The primary audience for this 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 hundreds of students at the Graduate Center who have sought guidance and assistance from the Teaching and Learning Center (TLC) since we opened in 2015. The TLC team has used these conversations to shape both our programming and this resource.
Teaching across CUNY’s classrooms has been a transformative and invigorating experience for thousands of Graduate Center students over the past generation, and our goal at the TLC is to help current and future GC students successfully navigate this work. Teaching is challenging for even the most seasoned, committed instructors. Every class presents a new mix of personalities, levels of preparedness, and needs. Every semester renews the challenge of translating our scholarship for undergraduates and making our work and classes accessible to all of our students. And in every year evolving political and social realities create contexts that impact the lives of both faculty and students, particularly 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 TLC’s belief that pedagogy is best conceived of as a collaborative, communal pursuit.
In the pages that follow we offer practical guidance for students across the disciplines who are just beginning to conceive of themselves as college teachers. These resources will walk you through course and syllabus preparation, assignment design and assessment, and offer suggestions for navigating CUNY informed by the TLC staff’s 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 is also designed to evolve in dialogue with the CUNY community, and the TLC will continue to update and refine this handbook. Please share your thoughts and feedback on the annotatable version of this text at http://cuny.is/tcuny-handbook.
The Staff of the Graduate Center Teaching and Learning Center