Participant PerspectivesTLI

Embracing Transformative Partnerships

Through developing partnerships that cross traditional boundaries of role and responsibility, Bryn Mawr College faculty, staff, and students transform both education and themselves.

Student comments

“I have been involved in TLI in some form or another since my freshman year and my journey with the TLI has been so transformative. I am extremely grateful to have been allowed this opportunity and recognize how much of a privilege it is to be allowed into such a community and form of work that is so meaningful and progressive.”

“I think we really are making a difference in the way education is envisioned and enacted on this campus. We are making teaching and learning more fluid and dynamic, while empowering both professors and students in the process. I think we also bring our own priorities and values into this work, discussing issues of diversity, different learning styles, and topics to consider with our faculty partners, thus having a say in what we learn and how.”

“Through this [TLI] work I have come to feel more connected to Bryn Mawr, my peers and the faculty. My involvement has been a period of great personal growth and prompted self reflection I don’t think I would have been able to do otherwise or on my own.”

Faculty comments

“The TLI seminar was a transformative experience; re-connected me with my love of, and investment in teaching; recharged my understanding of the connections between the classroom, my scholarship, and my work as a member of my college community; reawakened my faith in the potential academic institutions have to be sites of innovative and vital work for all who are part of the community.”

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Gaining New Perspectives

Working as partners, faculty, staff, and students gain access to one another’s educational experiences and perspectives, at once complicating and clarifying their vision of education and each other.

Faculty comments

“I find it really fascinating how much [my student consultant] is able to observe, which I cannot from my vantage point, and I mean this not only figuratively but also literally, as she has a line of sight into the space of the classroom which I do not have from where I stand. Her observations have helped to open up for me the space in the classroom in ways which I have not seen before.”

“I like that [my student consultant’s] presence — her comments, but her presence itself too — not only gives me the benefit of her lighthouse-like observations, but makes me observe from the same kind of remove, even as I am engaged in the everyday work of teaching the class. This split experience of my class as an immediate act and experience, but also a larger narrative that I’m looking down upon, is something I hope to carry into all my teaching.”

Student comments

“This experience has made me increasingly alive to both the professor’s perspective and to my own responsibilities as a student in creating and maintaining a positive and effective learning environment for all members of the class.”

“My involvement [as a student consultant] has allowed me to view the experience of learning when I am not engaged in that role [of learner] myself.  If I don’t understand something that the professor is explaining, I try to figure out why I don’t understand it, as opposed to struggling how to write the course content in my notebook.  This feeling provides a clear space for me to think about how a professor teaches and I learn, as opposed to what is being taught and learned.”

“The biggest change in myself is appreciating what everyone does on campus. Because during my freshman year I think I just kind of went through, I didn’t really make connections.  I mean, I made connections with Bryn Mawr students, but not staff members. And that’s really the biggest change in myself, saying that extra ‘thank you,’ really appreciating what everyone does — housekeepers and every staff member. It’s really a huge change in myself.”

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Deepening Awareness and Engagement

Sustained partnerships and regular reflection inspire in faculty, staff, and students a deeper awareness of and engagement in their own — and others’ — education.

Through working with one another in such intensive partnerships, faculty and students deepen their engagement in their own practice.

They also deepen their commitment to facilitating all student learning:

Faculty comments

“[The student consultant] did a good job of reconnecting me to the students. She was a bridge back to me being an advocate for the students and serving them well. She reminded me of how much I care and made me refocus my attention on helping students as opposed to simply setting up challenges and obstacles that I expect them to meet. At the end of the year I evaluated myself, I really repositioned myself as their advocate because of this program.”

“My dialogue with my student consultant has been an ongoing intercambio [exchange] in which I was able to get a sense of how others experience the class. Because of this dialogue, rather than always privilege what worked for me as a student, I work to draw out how different pedagogical practices [and] learning styles can illuminate the space of a classroom for all those around the table.”

Student comments

“I’m a lot more aware of the dynamics of learning now. I feel a major issue for me now as a student is thinking before I speak and being more considerate of others and their learning styles and expectations of the course and maybe in a way it makes me a bit more patient.”

