Jason Lagapa, CTL Professional Development Lead, sits down virtually to talk about designing your syllabi with inclusion in mind with Amy Moreno, Director of Inclusive Culture in the College of Engineering and Applied Science, and Becca Ciancanelli, CTL Inclusive Pedagogy Lead and Chemistry Instructor for SASC, the Student Academic Success Center.
Resources from this conversation:
JASON LAGAPA: This is the Center for Teaching and Learning conversation. I'm Jason Lagapa. I am a professional development lead at the Center for Teaching and Learning. I'm joined today by Amy Moreno, Director of Inclusive Culture in the College of Engineering and Applied Science. I'm also joined by the CTL’s own Becca Ciancanelli, Inclusive Pedagogy Lead and Chemistry instructor for SASC, the Student Academic Success Center. Welcome to you both and thank you for being here.
BECCA CIANCANELLI: Thanks, Jason.
AMY MORENO: Excited to be here.
JASON LAGAPA: So we're talking today about creating an inclusive syllabi and what an inclusive syllabus might look like. And so the question I thought we’d begin with is this one: It is perhaps a commonplace to think of the syllabus as merely a routine document, something that is discussed the first day of class and put away only reviewed by students for deadlines. What is it about a syllabus that makes it an effective tool for inclusive pedagogy practices? Amy, would you like to start?
AMY MORENO: Alright, such a great question to lead off with. And actually I'm going to reference the Center for Urban Education. They actually have an equity a tool to kind of review a syllabus and to kind of begin, they talk about really that purpose that you brought up of the syllabus. So for students it provides expectations, the required components, really, of that course. It clarifies any goals as well as the grading system to assess the learner’s performance. And really sets the classroom’s tone right and motivates learners to set goals that are high yet achievable. And I think that's a really important component to recognize that a syllabus, especially from that student perspective of how important it can really be to communicate equitably and inclusively and really motivate and excite students to really want to learn and engage with one another with the, you know, faculty and instructor in the material, it can be quite inspirational for my perspective. And I think that's key.
JASON LAGAPA: Thank you Amy. Becca, how about you, that same sort of question – what is it about a syllabus that makes it an effective tool for inclusive pedagogy practices?
BECCA CIANCANELLI: I really like this question because I know that a lot of people's frustration is that students don't read their syllabus, there's this moment in the semester where students are asking you questions and they're saying: “Why aren't the students reading the syllabus?” – you know, and it goes back to what you said, right? It's introduced on the first day and then forgotten about. And I, I like the tone that Amy and I have thought about when we're working with people in workshops about it being a living document that could even potentially change throughout the semester and could really live as something that you that you can ground yourself with our comeback to, to refer to the students. But I think students aren't going to go back and want to look at it and engage with it if it feels if the tone of the syllabus feels punitive or if it feels exclusionary, so we've really worked with people to think about how can the syllabus feel like an invitation into your class and an invitation into different settings and how can students feel like their voice is on the syllabus. Are there ways in which students can be included? So it feels like an engaged conversation and communal agreement as opposed to the more traditional view of it as a contract that we use to penalize students when they don't engage in the way we want.
AMY MORENO: Oh, Becca! I really love you know that living document [idea] and collaboration, and I do love within this workshop that we've designed, you know, we'll spend a little bit of time really connecting folks to strong definitions of diversity, equity, and inclusion, and then we really want to get folks in that mindset as they're designing that syllabus to really consider: How does your syllabus communicate that you honor diversity and are committed to creating an inclusive and equitable classroom? And so I really loved your description, Becca, around that and just want to kind of give that example that's how we really get going, you know, and get folks started in that mindset. So thank you!
JASON LAGAPA: Part of our conversation today is stemming from the workshops that you both referenced that you've done on inclusive syllabi in the past, and one of the questions that I wanted to ask was, what did you learn from leading those workshops? What was surprising about them? Amy, I’ll ask you to start off first.
