237. Latina Educational Developers

Our intersectional identities impact our positionality in the work that we do. In this episode, Carol Hernandez joins us to discuss her qualitative research addressing the experiences of educational designers from an underrepresented group.

Carol is a Senior Instructional Designer and Faculty Developer at the Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching at Stony Brook University. Carol recently successfully defended her dissertation at Northeastern University. In it she examined the simultaneity of the multiple identities experienced by Latina educational developers working in higher ed. Before moving into higher ed, Carol was an award-winning journalist.

Show Notes


John: Our intersectional identities impact our positionality in the work that we do. In this episode, we discuss a qualitative research analysis addressing the experiences of educational designers from an underrepresented group.


John: Thanks for joining us for Tea for Teaching, an informal discussion of innovative and effective practices in teaching and learning.

Rebecca: This podcast series is hosted by John Kane, an economist…

John: …and Rebecca Mushtare, a graphic designer…

Rebecca: …and features guests doing important research and advocacy work to make higher education more inclusive and supportive of all learners.


John: Our guest today is Carol Hernandez. She is a Senior Instructional Designer and Faculty Developer at the Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching at Stony Brook University. Carol recently successfully defended her dissertation at Northeastern University. In it she examined the simultaneity of the multiple identities experienced by Latina educational developers working in higher ed. Before moving into higher ed, Carol was an award-winning journalist. Welcome, Carol.

Carol: Hi, thank you for having me today.

Rebecca: Today’s teas are… Carol, are you drinking tea?

Carol: I’m not drinking tea right now.

Rebecca: Oh.

Carol: Should I go get some? [LAUGHTER]

John: We have had a number of guests, probably about 40% or so, who are not drinking tea. So you’re in very good company.

Rebecca: Yes, excellent company in fact.

Carol: I’m usually drinking tea, but it just so happens that right now I’m not.

Rebecca: Do you have a favorite kind of tea?

Carol: Yeah, I guess I like chamomile.

Rebecca: Oh, that sounds nice and refreshing and calming.

Carol: Mmhmm, or something fruity. There’s something called zesty raspberry zinger or something like that. I like that.

John: Raspberry zinger, yeah.

Rebecca: Yeah, I’m familiar.

Carol: Yeah.

John: And I have a peppermint spearmint blend today.

Rebecca: Okay, we’re calming down now, huh, John?

John: After the last four or five cups of black tea, yes.

Rebecca: Yeah, I’m still hyped up on my Scottish afternoon tea.

John: We’ve invited you here because we were intrigued by the title of your dissertation, I’m Not Like You. I’m Different. But before we talk about your research and your dissertation, could you tell us a bit about your pathway, which is somewhat unique, from being a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist to an educational developer?

Carol: So it starts with me going into journalism. At 19 I was an intern at the Miami Herald, and I loved it. I was so happy there, and I met all these famous writers. It was really such a dream, and I learned everything there. And then finished college and started working as a journalist, and really enjoyed it all throughout my 20s. And then I started editing, so I went to the editing side. And the way I think of writing and editing is like… writing is the creative, messy part, and then the editor comes in and analyzes it, and looks for fit, and cleans it up, and tries to make it even better. So the two really complement each other. I would never say one’s better than the other, but I think as a writer you have to be aware of those two approaches, because sometimes you just want to be in the writing space and sometimes you just want to be in the editing space. And I think what happens is sometimes you end up doing both at the same time, and you can’t get out of your own way. So anyway, in journalism, the things I really loved about it were writing, I love writing, reading. I love talking to strangers. [LAUGHTER] I love asking questions. I’m very curious, and I love learning. I love doing research, I love looking up documents, going to the courthouse and pulling lawsuits, reading things like that. That’s fun for me. And I realized I had this skill set, and there was an opportunity to teach as an adjunct at Stony Brook University in the School of Journalism. And so I started teaching, and I realized I am a subject matter expert, but I have no teaching background. I had never taught anything to anyone, and I needed help with the teaching. And I found myself at the faculty center talking to people who know about teaching, and I thought, “Oh my gosh, I didn’t know this was a job.” [LAUGHTER] And I thought, “Wow, this is interesting.” And I realized that the skill set that you use in instructional design is very much the skill set that you use as a journalist. And I also realized that as a journalist, you are, in a sense, an educator, because you need to quickly learn something, and then you need to explain it to your reader in a way that they will understand and be able to take some action, some informed action, based on the journalism that you have provided. So that opened my eyes to a possible career. And it coincided with the time that I had small children, and the life of a journalist, at least for me, when I was really having fun, that’s all I did, and it just took up all my time. But if you have a family that wouldn’t be fair. [LAUGHTER] So I looked around and I thought, “Well, what would be some other possible work?” And I decided, “Okay, higher ed seems like a very civilized workplace.” [LAUGHTER] Little did I know. [LAUGHTER]

