The Work Matters

A Guide for New Faculty Teaching at City Tech


The Living Lab…represents a vision of City Tech itself, if not yet fully in reality, then certainly in possibility. As a student in the City Tech of possibility, as in the lab:

  • You start with questions.
  • You collaborate with a team and have a role and responsibilities.
  • You analyze evidence.
  • You keep a record of your work and reflect on it.
  • Through your observations of the concrete, you deepen and complicate your understanding of theory.
  • Your understanding of theory makes possible real world applications.
  • You know there is more than one way to solve a problem. And often more than one right answer.
  • You expect change.
  • You make room for serendipity.
  • You get to make mistakes and see their consequences.
  • You get to try again. And again.
  • You work to connect the disparate pieces that you experience into a meaningful, protean whole.

Bonne August, Provost September 2011 Nucleus: A Faculty Commons Quarterly Volume 3 – Issue 1

Teaching Your Course

Ground Rules and Expectations

Structure in the classroom begins with ground rules and expectations. Quoting Kent (2011):

  • Let’s turn off digital devices and engage each other
  • I expect rigor in oral and written work
  • Papers are due on the day they are due
  • Papers get evaluated meticulously
  • Papers are handed back the next period
  • Interviews for those with problematic work are mandatory
  • At the end of each week, students get a short message summing up the week’s work and pointing out what we will be doing the next week (Kent, 2011, p. 137).


Know Your Students

Volk (2011) recommends setting the tone of your course by letting students know that they are welcomed in your course:

  • Read the roster out loud to yourself
  • Sound out names that are unfamiliar and take note of stumbles
  • Speaking the name helps attach them to faces
    • A student who know she or he will be called on by name feels accountable to the instructor and the class


Preparing the Class Session

Each class session demands preparation. Structure “comes about through thorough planning and organization” (Reed, 2002). Write out a plan for the time allotted that includes the material that needs to be covered, and what method you will use to cover it. For example, here are the headings for a chart, and a sample first line.


Managing the Classroom

You are in the position of authority, which students have been trained to understand since they started school. There is an expectation as a result that students should be quiet and passive to listen to the “expert.” Yet to engage learners, there is a need for them to participate in concert with your direction. Maintaining order (authority) and managing interaction (ceding authority) are handled by:


Fostering Learning Through Interaction

Adsit (2011) provides tips for lectures that are engaging, informative and participatory.

Audience Engagement and Interactivity
Audience attention wanes after 12-20 minutes. Design your class sessions with “activity breaks” to allow your students to process, review and apply the material that you present.

You might:

  • Ask a question or pose a problem to be solved individually
  • Have students work in pairs or trios on a problem or discuss a question
  • Use a video or film clip to illustrate the topic
  • Present a case study for discussion


Using Visual Teaching for Learning

Images are everywhere: “Visual information fills the screens, pages, and spaces that surround us through the day. Research into human learning demonstrates the power of these visuals in shaping our understanding of the world. Not only do people process images more quickly than text, we tend to rely on our visual experience even when it contradicts our conceptual knowledge of a topic” (Hoffman, 1998, quoted by Little and Felten, 2010, p. 5).


Fostering Class Discussion

Principles of good discussion (#35), as specified by Brookfield and Presskill (2007), are to be used under the following appropriate conditions:

  • When multiple perspectives on content are possible
  • When applications of content to real life settings are being considered
  • When students already have grasped the essentials or basics of what is being discussed, the ‘grammar’ of the activity
  • When there is a genuine openness about where the discussion might lead.


Dreyfuss, A.E., Jordan, J., Rajaram, K., Caka, M. (2014). (2nd Ed.). The work matters:
A guide for new faculty teaching at City Tech. New York City College of Technology, CUNY.
Online at

Faculty Commons

The Work Matters: A guide for new faculty teaching at City Tech. New York City College of Technology, CUNY by A.E. Dreyfuss is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.