Inclusion, Community, and Support

The Center for Teaching Excellence and Innovation (CTEI) is proud to offer faculty opportunities to support teaching and scholarship, rooted in the principles of inclusion, community and support. CTEI is committed to partnering with faculty and staff to create a strong, productive community of engaged learners, which will ultimately support student success in the classroom.


Spring 2023

April 19, 2023
“Building Brave Spaces”

Respectful, compassionate, and empathetic conversations in classes that focus on issue of power, privilege, and marginalized identities, can be hard. Based on their work in student affairs, Arao and Clemens (2013) argued that meaningful and transformative social justice dialogues need to move away “safe spaces” (educators cannot guarantee safety and comfort) and into “brave spaces.” “Brave spaces” are more realistic in DEIJ courses as discomfort is expected and shared as the effects of systemic oppression is challenged.
Mala Matacin (Department of Psychology, A&S) and students from her University honors seminar—"Crip, Queer, and Fat: The Intersectionality of Bodies” will be presenting their work on their lived experience of creating and learning in a “brave space” classroom using photovoice, a participatory action research methodology.

Video:  Building Safe Spaces

Fostering Student Success through Belonging: A Teaching and Learning Collaborative

February 10th, 9 a.m.–1:20 p.m., Zoom

GSU North/South Cafeterias

The teaching and learning collaborative is an opportunity for university faculty colleagues to gather together to learn, share, and inspire each other. The gathering will focus on creating opportunities for student belonging, which research has shown increases student success. The day will include an interactive workshop, a choice of a faculty-led panel discussion, a lunch with university colleagues, and a poster session.

Video: Fostering Student Success through Belonging: A Teaching and Learning Collaborative

Resources: Strengths-Based approaches to Teaching and Learning: Portals to Connections (PDF)

Discovering Your Students' Strengths: Tips to Create Belonging in Your Classroom

January 18th, 1–1:45, Zoom

A discussion with EB Caron, Shivangi Nangia, Julie Sochacki, Gail Syring, and Amanda Walling.

Are you looking for new, straightforward methods to begin your semester that will make a positive impact in the classroom? If so, join us for a conversation in which a group of faculty share the different ways that they start the semester by immediately identifying their students’ strengths. They will give tangible examples of the methods that they use and how these methods impact the experiences of the learners in the classroom.

Video: Discovering Your Students' Strengths: Tips to Create Belonging in Your Classroom

Creating a Welcoming Syllabus for All Students

Friday, August 19, 2022

12:45–1:45 Zoom

Co Facilitated with the College of Arts & Sciences

In this panel discussion, faculty will share insights and inspiration regarding inclusive syllabi creation. The panelists will answer questions such as:

  • What advice would you give to faculty who want to easily revise their syllabi to make it more welcoming?
  • How has a welcoming syllabus transformed your classroom?
  • What are some other ways that you build community in your classroom that stem from your welcoming syllabus?
  • Is there anything you do to engage students in your course and syllabus before the first day of class?


Kristen Comeforo

Nat DuFord

Nathan R. DuFord is an assistant professor of philosophy at University of Hartford. They're the author of Solidarity in Conflict (Stanford UP, 2022). They teach and research social philosophy, feminist and queer theory, and radical political thought.

Laura Enzor

Margaret Tarampi

Patrick Allen

Patrick Allen’s association with the University of Hartford dates back to 1989 when began work as a Manager of Training and Human Resources at the University until 1997 when he left to pursue a 25-year teaching career in public schools as an elementary and middle-school teacher.

In addition to being a classroom teacher and team-leader for all of these years, Patrick also created professional development workshops, teaching teachers in the district. He is also proud to have been named his school district’s Teacher of the Year. Patrick is thrilled to be back at UH teaching UISS courses, working with college-aged students and considers his career in education has come full circle!

Video: Creating a Welcoming Syllabus for all Students

Fall 2022 Three-Part Series: Inclusive Teaching Practices

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

12:45–1:45, Zoom

(1) Unpacking Inclusive Teaching and Learning: A Panel

The feedback from the Friday, August 19, 2022, Learn@Lunch session entitled How to Create a Welcoming Syllabus for All Students included follow-up questions for the panelists. CTEI is delighted to welcome the panelists back for round two of sharing inclusive teaching practices. This session will set the foundation for our three-part inclusive teaching series, primarily unpacking what inclusive teaching looks like in practice. Please email your questions for panelists to Julie Sochacki @

Video: Inclusive Teaching Panel

(2) How to Scaffold a Major Assessment

Monday, October 17, 2022

12:45–1:45, Zoom

One of the most empowering and compassionate practices that we can integrate into our classrooms is scaffolding, an instructional strategy that provides students with a framework to guide and support their learning. Scaffolding can offer a weekly structure that supports student growth, creates autonomous learners who are responsible for their own learning, and gives learners more confidence in acquiring new skills. Through Mehmet Dede and Julie Sochacki’s collaboration, they co-authored an article, “Scaffolding as a Roadmap: Guiding and Supporting Student Learning” and wish to share their experiences in the classroom.

Video: How to Scaffold a Major Assessment

(3) Active Learning in the STEM Classroom

Monday, October 24, 2022

12:45–1:45, Zoom

This workshop is an introduction to integrating and incorporating active learning strategies into your STEM courses such as cooperative group activities ("jigsaw"), flipping the classroom, and activities to enhance critical thinking skills and active reading. The results of several research studies show that underrepresented students in active-learning classrooms experience narrower achievement gaps than underrepresented students in traditional lecturing classrooms, averaged across all science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields and courses.

Video: Active Learning in the Stem Classroom

CTEI-Sponsored Faculty Learning Communities

Faculty Writing Community

The Faculty Writing Community will enhance scholarly productivity by helping faculty carve out a block of time for projects that would otherwise have been sidelined by other commitments. This community meets in person in the CTEI space, Creative Technology Center, in the lower level of the Harrison Libraries and will provide accountability, social support, and feedback. Participants bring their laptop and/or whatever else they need to work. Open to all faculty from 9:30–noon on Fridays. 

Margaret Tarampi

Julie Sochacki

Faculty Learning Community for Faculty Who Teach 100-Level Courses

CTEI is thrilled to announce a collaborative opportunity for faculty who teach 100-level courses. Led by Cindy Thomas-Charles (A&S--BIO) and Patrick Allen (UIS), the community will offer support, encouragement, and best practices in teaching 100-level courses. The FLC members will meet monthly for lunch and conversation at 12:45 on 9/26, 10/19, 11/7, 12/5. Please submit this form by 9/6 in order to be considered. The first 14 faculty members will be selected.


CTEI Informal Teaching Sessions:

Wednesday, 9/14, 6-7, Zoom, Creative Assessments with Patrick Allen

Wednesday evening sessions are designed for PT  and FT faculty to ask questions and gain support. Just stop in, using the Zoom link provided.

Individual Office hours, by appointment