Faculty learning communities are defined as “cross-disciplinary faculty and staff group of 6-15 members that engage in ‘an active, collaborative, yearlong program with a curriculum about enhancing teaching and learning and with frequent seminars and activities that provide learning, development, the scholarship of teaching, and community building’” (Newman, 2017, p. 428).
At Peabody, the Learning Innovation team in collaboration with Institute Studies provides the frameworks and financial and structural supports for faculty to initiate, participate in, and report out of learning communities. These communities are provided platforms to share their findings, outcomes, and recommendations with both their peers and leadership, with the goal of improving the teaching and learning experience across the institution in a variety of ways.
A faculty learning community eligible for funding includes some or all of the following:
Funding up to $1250 per learning community per year will cover purchases for educational purposes, including but not limited to materials (books, research materials, etc.) and guest speaker stipends.
Each learning community should have one Chair and one Co-Chair to administer the community and keep it on track. Chairs and Co-Chairs of a learning community will:
* The first formal learning communities will be piloted at Peabody in Spring semester of 2022. These abbreviated learning communities will meet 2 or more times during the semester, receive up to $750 for educational expenses, and each Chair and co-Chair will receive a $400 stipend.
Chair: Agustin Muriago
At the intersection of technology and pedagogy, this learning community focuses on resources for efficient piano instruction, both remote and in person. Through its members’ experience and guest lecturers, the community discusses web-based platforms, apps for sight reading and guided practice, and the applications of innovative technology such as Yamaha’s Disklavier remote lessons for both private and group settings in piano teaching.
“The goal of this faculty learning community was to create a space to exchange ideas, resources, apps, and to explore how technology can support our pedagogy for both online and in-person piano instruction.
The pilot consisted of three meetings in which we discussed various teaching apps, including Read Ahead, a sight-reading app developed by Ken Johansen. We paired this discussion with app store gift cards, which our members found “very practical for experimenting with these apps”. We also read and discussed excerpts from iPractice: Technology in the 21st Century Music Practice Room.
Our guest speaker, Lisa Yui, presented on asynchronous teaching of piano class and piano literature courses using Zoom and Canvas—a perfect introduction to our upcoming LMS transition. Our members found this session valuable and enjoyed the opportunity to ‘make connections with people at other schools.’
I am grateful for these opportunities to connect with other colleagues and enhance our teaching.”
Chairs: Elizabeth Futral and Anicia Timberlake
As we work to diversify our curriculum and make our teaching more just, we feel we need some hands-on practice in facilitating the essential conversations that this work prompts. Our FLC offers faculty a space to practice guiding such conversations in our classrooms and studios. We anticipate focusing on hands-on activities such as role-playing and workshopping assignments and syllabi, while referring a core set of texts that will hopefully include material from other musical institutions. The conversations will hopefully center around situations we have experienced, such as, for instance, being asked about the ethics of programming works that contain outdated stereotypes. We are less looking for answers to these ethical questions than we are ways to have sensitive, vulnerable conversations about them.
“Our learning community focused on facilitating difficult conversations with students about issues of arts, ethics, and justice: for instance, when students ask about the ethics of programming works that contain outdated stereotypes. Rather than providing students with ready-made answers, we explored listening techniques that would help us empower students to make their own ethical choices.
We started by discussing the principles of non-violent communication and the LARA method. We then put these principles into practice through extensive role-playing of situations we have encountered with our students. Our FLC participants felt the community helped us grow as listeners and communicators. We’re looking forward to continuing our work this summer and next fall.“
Chair: Ahlam Musa and Kathleen DeLaurenti
Since international students constitute over 30% of the Peabody student body, it is of essence that their needs are met in and outside the classroom. This PLC focuses on improving the experience of international students at Peabody by understanding their needs and addressing teaching issues as well as providing opportunities for linguistic and cultural enrichment. Sample topics may include (but not limited to): teaching non-native speakers of English, bridging differences and capitalizing on prior knowledge, assessment challenges, course design that engages students’ background and prior knowledge…etc.
“The most meaningful aspect of our Learning Community was connecting with colleagues across Peabody who were interested in learning more about supporting our international students and multilingual learners. However, it was exciting to expand that conversation by inviting faculty as well as teaching and learning staff from across divisions for a workshop led by Nigel Caplan.
We’re very excited about the enthusiasm around this issue and are hopeful that we’ll be able to continue conversations and work in this are to improve as instructors, too.”
Chair: Mikel Combs
This group hopes to help decode the way jazz and classical styles, and the theoretical language we use to describe them, intersect, overlap, and diverge. Often musicians in one ‘camp’ want to engage with music of the ‘other side’, but don’t always have the tools to explain what we hear. Also, just as with related verbal languages, the two styles broadly share a number of terms and concepts but also have different ways of explaining or hearing similar musical phenomena. This mini-course hopes to help bridge the divide, offering those of us who want to engage in cross-over study, pedagogy, and even performance some tools and knowledge to do so with sensitivity, awareness, and, of course, a sense of style.
“The Theory Learning Community concluded that chromaticism, voice-leading, Universal Harmonic Nomenclature, Modes, and Terminology to express analogues within Classical and Jazz theory usage, are quintessential elements to bridging the conceptual and pedagogical differences between the two equal disciplines.
Musical and compositional vehicles identified as excellent teaching material to address these issues are Chopin’s works, the many standard variations of the jazz blues progression, Bach inventions, and the original published lead sheets of popular jazz standards. Additionally, classical or Western European Art Music theory specialists would benefit from attending some of the jazz theory class sessions.
The material we were able to get through the budget allowance very nicely provides insight into pedagogical, harmonic, and performance practices used in both jazz and classical music as well as addressing all the key elements mentioned above.”
Chairs: Steve Stone and Andrea Westcot
In this learning community, past, present, and future online teachers discuss online courses from the pedagogical details (What is the most effective way to structure an assignment? What new challenges do we face with an asynchronous structure?) to the societal impact (What is the desired role of online degree programs? How will they impact higher education?). Through book, journal, and news readings and through discussions of personal experiences, we will improve our teaching while influencing the future of the online program at Peabody.
“In the Online Teaching and Learning FLC, a diverse group of faculty (from across departments, and also with varying experiences in online teaching) discussed theory and practices in online pedagogy. We centered our discussions on two books. Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning, by Peter Brown, Henry Roediger, and Mark McDaniel, inspired an ongoing conversation about how best to define quality learning, and how to create online class experiences that enable that learning. Small Teaching Online: Applying Learning Science in Online Classes, by Flower Darby and James Lang, offered a more pragmatic approach, and we will continue to explore these best practices in online classes. The group will transform our learning into practical resources for the Peabody community as Peabody continues to build its online learning offerings.”
After a successful abbreviated pilot in the Spring 2022 semester, the Peabody Learning Communities will officially continue into their first full inaugural year. If you are interested in co-Chairing or participating in a Learning Community in the first full-year incarnation of the initiative from September 2022 to May 2023, submit a proposal or contact Valerie Hartman and Joe Montcalmo to discuss your ideas.
Proposals and registration are now open.