AMY MORENO: Oh, sure. Absolutely. You know, I think I really was surprised at how much folks really wanted the breakout room experience of talking with each other and really thinking about applying, you know, and even their mindset in a lot of ways. So I loved that we really designed it as experiential and we just keep refining that, you know, to leverage that time when different faculty instructors come together from across campus to really start thinking about this approach, you know, their mindset, the knowledge that you know that they already have around equitable and inclusive pedagogy and you know the classroom environment and practices and so that was really fantastic, I think. And, you know, something I think I learned or just I think helped me connect the dots on how to approach this as I'm engaging with folks: a lot of folks are interested in really getting that syllabus diversity and inclusion equity statement, really wanting to practice focus on it and really looking to even models and examples, and I think the shift that we're really, you know, encouraging is how rewarding and developmental and also authentic it is for you to go through that process of really developing and writing your own, right? [And] not necessarily just utilizing one that may be a standard or if you do a Google search, there's a lot out there, but really, how is it conveying your authenticity, you know, and your own values and how you're connecting that with diversity and inclusion.
JASON LAGAPA: Becca, anything surprising that came out of the workshops for you?
BECCA CIANCANELLI: Yeah, I'm going to add on to what Amy said I felt a little surprised by how nervous people were to show us, you know – one of the activities that we did in the breakout rooms was giving them language from a syllabus and asking them to rewrite it. We gave them a statement on “don't use cell phones in class!” and one that felt particularly punitive and [we suggested]: is there a way for you to take this statement or rewrite it as an invitation or rewrite it with some context about why you don't want students using cell phones in class or what's a productive way to use your cell phone in class. And there's some nervousness around that rewriting, and but I think there was an engagement. After the workshop. Some people sent us their syllabus sample, [and said]: Will you look at this? Will you give me some coaching on this language and that was also surprising. So, it was really nice to see people dig in, and I think they did come wanting us to give them a statement, you know, let's all agree on this one statement. We’ll all put it in our syllabus and so we had a feedback on the survey [after the workshop] saying, “I did come hoping you just give me a statement, but I'm actually really understanding now why I have to write it and why it has to be me and why my whole syllabus has to be in that tone, not just that one statement.” So, I feel like we did cause a little bit of a culture shift that we were happy about.
JASON LAGAPA: You know the culture shift is so important, where – there's fear, I think, that surrounds issues of engaging with diversity because people might feel like they're not an expert in it. They might feel like they don't have a background in it. But what I'm hearing from both of you is that you've set up the workshops and your approach to writing an inclusive syllabus is to have it be somewhat of a collaborative process and then also that it needs to be individualized for each instructor to make it more of an authentic – something that sort of seems grounded in their own teaching and then their own sensibility about diversity, equity, and inclusion. You both have talked to in your answers previously about the idea of tone and that struck me as being something that's really important. Some people might think of a written document as not having a voice that it is an inert piece of paper, that cannot express, that cannot have a tone. So, what does that mean in this practice of writing an inclusive syllabus? How does that come across on the page and how do you cultivate that? Amy, do you want to get started?
AMY MORENO: Sure, you know, and I love this question because I'm thinking of power dynamics; I'm also thinking of culturally direct communicators, where the actual word choice does matter and recognizing even how you might want to intend to communicate an idea throughout your syllabus, recognizing and acknowledging there's no script. This is modeling clay, right? So again, this is very much coming back to reviewing, getting feedback, you know, and refining ongoing that's an ongoing practice and recognize that each of your students are also likely interpreting what your statements are in very different ways because they have different experiences, you know, in different cultures and backgrounds and familiarity, even with the environment or the topic or subject area, and we mentioned and talk about how are we really pursuing equity, even through thinking of a first-generation-college-student lens right and really acknowledging that power dynamic from an instructor or faculty, you're creating your culture. I mean, if you think about that, and that's something we talked about that your syllabus is the overview of this culture that you're inviting students to be a part of. And I purposely use the word inviting and I think Becca does such a great job of really helping folks shift, you know that tone components beyond just directives, “I'm going to lean into my power and tell you exactly the rules of this culture, this game.” This experience that I'm creating you know, and you also have to recognize you can't just lean on your power for learning. Right? And so we need to really understand and recognize how the syllabus, our tone – how is that promoting and enhancing the learning that's happening within your culture that you're creating?
