The spring professional development workshop of the ACM-Mellon Post-doctoral Fellowship Program will gather more than two dozen participants – Fellows in the program, professors who serve as their mentors, guest speakers, and facilitators – on April 26-27 in Chicago to discuss teaching and learning, job searches and transitions, and an overview of faculty life at ACM colleges.
The program, funded by a generous grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, is designed to introduce recent Ph.D. recipients to the challenges and rewards of teaching, scholarship, and professional development at a residential, liberal arts college.
ACM-Mellon Post-doctoral Fellows who began their fellowships in fall 2012.
Now in the fourth of its five years, the program is currently supporting 14 fellows at nine ACM colleges in disciplines ranging from environmental ethics to sociology and gender studies to classical archaeology and new media studies.
Participants receive two-year fellowships at ACM colleges that are structured with a half-time teaching load to allow time for the Fellows to develop new courses, and to continue their scholarly research as they begin their teaching careers. Each Fellow is matched with a seasoned faculty member who serves as a mentor, and the ACM organizes three workshops per year to support the Fellows’ professional development.
“I think the biggest benefit of the workshop for the Post-doctoral Fellows is to have a conversation with their peers, both within their own cohort and across cohorts, as well as to hear the broad range of experience that the faculty participants bring,” said David Schodt, ACM Senior Program Officer for Faculty & Staff Development Programs, who will lead the workshop. “For the mentors, the workshop helps remind them of a broader perspective on what they’re doing – this is not just mentoring one person on their own campus, but is part of a larger effort across the ACM.”
The workshop will include an opening dinner on April 26 followed by a full day of interactive sessions on April 27, including:
- Micro teaching sessions – One of the Fellows will give a short “slice” of a class, such as a lecture and/or classroom exercise, and receive feedback from the other Fellows and mentors.
- Mini job talks – Several Fellows will present excerpts from the talks they give – usually focused on an aspect of their research – when they visit campuses for job interviews, with an opportunity for the other workshop participants to give feedback.
- Former Fellows Claire Kovacs (Canisius University) and Anton Daughters (Truman State University) will give a panel presentation about their experience in finding a teaching position and making the transition to their new institutions.
- Break-out discussions will gather each cohort of Fellows and the mentors separately and then reconvene the three groups in a final wrap-up to the workshop.
Chico Zimmerman, Hazel Lillian Amland Grose Professor of Classics at Carleton College, is coordinating the micro teaching and mini job talks, which are planned to provide Fellows with the chance to hone their teaching and presenting styles and strengths and to receive constructive observations and comments.
“We look at the micro teaching exercise as a way to ‘open the classroom door,’ in effect” said Schodt. “It’s intended as a teaching laboratory with multiple goals. One is to provide the Fellows with concrete ideas and strategies, such as ways to engage students with the particular material they are presenting. Beyond that, we want to stimulate a broader discussion of the commitment to teaching and learning that is at the heart of our colleges and liberal arts education.”
In each of its four years, the ACM-Mellon program has supported a new cohort of five to nine two-year fellowships in the arts, humanities, humanistic social sciences disciplines, and interdisciplinary environmental studies areas. In 2013-14, the program’s final academic year, the fourth cohort of fellows will complete their fellowships.
Along with the aim of attracting promising scholar-teachers to careers at liberal arts colleges, the program enables ACM colleges to pursue institutional curricular goals, as the Fellows bring new academic specializations and fresh approaches developed during their recent experiences in graduate school.