John: At least it’s nice to think of it that way, yes.

Carol: You know, I just thought, “Well, I won’t have to work on Thanksgiving. I won’t have to work three to midnight. I won’t have to go ask people about their loved one who just got shot down in front of them, right? I don’t have to go to school board meetings.” There were so many pluses. [LAUGHTER] And when I was a journalist I did a lot of cops, courts, crime, really tragic stories. It was rough. I think I see myself as an upbeat person, and it was hard to stay upbeat when I was covering those kinds of events. And now that I’m not in daily journalism anymore, in that field they now discuss trauma and how it affects you as a reporter, and when I was a reporter nobody was thinking that way, and so it’s like a totally different way to see it. So I think that’s good, that it’s changed over time. So that’s basically my journey from journalism to higher ed and instructional design.

John: And working as an instructional designer, being upbeat and positive is actually a very useful asset when you’re working with faculty who are often a little bit anxious at the time, I would think.

Carol: Oh yeah, yeah. Yesterday somebody came in, and the person was so upset, and distraught, and just beside herself, and I felt almost like a counselor, “It’s okay, let’s talk about it.” [LAUGHTER] And then by the time she left, she was smiling and she wanted to make a date for coffee, and I was like, “Oh, thank God.” And I really felt like, I don’t know, she just needed, in that moment, somebody to hold some space for her, look at her course, and make some suggestions and commiserate with her, and then she was able to keep going.

John: Excellent.

Rebecca: We have to rise to all kinds of different occasions in these roles, right? Like far beyond what we think our actual job description [LAUGHTER] is sometimes.

Carol: Yes, yeah. So another job that I’ve discovered when you work in a Center for Teaching and Learning, that nobody told me about, is event planning.

Rebecca: Yup. [LAUGHTER]

Carol: Which I do not like at all, but I have to do it. So I feel like we need to tell people about this, warn them ahead of time.

John: Or not, because someone has to do it, [LAUGHTER] and sometimes it’s better to be surprised once you’ve already committed to it.

Carol: Yeah, we have a Teaching and Learning Center faculty commons space, it’s beautiful. And we used to have coffee, and people would stop in to get coffee. And so for some reason we would always run out of lids, and that became like a crisis, “We’re out of lids!” [LAUGHTER] “Somebody needs to order coffee lids.” And that was always an issue.

John: We used to offer coffee, but it just became too much of a pain for me to clean it, so we switched to tea, and that’s worked well for us since then. It’s pretty easy to clean up hot water.

Carol: Yes, yes. So because of the pandemic we stopped, so we don’t offer anything. We do have the water, so you could bring a tea bag and go for it.

John: We have probably over 100 different varieties of teas here, so we still provide that, but it’s all in nice sealed containers.

Carol: Yeah. Good.

Rebecca: Yeah, so we definitely want to talk about your dissertation. Can you provide a little overview of your dissertation and the methodology that you’ve used?

