“The classroom should be a space where we’re all in power in different ways…” (hooks, Teaching to Transgress, 152)
Communication is essential to teaching and learning in the classroom; yet, we rarely investigate it as a set of intentional practices. When the classroom is fully conceived as a social, relational, and political space, we can see that communication exists across multiple registers, both verbal and non-verbal. Indeed, talking and listening are not neutral acts: the classroom has potential as a site of validation and empowerment. Inspired by bell hook’s sense of praxis as “action and reflection upon the world to change it,” we want to make space to examine the potential applications of communication theory and scholarship on our own approaches to and practices in the classroom (Teaching to Transgress, 14).
The Teaching and Learning Center invites Graduate Center student instructors to participate in our Open Focused Inquiry Series (OFIS) on Classroom Communication as Praxis: Talking, Questioning, Listening, Responding. During March 2019, this 4-week program will use the scholarship of teaching and learning and our own experiences as graduate student instructors to explore the theory and practice of dynamic, intentional classroom communication. Turning to theorists such as bell hooks, Julie McLeod, John Zhang Hua, Thich Nhat Hanh, and Jean-Luc Nancy, among others, we will interrogate a set of ideas about communication in the classroom and consider in what ways our own communication practices can and do (or do not) encourage each student to embrace their own power as learners, interrogators, and producers of knowledge. We will begin with an exploration of talking and listening as multisensory experiences, and will investigate the classroom as a space and community where vulnerability, taking risks, and participating are crucial components of teaching.
OFIS Structure and Options for Participation
The first three weeks of the OFIS will take the form of guided exploration with the additional goal of collaboratively planning a workshop highlighting our group’s discoveries, to take place during the fourth week.
- Meetings will take place Tuesday, March 5, 12, 19, 26; 3-5pm
- Month-Long Inquiry: Students commit to participating in each of the four OFIS sessions throughout the month of March, and to leading a portion of the March 26 workshop. Compensation of $250 will be available to those who participate in full. Application required. (See below).
- Drop-In Inquiry: Participants may choose to attend some or all of the sessions. Those who attend at least two are invited to participate in leading a portion of the March 26 workshop. No application is necessary.
To Apply as a Month-Long Inquiry Participant
In the medium of your choice–writing, drawing, composing, mapping–describe or depict communication at its best in your classroom. Participants will be selected based on demonstrated engagement with the question of classroom communication as praxis; that is, how it relates to both your classroom experience and to the scholarship of teaching and learning. Submit your response plus a one-paragraph bio to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line: Classroom Communication as Praxis by February 26th. Participants will be notified no later than March 1st.