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April 10, 2018

By Carolyn Luna, Lecturer, Mathematics

Creating change on campus often starts with small events, one of which was held in the mathematics department conference room in the Flawn Sciences Building on March 7th. As members of the UTSA Teaching and Learning Services Faculty Learning Community (FLC), Paul Ardoin and I researched issues on campus related to classroom environment as community. Paul is faculty in the Department of English and I teach in the Department of Mathematics. By collaborating outside of our disciplines, Paul and I both learned that, despite the difference in subject matter, we share similar concerns for our students.

Why foster relationships with colleagues outside of your department? Working with faculty outside of your discipline expands your pedagogical skills, creates a broader support network, and allows you to explore inclusive teaching strategies that empower our diverse student body. There is power in sharing ideas and knowledge! Others can recommend strategies which you may not have considered had you not initiated the conversation.

Faculty have a responsibility to include all students in the classroom dialogue. By working with colleagues across different disciplines, we can deepen our discussion of student inclusion and begin to put our words into action, starting with our own classrooms.

Ready to start a dialogue? Here are some tips for fostering cross-discipline collaboration:

  • Have a goal: find a specific public speaking event or a publication that has a submission deadline. A deadline to work towards creates the common goal you need.
  • Identify the personal impact: collaborators should be motivated by a common goal. Whether it is an addition to a CV or an improvement in the classroom, you want to be sure that collaborators view the topic or subject as worthy of their time.
  • Make it a regular occurrence: you’ll learn the most from your colleagues if you periodically discuss and share ideas in an informal setting. Periodically working on a product and continually revisiting it for editing increase your chances for a “finished” version.
  • Enjoy the experience and the learning: approach cross-disciplinary work with an open mind. You’ll be surprised at how much you have in common with colleagues in different departments!