Faculty advisory center welcomes new ambassador

by Emily Tanaka / Beacon Correspondent • February 8, 2017

Courtesy of Nejem Raheem
Courtesy of Nejem Raheem

Associate professor Nejem Raheem will join three other faculty members as an ambassador at the Center for Innovation in Teaching and Learning in their campaign to help Emerson professors develop their teaching skills.

The Center for Innovation in Teaching and Learning is an Emerson-based group that offers services to address academic and administrative needs of the faculty, said Carol Parker, assistant vice president for faculty affairs.

Ambassadors conduct workshops on innovative education. At every new faculty orientation, they offer one-on-one consultations with faculty members. Parker said they also organize an open group forum once a month called “Let's Talk Teaching,” and are available to observe classes and offer critiques, if invited by a faculty member.

“We want to break down barriers so people can actually talk about teaching and admit they’re not the best teacher in the world because we are still learning as we go. There is no perfect teacher,” CITL ambassador and affiliated faculty Daniela Kukrechtova said.

CITL began in 2012 as an administrative unit with an emphasis on student learning assessment, Parker said. An administrative director would go to the chair of each department and ask if there was a faculty member who needed to improve their teaching methods, said Kukrechtova.

“[CITL] was seen as a punishment,” Kukrechtova said. “You were sent to the Center for Innovation in Teaching and Learning because you were bad.”

CITL changed in 2014 when Lori Beth Way, former senior adviser for undergraduate education, became the director and decided to let faculty members lead the program, Kukrechtova said.

When CITL became a faculty-led program, Kukrechtova said, it was the ambassadors’ goal to eliminate any fear teachers may have about asking for help. A department head may suggest that a teacher speak to a CITL ambassador, but it’s never a requirement, Parker said.

“Faculty decides themselves whether they want to talk to an ambassador or not,” Parker said “No one compels them to go to an ambassador. This is strictly a faculty relationship.”

Kukrechtova began a two year term in spring 2015, along with Robert Kubacki, affiliated faculty, and Bethany Nelson, senior theatre educator-in-residence. Three faculty members will be chosen to join Raheem as ambassadors for the following semester, Parker said.