“Now I am constantly aware of how pedagogy works or fails, and I find myself constantly studying the teachers I admire — perhaps more than I study the material they teach. I think this sense of elevated consciousness alone will shape my thinking far into the future; now that I have been so exposed to this level of awareness, I really don’t think it would be possible for me to enter a classroom WITHOUT thinking about the way class is being taught (as opposed to simply what is being taught).”

“It makes you much more aware of yourself, your presence in the class. You don’t think about yourself and the impact you’ll have just by what you say and how you say it. It’s easy to not say what you want to say for the fear of how it will be perceived. [But] just putting yourself out there might make the difference in the way the class goes and the way people think.”

“My partner from TLI, she was a housekeeper, and she works the night shift, and before this I didn’t actually know that people worked the night shift here cleaning. She cleans Canaday and Dalton, and because she works the night shift, I have to wake up kind of early to do our meetings, but because she is so enthusiastic about it, after working from midnight to 7:00 a.m., and she’s here to work on the computer, and she is all energized, and that gives me the motivation. I am like, if she can do this, all night long, work, and then still have the energy, it’s nothing [for me to get up early]. I taught her a little bit about computer literacy and it was supposed to be the Reading, Writing, Communication, but it turned into more of an ELP, because she learned that I was Haitian and that I don’t speak French, and she speaks Arabic and French, so then it turned more into an ELP, so while I was teaching her English she took it upon herself, and said, Well, if you’re teaching me this word in English I am going to teach you this word in French. And I hate French, I absolutely hate it, that’s what I took Spanish when I came here. And I was like, if you can teach me French and my own mom can’t teach me, that shows a lot about her character. And she showed me a lot about my character, too.”

“I think what working with ELP has done for me, and TLI, being partnered with a staff member, has raised this awareness of me as a student, I am not just walking through campus just as a student who is moving through on her way to Campus Center or Dalton, it’s so much broader.” - student

“Working with the Facilities Department, we got to looking at the plumbing underneath Breacon dormitory, the heating and everything, just knowing how everything works, knowing who is in charge of what, whose hands go where, it was really inspiring and empowering, and it just raised this sense of awareness: I am not the only one here, I am not just moving through, but there is this huge capsule of everyone whose lives are intersecting with mine.”

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Sharing the Responsibility for Learning

Breaking out of separate and mutually exclusive roles, faculty, staff, and students assume responsibility as both learners and teachers.

Faculty comments

“Working with a Student Consultant gave me a sense of students being able and wanting to take certain pedagogical responsibility, and the counter of that is me taking a learning responsibility.”

“I’m constantly trying to think of ways I can put the pedagogical goals I have for my students in their hands.”

“I work with students in a more productive way, with a two-way dialogue which helps us explore different avenues in a train of thought. Instead of only me just telling the students what I think they should know, I mix lecturing with discussion. I try now to be more present to the NOW in the classroom and be open to where it is going than I used to be before, when I focused on just getting the students to know particular things.”

“I work with students more as colleagues, more as people engaged in similar struggles to learn and grow. I have become even more convinced that students are experts in learning and essential partners in the task of creating and developing new courses and refining existing ones.”

“It doesn’t mean that you are giving over control of the course. But there are elements of the classroom that we are co-responsible for, that we are traveling through together.”

Student comments

“I no longer think that professors are responsible for having all the answers and making a class perfect and wonderful to suit my own needs. It is up to the entire community to make learning spaces function, so that means students have just as much responsibility as professors.”

“My role definitely began to break down the boundaries between student and teacher and created in-between roles in which I could recognize my partner and myself as both learners and teachers simultaneously. This perspective has influenced the way I see myself in my other classes, I am more aware of the classroom dynamics and teaching styles in all of the classes I am in now, and I consistently think of ways classes could be improved instead of just accepting them as static.”

“[TLI] is a wonderful opportunity to really get to know a professor well in a different capacity and to develop a different kind of professional relationship but also one that was personal; engaging in work together with them.”

“When you are in a college environment or any environment as a student, you think you are there to get a lot. And this has given me a lot of confidence in that I have a lot of things to give. I can give in terms of teaching others. I can give in terms of giving others ideas about how to teach others. And I don’t think I would have had that if I wasn’t involved in the TLI."