Carol: Sure, so my dissertation… I used a methodology called narrative inquiry. And narrative inquiry is a qualitative methodology, it’s based on stories, so the unit of analysis is the story. And you are looking at things that are literary concepts. So symbols, metaphors, emotion, humor, all the things that make for a good story, become the markers of what you’re analyzing. Because as people, that’s what we’re drawn to, and so that’s what you’re looking at. And in my study I had a small number of participants for a couple of reasons. One is I was looking specifically at Latina women, Hispanic women, who are working in higher education institutions and are doing educational development work, and there are not a lot of us. So I put out a national call, and I ended up with not that many people. So it actually works well with narrative inquiry because it really is for a smaller number of participants. It works well for populations that are marginalized in some way or have experienced some marginalized status. So there’s fewer of us. And it’s qualitative, so it’s based on interviews. It requires you, at least for my study, I did three interviews with each person, and so it also looks at past, present, and future. So you’re looking at people’s stories about their experiences, past, present, and future. So that was the methodology that I used.

John: And that interview process seems to track very nicely with your prior career too, that experience of interviewing and extracting information.

Carol: Yes, absolutely. I don’t think of it as extracting information so much as trying to immerse yourself in the lived experience of another person. And while I’m not saying you couldn’t do it in one interview, the approach that I used really emphasizes building a relationship with the participant, and it emphasizes that storytelling triggers the stories of those who listen and that it is a co-constructive process. So you tell a story, and it reminds me of a story that I can share with you, and so both of us are enriched by sharing these stories. And so that was the vibe the whole time. And I would say good journalists are aware of that. They’re aware of… getting a story isn’t just turning on a tape recorder, it’s really about connecting to people, to their humanity, and sort of trying to put yourself in their shoes. So I agree, it was something that… I felt so happy, and so lucky, I could not believe that this approach existed. Because when I started my doctorate I thought that I would be doing some statistical analysis, that I would have to have thousands of participants. Well, I didn’t know, I didn’t know anything about that stuff. So through my doctoral program, when I found out that there are other ways to do research I was just like, “Thank you!” [LAUGHTER]

John: So instead of gathering a lot of details on specific values over a large sample, you were exploring in much greater depth the experiences of those participants. So you’re acquiring a lot of information, but it’s a much more intensive process it sounds like.

Carol: Yes, and so in my doctoral program we were taught that the methods complement each other. So if you are drawn to quantitative, good for you, do it. And if you’re drawn to qualitative, do that. And those will complement each other, one is not better than the other. So the program I went to is at Northeastern, and they focus on the scholar practitioner, and they focus a lot on disrupting that hegemony. They’re really into social justice, and having us look at our own positionality, our own bias, our own privilege, and making us question ourselves as being scholars, as contributing to knowledge. So for me, again, I lucked out, because I got into this program, and it was just such a good fit. And again, I lucked out with my advisor, my advisor, I feel like she was an angel sent from heaven, I love her.

Rebecca: Can you talk about some of the challenges that the educational developers that you interviewed identified as they navigate within their institutions?

Carol: Sure. So there are a lot of challenges within the space that we know as higher education. It’s its own world with its own language, and its own culture, and its own tradition. And so many of those are just understood, so that makes them hidden. And when you are coming from a family, let’s say your family is an immigrant family, or English is not your first language, or your parents never went to college, your name is in Spanish. So there’s so many challenges where you constantly are reminded that you don’t belong there, or you don’t fit there. So one challenge, for example, one participant was saying that her name is a Spanish name, and early in her career she changed it to a name in English. And it worked for many years, and she realized one day that she had changed it to make other people comfortable. Other people couldn’t pronounce her name in English, so she changed it. And she realized that that was the power dynamics of the workplace, and that was a challenge. Another participant is Afro-Latina, and so people in her workplace didn’t know what to make of her, and just assumed that because she is not white appearing that she is an expert in diversity, and that was not her background at all. And so they kept pulling her into workshops to do stuff on diversity, and she’s like, “Why are you asking me to do this?” So that’s a challenge, and another challenge is… you can be a Hispanic woman and be white passing, and that’s a challenge because then people just assume that you have no other culture except the American culture. So this one participant, she was born in Puerto Rico, and her family moved here when she was young. And so her entire cultural identity was Puerto Rican, but in a higher ed space she was treated like a regular white woman. She felt weird about that. She’s like, “Well, do I need to tell people who I really am? Or should I just let them think whatever they want to think.” So those are some of the challenges that came up.