JASON LAGAPA: Becca, can you speak the idea of tone as well. Please.
BECCA CIANCANELLI: Yes, I, I love this idea that Amy's bringing in of power dynamics and also thinking about, I think the challenge people have is this balance of especially during the Pandemic of being flexible, you know, we know that being inclusive is having flexibility and understanding that some students are working, some students are caring for their family, some students can't meet your deadlines in the same way as others, but also maintaining high expectations. Part of being inclusive is really setting high expectations and believing your students can meet them. So how in your syllabus, do you balance those two? And a term that I learned working at the Student Academic Success Center from a good friend of mine, Shane Oshetski, was this idea of being a warm demander, so really making sure that you're holding high expectations for your students, but within a warm relationship and really demonstrating to them that you will hold those expectations and you will you will really create a relationship that helps them get there. So that really infuses both the flexibility with the high expectations and it really helps also do that dance between we know at some level that syllabus does have to be a contract, we're not – we're not saying that that's not a reality in this world that there are going to be times that students are going to report something about you, and your syllabus is what you're going to fall back on to say, “Yes, I had these structures in place,” but within the – having the tone set that I'm here for you as well is something that I – this is why the process of writing and rewriting your syllabus is important and one of the reasons we thought about doing this podcast instead of a workshop is so that people could find ways outside of that one hour workshop to keep engaging and thinking more about this, and I want to just offer Amy and Jason and I all as resources for you if you want to test out your syllabus language on someone. We're here to help work through that with you and those CUE.... We're going to give you those resources of those CUE documents because those checklists, instead of looking for a statement if you work through these checklists that say, “is this in your syllabus? Have you thought about this?.” That's a really powerful way to do that writing and rewriting so that you can infuse both the flexibility and the high expectations.
JASON LAGAPA: Becca, I'm going to ask you to speak to something that Amy brought up and one of the phrases that she used, which is to “honor diversity.” If you hear a phrase like “honoring diversity” and as a sort of practice and putting that into a syllabus. What does that mean to you to honor diversity? What would that look like either on a piece of paper, on a syllabus, that is, as you're both talking about a living document but also something that you can sort of cultivate in the classroom, but what does it mean to honor diversity?
BECCA CIANCANELLI: Hmm. That's really powerful, Jason! I believe in honoring the student voice. I think that it's hard for me to know especially from my position as a person who has had a lot of privilege in my educational experience that there are a lot of things I don't know about. So, honoring that is by allowing that voice to be present and figuring out ways to elevate that voice and allows to us have agency. So, I want to share something that I tried one semester when I was teaching a general chemistry course which was to ask students on an ungraded survey through canvas in the first week of the semester to – the question was, “the professor’s instructional assistants would like to help you increase your competence and being successful in this class. What can we do, if anything [to help with this]?” And then we took all of the responses and put them back on our syllabus so that students could see that we were hearing them, and hearing their ideas about what that would look like. And it's interesting that I think the fear was that students would say, “Give us less work to do” – “Make it easier for us to get things done.” And instead, they said things like, “Be transparent about class policies and expectations. Be accessible and help us learn during and after class times. Make real world connections to the chemistry we are learning. Be patient and supportive when being asked for help with a difficult problem.” And even some of their responses illustrated that they wanted those high expectations in place, you know, they want it. They said, “push us to learn and succeed and bring positive energy.” So, that sort of listening to what their ideas were and then infusing that back into my teaching style made me feel like I was honoring diverse perspectives and also maybe different – I think Amy said this earlier, different ways of communicating and learning and understanding that would illustrate that I'm that I'm committed to intercultural competence, maybe I'm not there yet, but I'm committed to grow and I'm showing that to my students if I'm asking them for their input and how to make the class be more accessible.