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Participant Voices from Different Programs

Below are some quotes that capture a little of what it's like to participate in a TLI Program, from the staff, student, and faculty perspective.
Check out the voices from ...
1. The Faculty Seminar
2. Student Consultant Partnerships
3. Faculty-Faculty Experiences
4. Staff-Student Partnerships
5. Techno-Pedagogy Experiences
6. Graduate Students

1. Voices from the Faculty Seminar

"Our forum for discussing pedagogy has been a real asset for me this semester and has forced me think more critically about the classroom and my role in it. Hearing about other members’ experiences also has helped me feel part of a larger group and has given me a wide a range of strategies and ideas." (New Faculty Member, Haverford College)

"The seminar has provided a vehicle for self-reflection and learning on the kind of pedagogy that works for me and my students. However, I feel I’ve gained the most from working with peers who also desire to talk about teaching, and feel their role as teacher is an integral part of their identity. While I didn’t expect this latter part, I’ve been very pleased with the peer-exchange in our group." (New Faculty Member, Bryn Mawr College)

"The seminar has been more than I expected. It has provided me with a valuable opportunity both to reflect on my own experiences and share ideas with my colleagues. Writing weekly memos has been particularly helpful for self-reflection, and so has integrating memos into our discussions." (Fourth-year Faculty Member, Bryn Mawr College)

"The most telling moment for me has been the discovery that although I’d been thinking my pedagogy was discussion-based … and open-ended, in fact I went into most of my classes with an agenda — my agenda — for the entire class, so I was always more in control than I ever let the students be. So this has been an important discovery and has led to crucial adjustments in my pedagogy…. I find my role as facilitator of discussion is far more engaging and effective than my role as opening lecturer, followed by questioner and leader of discussion. I thought I was facilitating discussion effectively in my previous approach to teaching. Now I feel I’m doing it far more honestly and effectively." (Experienced Faculty Member, Haverford College)

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2. Voices from Student Consulting Partnerships

Faculty Perspectives

"There is often a disconnect between what I do and what students see. This experience reinforced two things for me: one is that expectations for students have to be made clear and continually reiterated throughout the class; and the other one is to take the student perspective on what I am doing."

"The student successfully identified things that really did need to be improved upon, suggested ways in which they might be improved, and the next time I had a class it was better. Correlation isn’t causation, but it’s evidence. The students take it seriously and they put thought into it and I find it valuable."

"If there were anything happening in the classroom that I might have missed, it would have come out through this experience. I don’t think there is any other mechanism for that. I would always worry. I would always be wondering, “How is this being received by students?” I feel like this was really good, I can be confident that I know how it’s being received by students. I don’t think I could get that confidence by handing out midterm evaluations or having people do them on line."

"I would definitely do it again. I thought it was really great. It wasn’t a big deal. It didn’t take that much time. It took an extra hour and half, and for what I got out of it, unit pricing was quite high. It doesn’t have to be a huge time commitment. A more involved thing would have given me something different, but even the minimal involvement is so worth the small amount of time you need to invest."

Student Perspectives

"Students are gaining respect for their professors because they are doing this. All three faculty members [I worked with] inspired me with their desire to improve as teachers and their ability to step back and “see” themselves and their practice with the assistance of my notes and the students’ interview notes."

"One of the biggest things I learned is that you can never ever please everyone. Methods that I might dismiss as being baby teaching, like group work, are actually really helpful for some students and I shouldn’t dismiss them. And you know, there are other things that I benefit from that are probably stupid to other people."

"It was so cool to be in a collaborative relationship for the time that I was working with the faculty members. You know, we would talk about the teaching as if we were kind of doing it together almost. It was like, we’re going to work together to make a plan for how to make this class better. It happened with all the faculty members I observed. So I think students often want to be in that role, and sometimes it happens in these magical moments with certain faculty members, but to have a structure that supports and encourages that is really exciting."

