“I love and live off of the ‘aha’ moments students have in class when they suddenly understand or build a new understanding of a concept. That has always been what excites me about teaching, whether it’s in a math class or a seminar course.”
In addition to the value she places on new ideas that come into being for individual students, Dr. Grace Pai sees “a career in education as a means of alleviating poverty and bringing about social mobility and equality.“ She does not mince words about “a lack of equity that too often leads to social stratification” and the scope of this crisis: “I’ve always found it astonishing that in a ‘developed’ knowledge economy like the United States’ that stresses the importance of obtaining a college degree, we still have about 15% of students who don’t even graduate from high school.” Experienced as a counselor and math teacher in NYC public schools and holding a Ph.D. in international education and development with a specialization in applied statistics for program and impact evaluation, Dr. Pai is a powerful emerging voice in the critical areas of global learning, culturally relevant pedagogy (CRP), as well as diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) as they relate to race in America. During just the last turbulent year, beset by the global pandemic, the Assistant Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies has presented or spoken at over a dozen events on CRP, Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL), and racial justice.
Dr. Gholdy Muhammad Leads Workshop on Historically Responsive and Culturally Relevant Pedagogy during Guttman’s Assessment Days
As the featured guest during Guttman’s Fall II Assessment Days, author of Cultivating Genius: An Equity Framework for Culturally and Historically Responsive Literacy and faculty at Georgia State University Dr. Gholdy Muhammad led an interactive workshop virtually for our instructional staff. Having presented the HILL Pedagogy – Histories, Identities, Literacies, Liberation – to the entire Guttman community in a previous virtual event, Dr. Muhammad’s session delved deeper into her framework’s overarching goals of Academic Success, Cultural Competence, and Sociopolitical Consciousness, which encompass the skill-building that students obtain and practice in class; their personal and social identities and backgrounds, in conversation with those of others; and the knowledge they gain from lived experiences outside of the classroom. In the workshop, Guttman faculty participated in revising an existing or new assignment according to the more granular criteria Dr. Mohammad has elaborated: advancing Identity, Skills, Intellect, Criticality, and Joy. The activity was designed for faculty to intentionally reflect on their higher-stakes written course assignments and directly incorporate effective, equitable, and affirming premises. This effort demonstrates and furthers the work of First-Year Experience (FYE) and English faculty to “decolonize” the curriculum, under the leadership of Assistant Professor of English and Area Coordinator for Writing Dr. Meghan Gilbert-Hickey and FYE Program Coordinator and Professor of English Dr. Dan Collins. The College’s institutional investment in student-centered, culturally relevant and responsive pedagogy, and best practices focused on equity is well-documented within the digital Center for Practice, Technology, and Innovation (CPTI).
Faculty Feature: Dr. Karla Fuller, Associate Professor of Biology and Program Coordinator of Science
“More than anything, I want our students to know that they can succeed in science and math. They don’t have to pursue it, but I don’t want them to think that it’s not for them for any particular reason, except [if they don’t choose it.] If they want to, they can be good at it, or they can be interested in it… I just want them to feel like they belong. That it’s for them, if they want it.”
Dr. Karla Fuller, Associate Professor of Biology and Program Coordinator of Science, bears the unique distinction of being the very first faculty hired at Guttman, prior to the convocation of its inaugural first-year class in 2012 and the naming of the College. Seeing it as the urban likeness of historically Black colleges and universities (HBCU), she determined to fulfill her “mission in life” – giving students of color sustained opportunities to “have that moment like, ‘Oh, maybe I could study science’,” the realization critical to “increasing the overall percentage of underrepresented people in America who are scientists, the number of Black and Latino scientists in the field, and this means pursuing graduate studies or professional school after a Bachelor’s degree.” To this ambitious end, Dr. Fuller has spearheaded the establishment of Guttman’s Associate of Science (A.S.) degree Program of Study, forthcoming in Fall 2021.
Adjunct Assistant Professor Dr. Thomas Martin’s first book, Craft Learning as Perceptual Transformation: Getting ‘the Feel’ in the Wooden Boat Workshop , has been published by Palgrave Macmillan in January 2021. Using first-person participant fieldwork in three wooden boat workshops on the East Coast of the United States, the author examines “his changing sensory experience as he learned the basics of the trade. The book reveals how experience in the workshop allows craftspeople to draw new meaning from their senses, constituting meaningful objects through perception that are invisible to the casual observer.” Dr. Martin’s research on skilled work practices is directly related to his teaching of Guttman’s hallmark Ethnographies of Work course, wherein students utilize the methods of ethnography to learn about diverse work experiences.