John: One of the things you mentioned was that people are often singled out because they are underrepresented to serve as representatives of that whole group. Was that something that was commonly experienced by participants in your study?

Carol: That depended on how their appearance communicated their identity, their ethnicity. And it really depends because for Hispanic women there’s colorism, there could be language differences, if you have a heavy accent that kind of becomes a marker for being different, hair texture, it really depends. So if you are different sounding enough or different looking enough, yes, somehow you do become the spokesperson, or you’re asked to comment on something that may or may not be your area of expertise. Unfortunately, you’re pulled into providing some extra labor and extra education and teaching around certain issues. Which, it depends, some people want that, and some people don’t want that. Across all participants they wanted to have an impact on their workplace, so they were looking at different ways of doing that. Could it be mentoring? Could it be creating affinity groups? Could it be collaborating to do research? So they were aware of it and actively trying to disrupt the system so that other generations of Hispanic women would have more space for them.

Rebecca: So one of the things that we’ve started talking a little bit about is representation. So there’s growing representation in college students, but Latinas are underrepresented among faculty, educational developers, instructional designers. What might be missing in our course design practices as a result of this under representation?

Carol: What might be missing in the course design? I think not just the course design, but just thinking about higher education in general.

Rebecca: The design of higher education. [LAUGHTER]

Carol: Yes, the whole thing, the whole thing. For example, we have so many programs where we have good intentions, but maybe we’re not thinking about it from a perspective of someone who doesn’t have access to social capital, or outside resources, or transportation. So one I think about all the time is how many institutions promote internships, and many institutions, they’re very proud of their outreach through internships, but if they’re unpaid internships you’re not helping anyone because students who are not self-funded are not going to be able to afford to do your internship. So things like that. Programs, for example, one of the participants is in engineering education, and she talked about programs that are meant for students who are underrepresented, so enrichment programs, trips, conferences, things like that. And what she found was that the target students were not taking part because they didn’t have the time, or the money to go on these trips, because they were working to pay for their schooling or their rent. I think that’s one design flaw. And even, just in general, I think higher education so often we have good intentions, but then we end up becoming gatekeepers and becoming very exclusionary, and I would like to work on that more. So when I work with faculty at the course level we might have conversations about… Who are the authors you’re assigning? Do you ever have students reflect on the positionality of the authors? And sometimes I’ll say, “Let’s look at your assessment. Are you doing a lot of multiple choice exams? Or do you have options for students to do other kinds of ways to demonstrate what they’ve learned? Are you diverse in how you assess learning?” So those are some things I could do with individual instructors, or in a workshop, or something like that.

Rebecca: You’ve talked a little bit about some design flaws for students. Can you talk about some of the design flaws in higher ed for faculty and staff?

Carol: So in the literature a few things happen. When we talk about, for example, a hiring committee, is your hiring committee diverse? And when you advertise or you promote a job, are you promoting it within networks that are diverse networks? And are you looking for a PhD or an EdD? Because if it’s a PhD it might be more restrictive, you might not get as many diverse candidates. And who are the leaders in your organization? Are they diverse? And are they assessed on how well they develop? Not just hire, but develop and promote diverse candidates. So often in higher ed we focus on just hiring people, but then we kind of forget about developing them, and promoting them, and thinking about how we want them to develop to the point where they leave and they tell other people about how great we are. So it’s not just about hiring people and keeping them there, but hiring them, developing them, and seeing them launch for the benefit of your institution, seeing that as a positive.