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3. Voices from Faculty-Faculty Experiences

"[The conversation with my colleague] made sharper for me challenge of balancing providing framework and letting the students talk [in class discussions]. It made much more vivid for me what the difficulties are in achieving that balance." (Faculty member observed by a colleague)

"I realized watching [my colleague] that the students were letting her do all the work [in class discussion]—posing the discussion questions. Then I gave the discussion questions to students [in my class] and had them lead the discussion. It never would have occurred to me if I hadn’t observed [my colleague] working so hard." (Faculty member observed by a colleague)

"As with any human activity you [as the observer] learn as much as the observed faculty member learns from discussing your observations. It is also reassuring to know that we are all in this together, and it makes teaching feel less lonely and lonesome." (Faculty member who observed another faculty member's class)

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4. Voices from Staff-Student Partnerships

“As for me, this is truly the first time at Bryn Mawr that I have felt like a part of the community.”

“Although I already took a liking to the program before I started, I think what really made the experience wonderful was working with my staff partner.”

“I think that one of the great things about the TLI is that all participants play a significant role in owning, revising, and advertising the program.”

“TLI as a program is dedicated not only to building relationships between students and staff but also in providing the Bryn Mawr staff with opportunities.”

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Empowering Learners Partnership Experiences

“I have written about this in practically every reflection, but it never ceases to amaze me how much this partnership has made me feel like a member of a real, multi-dimensional community... The theme of community building in these partnerships is still very important to me, for I am constantly being reminded of how insular this campus really is. I am now quite thankful that I have been given a way to overcome this kind of isolation and to experience real community life once again, something which most of my peers probably won’t experience until they graduate.” – Shelley Nash, BMC ’07

“At first we were both a little nervous working together, grasping for something we had in common, but then we realized that what we have in common is the ability to go through life as both a student and a teacher.”

Computing Class Experiences

“I feel very blessed to have been a part of this program. One of my favorite things (and the reason I want to teach) is sharing a learning experience with someone and growing in knowledge and passion together…Being able to navigate the web and feel comfortable with a computer is something I have always taken for granted; I grew up with it, and therefore I have always felt at ease playing around with a PC. Having to take a step back and break down those skills which I never formally learned, but acquired through years was a real challenge. I love what a supportive community of learners we became; many thanks to all those involved with this wonderful project.” - Maeve O’Hara, BMC ’08

“The position as a mentor in the TLI program has been a hard one but has allowed me to realize and explore myself as a student, teacher, young adult, and as an individual of the Bryn Mawr community.”

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5. Voices from Techno-Pedagogy Experiences

“[What emerged in the workshop was] the recognition that emerged in the minds of different groups about what it is that the others do and what they have to offer each other.” -Librarian

“[O]ne of the things I thought I heard very clearly from both the librarians and from IT people was, ‘We’re teachers, too. And we want to be recognized as teachers, we want our teaching to be understood as teaching.” -Faculty Member

“[Our goal is] an evolved role on our campuses. . . over time, whether it's through our own actions or by changing other people's perceptions of us, that we could have more sophisticated involvement with teaching and learning issues.” -IT Person

“As a student. . . I am usually encouraged to give feedback about what’s working [in a class] and what isn’t and to develop ideas about what would work better, not to participate directly in making changes.” -Student

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6. Graduate Student Voices

"One of the main reasons I chose to attend Bryn Mawr for my Ph.D. in Social Work is because of Dean’s Certificate in Pedagogy. All too often, graduate school programs emphasize high quality research but fail to teach students the tools they need to be effective future educators. Bryn Mawr is unique in that it offers rigorous training in both. Being a high-quality teaching professor is important to me, and Bryn Mawr, unlike any other school I looked at, cultivates the skills needed to be a well-rounded academic and scholar."

"I think that the projects required by the Dean's Certificate (the teaching philosophy and portfolio) will help me to feel more prepared when I begin to teach my own courses because I will have had the opportunity to write a syllabus and plan a course, under the guidance of a faculty member."

"This kind of preparation is sadly lacking at many institutions of higher learning."

"I am more aware of what works and what doesn’t work for me as a student."

"I feel more prepared to handle some of the situations that occur as a teacher (e.g., running discussion groups more efficiently, grading materials in a fair manner). I feel that I am not just being 'thrown out there' into the world of teaching, but rather my skills in teaching are being fostered in meaningful and appropriate ways by those who are experts in the area."

"I appreciate having an avenue to discuss and to think about pedagogy, since I anticipate this being an important part of my future career as a scholar. I strongly believe that teaching and learning are intertwined--that one who teaches is also learning at the same time, and that one who learns might also benefit from teaching or presenting the material to others."

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