Opening up our classrooms to other faculty

Every spring admitted students flood Yale’s campus for Bulldog Days: A three day event where they check out the scene and figure out if Yale is a good fit for them. One of the key components is attending real Yale classes with current Yale students. Scott Strobel, deputy provost for teaching and learning, has always been a little jealous of these incoming students, and one of his first initiatives as deputy provost has been to create Faculty Bulldog Days, a week when faculty open their classrooms up to their colleagues.

Over a hundred faculty have volunteered their classrooms and even more are currently choosing which classes to visit. Given the the wide range of choices, this is surprisingly difficult. I’ve decided to exercise my softer side and attend Cathy Nicholson’s “Shakespeare: Comedies and Romances”. According to the course description, I’ll be learning about “love, sex, gender, society, and theater practice in Shakespeare’s comic genres, from the early farces and romantic comedies to the problem plays and late romances”. At the same time I’ll be learning how Cathy teaches a completely different kind of material than I’m used to.

A lot of folks are going to learn a lot of cool things during Faculty Bulldog Days, but perhaps the most important contribution of the event is that it will start (or restart) dialogs about teaching between faculty across and within disciplines. Faculty talk all the time about their research or current events, but I think we’ll all benefit from talking a bit more about what we do in the classroom.