JASON LAGAPA: Yeah, that's really interesting for me because the idea of having a syllabus be multi-voiced, having the student voice represented is really a dynamic idea and reminds me of what you described as being the tone of having a sort of plural or multiple sensibility, where one can be warm and demanding and it seemed as if what you're saying, Becca, is that the students have that same sort of idea as well, that they wanted expectations to be held high. But they also wanted to be welcomed, and so in hearing you talk about honoring diversity, I heard a great deal about welcoming students into the classroom as you both said a couple of times, the idea of being inviting and I think maybe there is a fear that if one is too warm, too inviting that it means that rules get tossed out the window, but I don't think that's the case, as you both have talked about that. Instead, it actually encourages more responsibility; it actually encourages more structure and especially your students as you said, Becca, have a say in it.
Amy, I know that you're the one who sort of said that term of “honoring diversity” and I wanted to hear how you would put a gloss on that. What does that phrase mean to you exactly?
AMY MORENO: There is so much to unpack with honoring diversity and I think folks, knowing that that's an ongoing practice, first and foremost, it's not going to be a formula. You know, so I'm not going to tell you a, b, and c is going to get you to d., right? And there are really important aspects of what it means to honor diversity, from my perspective, and part of that is understanding one’s own as an instructor and faculty member, being able to recognize when your culture, your diversity [and] what you're bringing is really shining through in your syllabus and your curriculum. You likely have experiences and preferences, and again, like I'm saying you're building this culture that will likely reflect yourself. And it's really important that we need to have that honor and understand that component because we need to anticipate and expect differences. We need to know that there is diversity of your students coming to your class their experiences, their knowledge, their opportunities. Everything is very different for students. And I think sometimes folks really try to do a one size fits all approach and kind of have a singular ideal of what a student may be or you know what a student may need to do or how they may need to do their work. And that's not honoring diversity, like, just to give you that kind of, you know, antithesis, you know, in that component that's really a singular ideal, right? Homogenizing and a lot of ways. And so another component that I think is really important around honoring diversity, especially in the academic and educational environment, is really understanding the socio-historical discrimination, especially in various communities, cultures, right, and especially right now. It's really prevalent and what we've been really discussing even within our college and beyond. You know this year is really around discrimination of Black and Latino, Indigenous, you know, students, staff, faculty, really an unjust exclusion from educational opportunities and that still continues to occur throughout the educational experience and the benefits of that full disclosure of the terms of success, you know, have a really how to navigate this culture that you're creating as an instructor. It's honoring that, you know, students are diverse, they are different than yourself. And honoring what others may, you know, and I'll [use] quotes, you know, “quote unquote,” non-traditional college students. We need to be anticipating and expecting and honoring that diversity does exist. And how can we then do the dance with diversity, you know, which I always love getting into inclusion and equity. It really is the celebration, enabling all of that diversity to come together. You know, engage collaborate really show up and thrive and a lot of ways. And so, thank you for that great question! I think it's going to be an ongoing practice and I'd encourage each individual listening to spend some time reflecting and try to think about: “how am I demonstrating and my actions behaviors through my syllabus that I do honor diversity?”
JASON LAGAPA: Great, thank you Amy. I’ll have you answer this next question because you almost anticipated it. We can often think about what developing an inclusive syllabus might mean for students. How might it also impact faculty members? What do they have to gain from revising the way they write syllabi?