Rebecca: That’s a good point. I think that’s something that we don’t often talk about. Certainly, not developing community and helping someone develop as a member of a community, but then also that it’s important that they just have a good positive experience that they can share no matter where they end up, whether they stay or whether they go. I really love that you’ve highlighted that.

Carol: Yeah. So absolutely, what you find is that people are part of networks. For example, I’m part of this network, it’s Latinas Completing Doctorates. And so you get the inside scoop on everything, and that’s good because I want to know the inside scoop. So if I’m thinking about a job somewhere, I would get in there immediately and be like, “Tell me what’s going on.” So those networks do exist, and we need to be aware that if people come to our institutions and they feel isolated, it’s not going to be good.

John: And one of the problems we talked about in our previous podcast, and you’ve alluded to, is that often people who are from underrepresented groups get all these extra workload issues which makes it much harder to progress through the ranks and so forth, and make that sometimes a much more stressful experience than it is for people who are not in those categories. What can Latina educational developers do to have more influence in their positions?

Carol: That’s a good question. So one of my participants, we did talk about that, and basically she said she’s at an institution where, I think she said she might be the only Latina professor. And she said, “I’m white passing, and I like it that way. I do not want to have any conversations about diversity.” [LAUGHTER] She felt like she just had to protect herself. I said, “How do you communicate your identities to your colleagues?” And she said, “I don’t, I don’t need to do that.” She said, “I save that for my students. With my students I can be more honest, and I can talk a little bit more about myself. But with colleagues…” She said, “No, I don’t want to go there because I already know about the bias and assumptions.” She said, “I’m not going to go there.” So I think it really depends, unfortunately, on who you are and how visible you are.

John: One of the things you’ve chosen to work on, though, is the area of inclusive teaching practices, as a major focus of your work as an educational developer. Could you give our listeners some recommendations on some inclusive teaching practices that you encourage faculty to adopt?

Carol: I have chosen that. One of the things I noticed is… that doesn’t come up, maybe it’s coming up more often now, but when I first started in my research that was not something that would come up a lot in the research of educational development. We talk about excellent teaching and learning, and it’s excellent, and it’s active, and it’s high impact, and all of these things about good teaching. And I get excited about all that stuff, I love all that stuff. But I noticed that we never really talked about language, or accent, or ethnicity, or low income. I felt like there was this whole area that we were just kind of ignoring, and were saying like, “This is how you can be an excellent instructor, excellent teacher,” and ignoring things that, for students, are very at the forefront of their experience, like language. So, when I started school, I didn’t speak English. I learned English in school, right? So my teachers had to deal with that, and some teachers were cool, and some teachers were not cool. And the ones that were not cool, they were kind of nasty about it, and so then that affects how you feel about going to school, and how you feel about learning. And there’s a lot of research that looks at that, at being shamed because you’re not an English first language learner. Or your parents, they’re immigrants, and they don’t come to the school, they don’t come to open houses, and you know… Why? Is it because they don’t care? There’s all these things that come up for students, and it carries over to the college level even with graduate students. So one of the studies I read for my own dissertation looked at Hispanic women who were going for higher degrees, and how their own family sometimes would say, “That’s not a good idea, because who’s going to want to marry you with all this education?” Culturally, it was like, “This is not good. You need to focus on mom, family, caretaking. Do you really need to get a PhD? No.” So that came up. One of my participants said as soon as she told her mom she was pregnant, the mom said, “You need to stop with that little hobby that you have.” You know, her dissertation. The mom said, “Leave that alone.” To me, that tells you something about some of the barriers that you might face as a Hispanic woman, not just from society at large, but from your own family.

John: So one of the challenges we face is, many of our students are faced with that, particularly people who are from first-generation households, who may not understand the benefits of education and the role it can play. Often, it’s pressure from parents to choose a particular major, one that will guarantee a job in business or something else, but often students will want to pursue a career that they’re very interested in, but there may be some family pressure. And from what I’ve seen, it seems to be more common for first-generation students to pursue fields where the parents believe the job prospects are better based on their own experience and interactions. So I think that is something that perhaps faculty often are called on to address at least.

