Find Community and Join the Discussion with PFF’s Reading Groups

Written by Chris Pasion, graduate assistant to The Graduate School.

A student working with a mentor during  a reading group.

The Preparing Future Faculty program (PFF) is essential for those with aspirations to one day teach in the college classroom. Through reading groups, workshops, and mentorship experiences, this program prepares you for a career in academia and explores the skills that are used by teachers and faculty members on a daily basis. Plus, the PFF reading groups are open to anyone, whether you’re a formal member of the program or not, which makes them a great gateway to meeting peers who are interested in the topics being discussed. If you’re looking for community in your academic journey, you’ll find it here. 

One of the great benefits of the PFF’s reading groups is that they bring people together from all sorts of disciplines, with each person bringing their own perspective and experience to the table. Yonatan Eyal, the Director of Graduate Studies, notes that “The reading groups are a great opportunity for students to take charge of their own education and their own exploration.  They can lead the discussion, take charge of the seminar, and really connect with people across disciplines to have a conversation about ‘What do we really want out of this experience? What does it mean to become an expert?’”

The Reading Groups Schedule

This semester’s reading groups will cover topics such as activism in academia, motivation, procrastination, crisis management, and others that are pertinent to the times we’re living in, especially as they relate to how teachers lead the classroom and help their students navigate these topics. Cory Whitworth, the PFF program coordinator, says that the topics were chosen "to be applicable for all disciplines and are in a discussion format to ignite curiosity and collaboration among those pursuing academic careers." The reading groups will be offered in two different setups this semester, with some being conducted synchronously via WebEx, and others asynchronously in a discussion board format. 

1.    Teaching the Neurodivergent Student

        January 25th-29th via Google

The first reading group will discuss how higher education institutions can work to create a more inclusive and accommodating learning environment for students. We all have experienced the changing learning landscape in our own ways, so it’s important to consider all learning styles and needs when designing course material, ensuring equal accessibility for all. Register for Teaching the Neurodivergent Student to receive more information.

2.    Academics & Activism

Thursday, February 11th from 11:00 a.m.–12:30 p.m. via WebEx

This reading group will explore what role higher education plays in activism, social justice, and equity. These conversations have increasing importance in the classroom setting, and this reading group will explore how faculty can facilitate the discussion. Register for Academics & Activism  to receive more information.

3.    Mentoring Best Practices

March 8th-12th via Google

Mentors are incredibly important in guiding students’ academic journey. This reading group will discuss how the role of a mentor can transform the student experience and help bring their education full circle. Register for Mentoring Best Practices to receive more information.

4.    Faculty & Crisis Management

Tuesday, March 23rd from 11:30 a.m.–1:00 p.m. via WebEx

Faculty play an incredibly important role in recognizing students going through a crisis and in connecting them with the proper resources. Pandemic or not, students can be affected by many different stressors that can lead them to experience crisis. This reading group will prepare participants on how to manage these situations with compassion. Register for Faculty & Crisis Management to receive more information.

5.    Examining Student Motivations

Thursday, April 8th from 11:00 a.m.–12:30 p.m. via WebEx

The final reading group of the semester will analyze what motivates students to engage in the classroom and how faculty members can create an environment where they are encouraged to do so. Register for Examining Student Motivations to receive more information.

For a full description of each reading group, as well as link to sign up, visit the PFF reading groups webpage. For more information on the PFF program as a whole, check out this feature from the archives and visit the PFF webpage.