By Kristin Sloane
The CTE is pleased to welcome Rose Buckelew to our team! An Assistant Professor, General Faculty in the Department of Sociology, Rose was selected as one of our CTE Faculty Fellows. These are year-long appointments designed to help support our team’s core mission of improving teaching and learning at UVA.
Rose is what we at the CTE affectionately call a frequent flyer. She has engaged in many of our offerings over the years, such as our Course Design Institute, Ignite, and various standalone workshops. She also recently served as a co-facilitator for our Religion, Race, and Democracy Institute in January 2020 and several of our workshops supporting the transition to remote instruction.
Rose teaches classes ranging from large-enrollment courses to small seminars on topics like Introduction to Sociology and Race Relations; Criminology; Race, Crime, and Punishment; and Drugs in Society.
We are excited to have Rose join us in an official capacity in her role as a Faculty Fellow. Read on to learn more about Rose, her interests, and how she hopes to continue sharing her expertise and passion for improving teaching and learning with fellow instructors.
Q: Why did you want to be a CTE Faculty Fellow? Why did you decide to apply to the position?
A. Just to keep learning with the CTE. I have already participated in a number of programs … and each one has helped me to think through some really tough pedagogical issues, and I feel has improved my teaching.
I applied because I want to continue to learn, and I want to deepen my knowledge on teaching and the research around teaching. I want to be part of a community that's focused on teaching and improving the learning of students. I also want to be part of a community that's trying new things, that's experimenting with different practices, because that's something I want to do. I appreciate the opportunity to get feedback and guidance.
So, I guess to learn and then also to share some of what I'm doing so that I could have a better-informed practice and a community of people to work with through these sorts of thorny issues that come up.
Q: What do you hope to accomplish in this role?
A. I'm deeply concerned with the experiences that students have in the classroom, particularly students of color and other marginalized students, Muslim students and queer students. Since they've been at UVA, these students have created a home for me here. And I want to give back to and support them by sharing what they've taught me and by sharing some of the practices that I engage to support them.
I feel like I'm developing this sort of pedagogical practice around what I call "decentering whiteness" in the classroom, which is thinking about the classroom situated within the University, situated within Charlottesville, Virginia, and the US. It’s thinking about how the classroom becomes this site where we reproduce and maintain different structures of power that continue to benefit a small slice of our students and that exclude students from learning and engaging with us and also create an environment where we can’t learn from all students either. As an instructor, I want to learn from all my students. I hope to develop that practice of decentering whiteness and share it with others.
Q: What are your plans while in the position? What projects or activities will you be working on?
A. This spring, [UVA Acts Artistic Director and Program Manager Cortney McEniry] and I are working on a two-part workshop series on building a more inclusive classroom. The first workshop is on designing classroom practices and policies in community with your students. You do that collaboratively to develop and facilitate this more inclusive classroom. Then the second workshop is about sustaining that or trying to maintain that by focusing on your practice when these issues of bias and power emerge. Again, this goes back to my interest in decentering whiteness in the classroom and supporting students of color and other marginalized students by thinking about their experiences. That's one of the things I'm going to be doing in the spring.
I've also played around with specs (specifications) grading … I'd like to return to thinking about issues of inclusivity and bias in grading, in assessments. I'd really like to think through more practices and try them out. How can we make success more accessible to more students through the design of our assessments, everything from our instructions to our rubrics to the activities that we ask students to do?
Q: What have you learned from teaching online the past year that you'd like to share with other instructors?
A. Since Spring 2020, I’ve taught about 600 students. There were a lot of students, and they were great. They were kind and patient and supportive and understanding. And I made mistakes. I made mistakes in designing my classes. I made mistakes with the technology. Students were so gracious. They just gave me so much grace, and I tried to return that to them by creating classes that have structure, flexibility, and limited choice, which I know sounds sort of contradicting. I found that my students—in soliciting feedback from them at multiple points over 2020—what they wanted was actually structure and some flexibility, but not too much choice.
If anything, I would just recommend that we listen to our students and create opportunities for them to provide feedback. They've been incredibly understanding, and they've just been so gracious and giving me so much grace that I want to reciprocate that by providing them with thoughtful classes.
Then the only other thing I would say, which is really tricky, is I made a decision to be more transparent with them in terms of how I was processing things that were happening (nationally), and they really responded positively to that. I think dependent upon a faculty member’s social location, they may not feel comfortable doing that for good reason, but I told them when I was burnt out. I told them when I was excited. I told them when I was nervous about things that were happening nationally. They seem to have appreciated that. I think that's what I've learned and hope to carry into 2021.
As Rose mentioned, she and UVA Acts Artistic Director and Program Manager Cortney McEniry are offering a two-part workshop series this semester: “Structuring and Sustaining a More Inclusive Classroom.” The series can be booked by departments and Schools. Read more and request the workshops for your group.
Rose is one of four CTE Faculty Fellows. The others will be joining us later in the year and will be announced then.