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Introduction

The primary audience for the Teach@CUNY Handbook is Graduate Center students preparing for their first semesters as college professors in CUNY’s classrooms. The handbook has been built in dialogue with students at the Graduate Center who have sought guidance and assistance from the Teaching and Learning Center (TLC) in the two years since we opened. Hundreds of GC students have visited our office hours, attended our workshops and other events, emailed us for support, and pulled us aside in the hallway to share suggestions for how we might support their teaching. The TLC team logs these conversations, and has used them to shape both our programming and this first iteration of the Teach@CUNY Handbook.

Teaching across CUNY’s classrooms has been a transformative and invigorating experience for thousands of Graduate Center students, and our goal at the TLC is to help current and future GC students successfully navigate their teaching at CUNY. Teaching is challenging for even the most seasoned, committed instructors. Every group of students presents a new mix of personalities, preparedness, and needs. Every semester renews the challenge of translating our scholarship for undergraduates, and making our work and classes accessible. And in every year evolving political and social realities create contexts that impact the lives of both faculty and students, especially those from the diverse and underrepresented communities that make up the majority of the undergraduate population at CUNY.

It is these students that make CUNY’s classrooms unique and vibrant spaces, and whose time, labor, and attention should be met by their instructors with a profound sense of duty and responsibility. To Graduate Center students: teaching at CUNY can enrich and propel both your scholarship and your career prospects, while giving you a powerful way to have a lasting impact on the people of the city. You will also learn a lot.    

Know that you are not alone in meeting this challenge. The TLC is always available to support you, but there are also dozens of other spaces throughout CUNY that value and create opportunities for the exploration of pedagogy. CUNY’s campuses have generous and available teaching centers, vibrant writing programs, resourceful and helpful librarians, engaged department-based organizations, and committed faculty and staff who share the belief that pedagogy is best conceived of as a collaborative, communal pursuit.    

What follows offers some practical guidance for students across the disciplines who are just beginning to conceive of themselves as college teachers. It will walk you through course and syllabus preparation, assignment design and assessment, and offer some suggestions for navigating CUNY borne from our collective experiences in the system.

This handbook is not intended to be exhaustive or conclusive, but rather to provide a snapshot of some of our thinking and work at TLC. It will evolve in dialogue with the CUNY community, and the TLC will prepare a second version for distribution in 2018. 

The Staff of the Graduate Center Teaching and Learning Center

May 8, 2017

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