Carol: Right. In general, what I found through my reading is that higher education’s very expensive. And so families, of course, are questioning the value, and what is the outcome of investing all this money and time? Will my child end up working? Or just being in debt? Like what’s going to happen? So yeah, I think a lot of that is happening. We’re looking at higher ed and trying to assess it. Are students really learning what we’re saying that they’re learning? So yeah, there is more of a spotlight. When I went to college, you know, a hundred years ago when I was in undergrad, [LAUGHTER] the syllabus was one page. [LAUGHTER] It was like, “Here are the dates, there’s a midterm and there’s a final, and if you miss it, you fail the class.”

John: And maybe there was a list of topics you’d be addressing with the chapters corresponding…

Rebecca: Maybe.

John: …but that was about it.

Carol: Yeah, but I remember the syllabus was one or two pages, and it was a different time. We now expect a lot more, and I guess it’s good, but then when I see a twenty-page syllabus I just want to cry. [LAUGHTER]

John: So what are some other strategies?

Carol: Some other strategies… So what I’ve read is that first, as the instructor, it’s recommended that you talk a little bit about your own positionality. Whatever you’re comfortable with, you don’t have to tell people your life story. But by just acknowledging your own ethnicity, or race, or positionality, or first-gen status, that just by doing that, you are making it okay for others to reflect on theirs. Not necessarily even asking them to share that, but just kind of acknowledging your own. And so I tried it out, and I found that my students were receptive to that. It gave them words to talk about themselves if they wanted to. And another practice would be… Look at your syllabus and make sure that you’re assigning underrepresented authors. So are you assigning black women? Are you assigning trans authors? Are you assigning people who are not represented in your discipline or in your profession? Can you bring in guest speakers? Can you offer some choice in how students show what they know? Can you get students working on some kind of community project, helping them make some connections? What is the community impact of their learning? Helping them make connections to their personal goals. So those are some ways to address maybe some areas that we’ve overlooked in the past, and having students reflect on who they are and also who their instructors are. So Hispanic women, that segment of the labor force is one of the fastest growing. Hispanic women are also one of the fastest growing populations that are going to college, but they tend to be also the least likely to complete, and the most likely to be living in poverty. So by the time they get to higher ed they’ve already jumped through lots of hoops and surmounted a lot of obstacles. So the literature is looking even farther back, like preschool. So some of the things, yes, we can address, but it’s almost too late at the higher ed level.

John: Or at the very least, we need to provide more support for students who come in with backgrounds that may not be as enriched because of the quality of the educational experiences up to that point.

Carol: Right. Or let’s flip it, and say that their experiences are enriching, right? That they have experiences that they can share that are valuable. Why am I saying that they haven’t had enriching experiences? Maybe they were translating documents at age eleven for their parents. To me, that is a high level achievement. Being bilingual, that’s something important. Working for your family, supporting your family, that’s important. That’s another practice, is reframing… What is enrichment? And what is social capital? And what is cultural capital?

Rebecca: And what are those achievements? Because we often don’t value some of those achievements in our culture…

Carol: Mmhmm.

Rebecca: …the culture of higher ed. But those are so important, those are things that they can share with their colleagues in class, and that they can learn from each other. And I find that when I’ve had opportunities to find out things like that from a student, they’ve shared, and I’ve said, “Please share that experience with your colleagues in this context. This is actually really valuable.” They always seem so surprised.

Carol: Right!

Rebecca: They wouldn’t necessarily think of that as being a valuable thing to share, or they’ve been treated in a way that hasn’t made it so that it has been comfortable or optimal to share.

Carol: Right. So since you are the instructor, you sort of have a magic wand, and you can wave your magic wand and give them the words and the frame to say, “This is knowledge, and this is valuable, and you should be proud.” That’s the power you have in the classroom.

John: As an instructor, one of the most important jobs is to treat diversity as an asset within the class environment. And in fact, just telling students that they all are bringing in their own unique experiences that can enliven our discussion of these topics, and we need to hear all these perspectives in order to fully understand the topics we’re addressing in class. So welcoming that diversity is very important.

