By Gwyneth Talley, Chris Elias, Isabel Müller, Noura Wahby, Adam Marple, Rim Chérif, Duaa Dakhlallah, Jonathan Harvey, Nadine El Sayed, Nour Zaki, and Nabil Mohareb
CLT asked faculty who joined AUC in the past two years to give us fresh insights about their experience at AUC, and we are sharing their tips for new (and continuing!) faculty in Fall 2022. This is what each of them said:
Gwyneth Talley (SEA)
- Be generous with yourself. You don’t have to do everything the first semester/year.
- Take advantage of the Arabic tutoring/scholarship program.
Chris Elias (History)
- If you can, locate and visit your classrooms before the first day of class. Campus can be labyrinthine and so it helps to know where you’re going before the first morning.
- Don’t be shocked if you have a significant amount of students missing on your first day of class; some (incorrectly) regard the first week as optional because it’s during an add/drop period. Sending an email to your students before the first class reminding them attendance is required during the first week might help cut down on absences.
Isabel Müller (Mathematic & Actuarial Science)
- Build a good network with all incoming new faculty, it is worth gold for all questions regarding daily life on and off campus.
- Attend CLT workshops, their people are the best!
- You probably already will have to do advising in the first term, ask for help early on to familiarize yourself with the AUC schedules and procedures to not be overwhelmed when it comes in.
- Always publish your grades some day on blackboard for some days before you enter them into the system, as the procedure to change them afterwards is complicated.
- For the spring term, when Ramadan will happen [where scheduling changes due to fasting], try to get early classes so as to not have to come back at night for postponed classes.
- Don’t forget your self-care! Settling into a new environment within a new system can feel overwhelming at times, be gentle with yourself and don’t forget to take breaks and set working hours.
- Join the Community Engagement Trips – no better way to meet AUCians and discover the beauty Egypt has to offer.
Noura Wahby (Public Policy & Administration)
- CLT consultations are your best friend! In addition to the trainings, but also book private consultations and mid-term assessments which will be very useful to help you reflect on the whole teaching process as the term progresses.
- Be kind to yourself and your students…we are still getting used to being back on campus and everyone is still living in the COVID aftermath in different ways. Social anxiety has increased so having different options for how students’ interact with each other and the professor is really useful.
- Enrolling in the AUC mentorship program as having an in-department mentor really helps understand the main areas of putting your energy from the start. Remember you are not expected to contribute to service at least in the first year, so use that time to spend on teaching, developing partnerships and new research avenues.
Adam Marple (ARTS)
- The school of HUSS offers Psychological Counseling. Use it.
- CLT is great. You may think “This doesn’t really apply to me and my program” but there will be a moment when you have a question that no one can answer, and CLT will have that answer and will help you out quicker than anyone else.
- Depending on your contract, you don’t have to do it all in your first year. Some will be on a shorter contract and will need to establish themselves and stand-out. But if you have a longer contract take time to be in observation mode. Things are done differently here and instead of beating your head against the wall wishing everyone would change, take the time to let yourself change.
- An Egyptian friend told me “The best way to live in Cairo is to leave Cairo”. Plan as many trips out of the city as you can. By car/van/bus: Ain Sokhna (a beach) is about an hour away. Alexandria, about 2 hours away. Hurghada/El Gouna, about 5 hours away. The White Desert, 8 hours. Sinai and Dahab, about 9 hours. They are all stunning and you will recharge everything you spend in Cairo. Plus, we’re so close to Europe, the rest of MENA, and beyond.
- Everything is run via whatsapp, don’t look for a website, it doesn’t exist.
- Find “the guy”. The guy knows the answer, who to call, how much it’s supposed to cost, who really to ask, and how to bypass the byzantine system. This person will become your best friend, life saver, and all around fixer. They will be a real estate broker, driver, sales associate, and google. They will have “wasta” or juice.
- Students try to negotiate their grades, especially with new faculty. Not all of them, but enough to make you jaded. Don’t focus on that, focus on the amazing, curious, and enthusiastic students who are here to learn.
Rim Chérif (Management – Finance)
- It is important for the first year to be in observation mode, to participate with all AUC stakeholders in activities that you deem relevant, and to be open to discussion. This will allow you to make better decisions, contribute effectively and bring innovative ideas.
- Participation in CLT workshops is strongly recommended for several reasons: 1-learning from past experiences and optimizing your decisions; 2- socializing and 3- effectively preparing your teaching portfolio.
- As for students, their own learning needs and goals must be addressed without compromising on the course content or planned teaching activities 😉
Duaa Dakhlallah (Institute of Global Health)
- Try to attend CLT workshops, they are very helpful. Try to get engaged and ask for consultations and advice.
- Don’t hesitate to shadow older colleagues who are teaching the same course or similar ones to be familiar with the environment and culture.
- Offer many anonymous assessments/polls for the students after a major project/ exam to hear their voice and feedback through the semester and try to discuss [raised issues/concerns] in class briefly.
- Engage the students as much as you can with discussions and group assignments to create healthy dynamic communications.
- Ask for tutoring on Blackboard and other softwares offered by AUC when needed [using the Student Technology Assistant (STA) program].
Jonathan Harvey (Rhetoric and Composition)
- If possible, get to know the students by name as quickly as you can. Share something about yourself and allow them to do the same with you and the class.
- Get them to make and upload a short self-intro video on blackboard. Ask students to leave comments in response to the intro videos (you can comment too) – you can award some of the participation grade for this.
- If you talk with a student about his/her work being late or absences etc., make sure you follow this up with an email to that student outlining what was said and what you agreed on.
- Try to enjoy yourself and make the class fun where you can. The students will respond to this and they like to laugh.
Nadine El Sayed (Journalism and Mass Communication)
- Ask colleagues for advice: Find your support network early on. Find two or three colleagues from your department who are willing to give you advice or guidance on your first year to navigate the peculiarities of AUC, in terms of who to go to for what, administrative stuff and so on.
- Get the help of CLT! They’re a great asset and can give customized advice to your particular course.
- Ask students early on in the course about specific accommodations and how you can best help them find the most effective method for assessment, participation and so on. There are many students who are too shy to present their letters of accommodation, for instance, and end up struggling.
Nour Zaki (Psychology)
- Make time to build rapport with your students at the beginning of the semester. It reflects on their course experience and enjoyment of the learning process.
- Mid-semester assessments [offered by CLT] are very useful to know what’s working and what needs to change before the semester ends.
- Attend CLT workshops and ask for consultations whenever needed, working on your professional development will go a long way in your teaching practices.
- AUC has wonderful facilities – explore the campus and the different services you have access to!
Nabil Mohareb (Architecture)
- Try to quickly establish a rapport with your new surroundings to enjoy working with your wonderful students, the campus, and your co-workers.
- Aside from your office and classrooms, there are nice quiet places on campus: get out of your comfort zone frequently.
I do not know if the above tips are useful, but they helped me.