Advice for New (from Not-So-New) Faculty

The start of the academic year brings several thousand new Hoyas to the Hilltop, but not all of them are students!

As part of New Faculty Orientation, CNDLS spoke with ten experienced Georgetown faculty—Nathan Hensley (English), Leslie Hinkson (Sociology), Theresa Keeley (SFS), Jason Tilan (Nursing), Matthew Pavesich (English), Lahra Smith (SFS), Dennis Williams (English), Yulia Chentsova Dutton (Psychology), Jennifer Fink (English), and Huaping Lu-Adler (Philosophy)—about advice for their newest peers. You can watch the full video here, or check out a few highlights below the break.

Whether you’ve been on the faculty for two weeks or two decades, we’re glad you’re here and we’re here to help. Reach out at any time with questions or concerns about teaching at Georgetown, and happy first day of classes!

About teaching at Georgetown:

“On the one hand, take our students as seriously as they take themselves. I would also say that we should try to balance that with the effort to have fun in class, and to have as much fun in front of them as we hope they would have in our classes.”

“You need to be able to tell students that ‘I tried this in this classroom and it didn’t really work, and so now I’m trying this.’ That’s modeling for them something that they, too, need to try to do a little more, which is to be creative with their own learning process.”

“Give yourself a lot of time to figure out what kind of professor want to be and what kind of professor you can be. That’s the beauty of teaching a new batch of students each semester—you can change your persona.”

About students at Georgetown:

“There’s something distinctive about Georgetown students… a really interesting and productive combination of a zeal to succeed and a certain amount of caution about the parameters in which that success can happen. What I find myself trying to do is to create safe zones for risk taking and innovation.”

“I would say that almost every semester I have at least one students who is unable to buy the texts in my class. That is not the typical experience, but it’s not uncommon—there is hidden poverty here.”

“Students are just incredibly busy because they’re here in the Capitol, they’re doing internships, volunteer projects… so their schedule is packed in a way that I haven’t seen many other places, and in a way that wasn’t true for me and my peers when I was in college. When you teach these students, it’s helpful to remember that this is the reality of their day to day lives.”

“Our students very specifically equate their work and success and their grades on the same level, and I think it’s because they haven’t often been offered another way to think about what success means. In our classes, we can try to offer alternate visions of success.”

And, of course, about logistics:

“Be brave and have fun, and make sure the AV cabinet is unlocked.”