AMY MORENO: It speaks to a lifelong learner mindset you know and actually equity mindedness and a lot of ways. So even approaching your syllabus as kind of this ongoing flexible opportunity to really develop right and even as we think of Maya Angelou, “when you nnow better do better,” right? And I think that's what's really important as we continue to grow and develop and, you know, oftentimes from the instructor’s or faculty member’s perspective. The syllabus is us to really welcome, you know, the students into the class and bring them as in as a part of that community and culture. And it's also a planning tool, so it helps instructors and faculty really organize the work. The students are going to be completing the learning that's going to be happening. And so even getting, you know, into your curriculum and really thinking about: what are your learning objectives and how are you assessing things? I think it can make you a much better educator when this is an ongoing active process, you know, and ultimately it will help faculty and instructors meet the course goals you know that they're really setting out to achieve, utilizing this tool and resource. So, you know, oftentimes, you know, Becca mentioned that kind of contract, you know, component or element. Even moving away from that that you know we're collectively creating this culture and environment together. Can we get to that shift, right? And so that's been able to navigate and do that dance with your power dynamics as an instructor because something I always think about, especially as I'm teaching and, you know, doing various facilitations. We are mutually learning so can the instructor even take that approach that in this experience. I'm also learning from students, too, we’re partners in this. And I think that's a really important shift that I would definitely encourage.
JASON LAGAPA: It’s an attitude, actually, that one's cultivating not only just for students but for oneself. It allows one to think through the material, maybe anew, to think about what has been excluded in the past historically. Amy, you wonderfully articulated past inequities when it came to education and so rewriting the syllabus as a way to think about that history, changing it up and then maybe, and hopefully, making something a bit more inclusive progressive and then also, as we've been saying welcoming.
Becca, how do you think a faculty member by grow or what would they gain from writing an inclusive syllabus?
BECCA CIANCANELLI: Yeah, I really appreciate this question, Jason, because I think it's really important for us to think about growing as educators in this way and I just to build on what you were both just saying, I think there's this tendency to grab your syllabus from last year and the year before, or one that may be somebody past you and reuse it. And especially if you're new, right, especially if this is the first time you're teaching or you've just been hired by this department, and not that that isn't something to lean on, but I think what you're illustrating is that's not being responsive to who's in the room, right? You're not really understanding or thinking about who's in the room, and I love hearing about – I've heard stories of faculty members really even investigating the socio economic culture of where their university is located to them be responsive to that in their syllabus. And you know, back to something Amy said earlier about thinking about people who've been traditionally excluded from education, those people are listening carefully. They're listening carefully to your tone. They’re reading carefully what you're saying. You're saying on your syllabus, and they're looking for entry points, right. So I think if you're showing them that you're aware of what's happening locally around you or what's happening in the moment that they feel included by that, you know, even if it's in a very large classroom. If you don't have a one on one relationship with them. They're looking for those moments of relationship.
And the other thing I wanted to share was just a really concrete story from this semester, I had a consultation with a faculty member who was having a struggle with a student who was posting something on a discussion board that was exclusionary of other students, and this person had thought really carefully through rules of engagement for the course and in the consultation, we went back to that statement that have been written on the syllabus and, it became a great conversation piece between the faculty member and the student: “Hey, remember this, remember these rules of engagement that we agreed to?” And I think it's supported that faculty member to really have set that [up] and be able to go back to that and engage with the student in that way about what was happening in the classroom. So, I think it is supportive to the faculty member to really think through this syllabus and feel that they can lean on it too, right? That it is something you can lean on and you can come back to with students when there's a moment of disconnect or a moment where students not being aware of who else is in the room and how their actions are impacting other students. It can be a really supportive document.
AMY MORENO: Yeah I you know I think I would be remiss. If I did not mention the designing and experience of creating your syllabus is a great place to – if you've not already engaged with universal design principles and especially around accessibility because really that lens and that focus area will open up that inclusion and equity to a lot of students. I mean, it will widen you know the engagement that can really happen. And so, I think that's something that I've just noticed that I always want to keep just reminding folks and recommending [about] even the document itself. “Is it accessible, would a screen reader be able to navigate that document well?” And you know, so maybe that's piquing things for folks that are listening right now to think about it. And so, make sure that we're consulting and connecting with our folks on campus around universal design, even in that component. So, thank you.
BECCA CIANCANELLI: Great point!
