.

You will see these principles reflected in much of our spring programming, some tried and true events such as the Teaching Preparation Series for graduate student instructors; the Experiential Learning Initiative workshop series (newly integrated into the FIC); the biannual Inclusive Teaching & Learning Symposium, composed in concert with our campus community partners to bring us together to reflect on our continual commitment to inclusivity in higher education; and Online Teaching Days, an event in partnership with the Provost’s Teaching Fellows that enables us to get a glimpse inside of our peers’ classrooms.  One of our new offerings, a workshop on “Embodying (Dis)Comfort” squarely addresses the topic of tension in our classes and explores evidence-based strategies for embracing and embodying discomfort to help us navigate classroom conflict.

Check out some other new programming aimed at offering refreshing approaches and conversation this semester: a 2-day workshop on “digital storytelling”; a “Mindset” book club and learning community around Carol Dweck’s book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success; and the Provost’s Teaching Fellows series “The After Times,” a set of discussions around the future of the post-COVID university. Find details about these opportunities on our spring semester flyer.

As always, we will continue to offer grab-and-go web resources, such as our series of online teaching infographics produced in the fall.  And please join us for several opportunities throughout the semester to learn more about the great work of colleagues across the university that advance a culture of teaching and learning at UT.  Our Graduate Teaching Showcase, FIC Grants Showcase, and new Technology-Enhanced Learning Showcase (Keynote: Maha Bali!) will highlight the strategies and innovations instructors have developed over the year to meet the multi-faceted challenges we have faced.

We hope your 2021 is off to a great start!  We look forward to collaborating with you as we all navigate the challenges ahead of us and continue shaping the culture of teaching innovation and excellence at UT.