Name: Breanne Lott
Year(s) in CIRTL: 2021-2022
Current Position: Assistant Professor of Social Behavioral Sciences, Department of Epidemiology & Population Health, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx NY
How did your CIRTL experience impact your job search or current position?
I was on the academic job market while participating in the CIRTL program and it was tremendously helpful in a few ways. First, it gave me an opportunity to add a current teaching experience and certification to my CV, which was quite research heavy. Second, it helped me to develop my own teaching philosophy that was informed by evidence-based teaching practices and resources like the book “The Spark of Learning”. I was able to use pedagogy lingo in a meaningful way, both in my prepared teaching statement as part of my application materials and during interviews when asked about my teaching style. While figuring out what type of an academic institution and position would be the best fit for me, I applied to a wide range of opportunities at small liberal arts colleges and large research-intensive universities.
My CIRTL experience came up in every single one of the 10 first-round and 5 second-round interviews I had that year.
What is your favorite teaching practice or tip?
One take-away that sticks with me is the importance of sparking curiosity in learners and different approaches to effectively doing so. Sometimes presenting them with a puzzle, asking them to hypothesize about a topic and not providing the correct answer until the next class period, or even using a little “shock and awe” storytelling can evoke strong feelings which activate and prime their brains to engage with the content deeply. Just last week I was teaching medical students about randomized controlled trials in an epidemiology course and I used this technique by subjecting them to a playful RCT that they didn’t know they were in until the end of the activity. The surprise when I announced their participation brought audible laughter to the room and hands shot up when I asked them to discuss characteristics of RCT study design.
Is there anything you want graduate students or postdoctoral fellows considering CIRTL program to know?
Do it! And be really mindful about identifying a co-teaching mentor that you aspire to be like. I was fortunate to teach alongside Dr. Laura Gronewold, who is an expert in building classroom community, promoting a growth mindset in her students, and bringing a social justice perspective to her teaching. We set big goals for our semester together, such as advancing our anti-racist pedagogy, and her example and feedback on my teaching were central to my positive CIRTL experience.