JASON LAGAPA: Becca, there's one phrase that you uttered that I wanted to pick up on. Maybe another way of answering that question of what it means to honor diversity: [it might] just to be responsive and have it be a dialogue or a conversation, rather than some sort of one-way speech or a unilateral sort of dictation of classroom dynamics and expectations, and so I really love that idea of being responsive. The other phrase that you use that I wanted to pick up and I think this goes along with what Amy was bringing up with a universal design, the phrase was “entry points” and [I wondered] what that might mean if you're being responsive to your students. Becca, you mentioned that students are also listening to you and hearing the type of messages that you're sending out and so what I'd like to do is maybe just talk about some practical ways of providing entry points, using a syllabus as a document. What is it that gets conveyed in a practical matter on a syllabus that would provide that entry point?
And Amy, you might have spoken to this already by sort of talking about accessibility with the document itself and universal design, [and] how we can think through changing the way that we disseminate materials to make sure that they are accessible to all students all learners. So what does it mean to have an entry point on the syllabus, perhaps, and what are you seeing as the ways in which the document itself cultivates openness and that invitation?
BECCA CIANCANELLI: I have a couple of ideas, in terms of really using the syllabus. One is really – I've been a couple of these have been shared with me. But there are a couple departments in the School of Education is the one that I'm remembering: [they] have written welcome letters to their students so they very specifically call out that they're welcoming all these identities in the room. And so I think there is something in your syllabus, where you can really illustrate that you're aware of, of who might be in the room and you welcome them and you welcome their participation. Another way that I think you bring students in is to have language on your syllabus that talks about collaboration. So really saying something about, you know, “utilize both [the instructor and your classmates as peers]; use me, use your peers.” You know what other resources, can you offer them? And really talk about “this is a collaborative process. I don't want you to succeed in isolation. I want you to succeed in community.” And so really using that language on your syllabus will signal to students, especially students that come from very communal cultures that that that that's a value that you have that you're not just looking at them as different individuals in your classroom, but you're trying to see a collective learning process happen. And that will also help to combat some of the competitive weed-out environments that might inadvertently because of the culture that is expected in your discipline.
And the last thing that I wanted to illustrate was just really using your syllabus as a way to signal your accessibility. So how can you tell students the best way to engage with you? And then maybe even in a survey in the class, you know, I just really believe in surveying students and getting ideas for them or communicating with them. But if you can say to them, “this is the best way to reach me. This is how I'm most responsive. This is the – this is these are great ways to make sure that I see that you need something.” And then, “what's the best way for me to communicate with you? What are the – what do you need to tell me about your issues and what's going on for you and where you might not be able to participate in different ways in the course because of things going on your life?”. So, sort of giving that exchange, I think, is signaling that the communication lines are open. And I think that's important.
JASON LAGAPA: So, as we mentioned, there'll be some of the resources from the workshops [that] we’ll make accessible on our website [so] that people can get sort of practical ideas of what they, how to change their syllabus. And we've been talking a lot about the philosophy behind what those changes could entail. Amy, I was going to ask you just maybe in anticipation of looking at those resources, what's another practical element that a faculty member can put on their syllabus that would make it more responsive, more inclusive? How do you see that unfolding?
AMY MORENO: Oh, I love that. And I'm going to channel a first generation lens here so I myself am first generation undergraduate, graduate, professional, you know, Etc. And you know, I think it's also really important to infuse and this is what I talked about in the workshop is structure and transparency. So, even if you are, and I loved you know back this intro and really talking about, “this is the best way to communicate with me and connect.” And perhaps that [it] is office hours, and I would actually recommend again think[ing] of transparency and structure. You may want to list – why would a student come to your office hours, right? What are you there to connect and talk through? Is it specific problems, you know, the practice problems that you're working on? Can you come with your group, you know, or multiple students come and join in and have that conversation? And so, I think that's a really important practical approach, is really thinking from that perspective. Again, I'm creating this culture right?...this whole experiment. So how can I let the users know, our students, those that there we’re designing for. How can we let them know, “hey, how can you best utilize these different aspects of the course and your resource and connection?”