“I want for students to understand how their own curiosity can become a resource for self-education… that they can take control of their own education, follow their interests, and trust themselves to learn independently.”
“What drew me to Guttman is teaching,” Assistant Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies Dr. Maggie Dickinson proclaims with passion, “that community of faculty who are just so dedicated to understanding teaching as a practice and putting that at the center of their work.” The Online Course Development training she led with fellow Guttman faculty Dr. Kristina Baines, which became urgent as COVID-19 took hold in Spring 2020, embodied this value. “Dean Blake really supported us in making it a home-grown professional development. We drew on the resources at Guttman to put it together [so] it really built on the work that everybody was already doing.” Since coming to the College in 2016, Prof. Dickinson has observed the shift to recognizing “that we have faculty who are leaders in understanding some of these [pedagogical] questions and we can draw on them as experts.”
Guttman’s Exceptional First-Year Experience (FYE) Holds Annual Summer Institute for Integrative Learning
The Guttman Community College First-Year Experience (FYE) hosted its annual Summer Institute for Integrative Learning, held virtually June 22-26, 2020. Organized by Professor of English and FYE Program Coordinator Dr. Daniel Collins and Dean of Academic and Faculty Affairs Dr. Nicola Blake and supported by Assistant Dean Lavita McMath, the Institute focused on the cornerstones of the FYE: inclusion, integration, and community. The Institute prepares faculty and staff to work in the FYE and promotes excellence in teaching and student support, with the ultimate goal of increasing student retention and success in higher education. As the Guttman community grapples with the persistent social inequalities that put our Black, Latinx, and immigrant students at risk, made starkly clear by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Promising Practices that the FYE espouses have become especially relevant.
The International Print Center New York (IPCNY) New Prints 2020/Summer show, titled Give Me Space, includes two prints by Adjunct Lecturer Kathryn Larkins. This cycle of the biannual open-call exhibition focuses on spaces for political dissent and the body. It features new works by 41 artists working in the medium of print, selected by Brooklyn-based visual and multimedia artist Chitra Ganesh. The show can be viewed remotely from June 25 to September 19, 2020.
“In all of my classes, my biggest focus is building up students’ confidence so that they can persist and overcome obstacles.”
“When I first came to Guttman” in 2014, remembers Assistant Professor of Mathematics Dr. Marla Sole, “I designed a signature assignment for my Statistics class.” Working as “empirical researchers to collect data and analyze it,” students compared the prices of iced and hot coffee. Dr. Sole also arranged a visit to a local café, where the coffee buyer spoke to the class and provided the essential context that makes coursework come alive. “When I think about that research,” published in 2017 in the Journal of Statistics Education, “I always remember my first group of students” at the College, the first of many Dr. Sole has taught in courses ranging from the Quantitative Reasoning component of City Seminar to Calculus.
“The thing that you always want as a professor is that moment when the students get what you’re talking about… see something and connect it to their lives, or see [something] in their lives and connect it to [what’s] happening in the classroom… When you do something in a class and the students say it was the first time they did that, or the first time they saw the point of something.”
There is little that Associate Professor of Sociology Dr. Alia Tyner-Mullings has not done as a Guttman Founding Faculty, joining in 2011, a year before the College’s doors opened to students. Colleagues assume, she laughs, “that any committee that exists, I’m on it, which obviously is not true.” Dr. Tyner-Mullings has chaired Guttman’s chapter of the Professional Staff Congress since its inception, a position she has held through several election cycles and crucial contract negotiations. A vocal advocate for establishing the Academic Senate, she presently serves as its Vice Chair. Dr. Tyner-Mullings has collaborated to revise Guttman’s unique two-semester Ethnographies of Work (EoW) sequence and, subsequently, to create an Open Educational Resource (OER) for these courses. In addition, the acronym she coined for the Guttman Learning Outcomes that articulate educational goals and reflect the institution’s vision for our students – GLOs – has been heartily adopted.
“I always say [to my students], I want you to be the master of mathematics rather than mathematics being the master of you.”
Assistant Professor of Mathematics Dr. Vivian Lim finds Guttman “the perfect setting for being able to teach math in a way that is meaningful, that engages students critically about the world.” Teaching the Quantitative Reasoning (QR) component of City Seminar in the First-Year Experience since Fall 2017 has been ideal as “one of the fundamental learning outcomes is students being critical and using math in an interdisciplinary way.” Dr. Lim freely admits that “this is my dream job,” an opportunity to connect math directly to her students’ lives and empower them as civic agents.