Carol: Yeah, for sure, for sure. The other thing I was thinking is… and my thinking changed over the course of working on my dissertation. So it took me six years from start to finish, and [LAUGHTER] I think I started with like, stars in my eyes, like, “Education is going to fix everything!” And then by the end I just was like some curmudgeon… I don’t know. I think I’m recovering from finishing the dissertation.

Rebecca: Yeah, but I mean, there’s so many barriers that sometimes it feels like it’s completely impossible to overcome those barriers, or to redesign a system that has such a legacy. It’s difficult to change a system. It takes a lot of time, and it’s really slow, and it feels like change doesn’t happen fast enough. [LAUGHTER] So it can be really easy to get frustrated, rather than trying to work to change the system further.

Carol: Right. So the theoretical framework that I use is a theory called simultaneity. And the scholar that proposed it, she was looking specifically at the system, and that they are all happening at the same time. And so when you talk about systems, that, to me, is the key, because an individual can be very prepared and go into a system that just chews them up. One strategy is numbers, we need numbers. We need more people who have had these experiences to come into these spaces, and that’s where a lot of my participants wanted to connect, and they were just so happy to be able to tell their story. And that was interesting to me because sometimes you think, “Who’s going to want to tell me their stories?” But they were so happy to share, they really loved it, and I was so grateful to hear them. So connections, mentoring, networking, affinity groups, supporting each other, joining committees, meeting people who are interested in the same things. Those are some things that I’m trying to do, personally.

John: So that’s important both for faculty and instructional support, as well as for students having those connections and networks.

Carol: Definitely. That’s why I came to talk to you both because I thought, “Wow, this is an opportunity,” and I love talking, so. [LAUGHTER]

John: Well, we very much appreciate you joining us, and sharing your story with us.

Carol: Thank you.

Rebecca: We always wrap up by asking, What’s next?

Carol: So for me, when I finished with the dissertation, I felt like I immediately needed to publish something. I felt like I was in a race. And I don’t know, at some point I realized, I need to do something totally different. So I signed up for an improv class, and that was so much fun, I loved it. And then I signed up for a TV writing class, so now I’m writing sitcoms. And that’s totally different, and I’m learning again. I’m terrible at it, I’m trying to learn how to do this other kind of writing. So for me, that’s been my way to recharge, to figure out what the next step is. Because I don’t know what the next step is.

John: Those types of experiences are something that I think all faculty should experience, too. And Rebecca and I have talked about this in the past, because having the experience of struggling with something helps put you in a better mindset for dealing with students who are facing the very same sort of challenges when they’re approaching a new subject for the first time.

Carol: Absolutely, yeah.

Rebecca: It’s funny too, as a lifelong learner, that [LAUGHTER] it can be just as frustrating and scary to do something new, but also, I think as people who are in higher education, there’s something about that feeling that we must like because we keep going back for it. [LAUGHTER]

Carol: It’s fun, to me, to learn new things. So I guess I decided I should have fun. And not that my dissertation wasn’t fun, but it was such a long journey, and I feel like I deserve just some fun.

Rebecca: I think so too.

John: And it certainly helps maintain that positive attitude that you mentioned before.

Carol: Yeah, yeah, yeah, definitely. I love comedy, so I feel like it’s recharging my battery.

Rebecca: Well, thank you so much for sharing your story and some ideas about how maybe we can instigate some change in our institutions and in our classrooms.

Carol: Yeah, thank you for having me.


John: If you’ve enjoyed this podcast, please subscribe and leave a review on iTunes or your favorite podcast service. To continue the conversation, join us on our Tea for Teaching Facebook page.

Rebecca: You can find show notes, transcripts and other materials on teaforteaching.com. Music by Michael Gary Brewer.

John: Editing assistance provided by Anna Croyle, Annalyn Smith, and Joshua Vega.