And I think things else that's really important too is: how are you bringing your authenticity and letting your students know about you? You know, your experiences, your journey [and] how you approach the field and materials and a lot of that sense. So, thinking about personalizing your syllabus and what vulnerability and what might you want to convey about the students so they can better understand where you might be coming from, and who you are, right? And can connect with you and various ways because people can connect so they build the capacity that knowledge and skills to bridge really cross commonality and that's really important to really be able to find those connections that you know you are another professional in this field that I'm pursuing as the instructor and faculty member that I can make those connections, especially if it's not initially obvious in a lot of ways, right, and especially when we talked about representation amongst faculty are a whole host of diversity. Again, how are you communicating your diversity, your background, your experience, your culture to your students as well?
BECCA CIANCANELLI: I just, I just love that Amy brought up how to use office hours. Yay! It's like an extra topic in our podcast, and I just had to jump in and say that I think so many students have – don't understand the culture of office hours that they can go to office hours to ask you questions about your career, to ask questions about their career, to ask about how to write a recommendation or get recommendation letters. So, I love this idea of for grounding that in your syllabus and maybe don't even call it office hours, like, is there another term? I know Steve Pollock once shared that once he shifted the title to “homework help” he so many more students came because they knew exactly what might be happening there as opposed to, “I don't know what office hours are. Maybe I have to come and look really smart, and I have to really understand things; I have to ask a really good question.” And then all the time we hear from faculty. They want students to come in the office hours are empty. So, I love this idea: how can you reframe it and invite them and motivate them to get there? So, I just wanted to jump in on that.
JASON LAGAPA: No, I'm glad you did, Becca, and in my own classes I emphasize office hours, and I make it a practice to announce them each week and then ask people to come by. And I think that same sense of invitation that we were talking about on an inclusive syllabus can happen in the classroom as well. Just sort of restating this idea: “I want to be available to you. I want to hear what your interests are. I want to hear what your ideas are.” And it can be just a great forum for students to talk about the class and then also tell us a little bit more about their ways of being as students.
So, I have a couple of more questions as we're sort of getting towards the end of our time. Should we think of writing the syllabus as a creative act?
AMY MORENO: Absolutely. Oh, my goodness! This is creativity for me. I actually think of –
BECCA CIANCANELLI: I just saw Amy get excited, I must say!
AMY MORENO: I like yes! It is creativity. It absolutely is. You know, and I think, you know, allowing folks to explore that – now, culturally, some folks said you know more of the uncertainty avoidance that you know really like having the structure, having a planned out, this is a little bit, you know, kind of pushing, a gentle nudge to try to even expand a little bit, right? What can be flexible and malleable throughout the semester within your syllabus? Are there even places where you might want to try that on, right? This whole conversation that we've been having. Where can you do that? So absolutely. This is a creative ongoing practice and work of art, and I oftentimes think about that and I think that's been something that's been really great. You know, for my background because I'm classically trained as a scientist, but also a cultural anthropologist and so really bringing those together – I see science as art and art and science in a lot of ways. And I think the syllabus is just such a really great tool and resource to really bring a lot of that together so great ending question, Jason! Thank you!
BECCA CIANCANELLI: I just want to add that we're going to share an article with you that really impacted me recently about somebody sort of looking at – they were using the university's language on accommodations in their syllabus and started to read it really carefully, and for them, it felt that it put up barriers to students communicating about accommodations. And so they share in the article how they took that language and rewrote it so that, again, it was more of an invitation for the students to share needs that they had. And so it really just brings in that – I think we had this question in a workshop to – “do I have to use certain language in my syllabus? Are they again back to the contract? Right? The legality and it's probably worth checking with your department if you, if you feel that there's their department agreements about something being in the syllabus. But in general, I think, it's your…it's your creation and the more creative, you are with it, the more your personality is going to show through. And the more students are going to want to then mirror that, right? And then show you who they are.
JASON LAGAPA: So, this has been a wonderful discussion. Amy Moreno. Becca Ciancanelli. Thank you so much!
BECCA CIANCANELLI: Thank you, Jason! I'm so grateful for both of you, awesome colleagues!
AMY MORENO: You know, I echo that! And everybody be well, take good care.