Classroom Culture

What do we value? Why is it important? How will we enact it?
As a professor, I value you first and foremost as human beings, and second as students. This is important to me because I know the best learning can only happen if the entire being is well, and feels respected. I will trust you all as a matter of course to do all the work, I will be honest with you, and I will believe you.
We welcome each person’s acknowledgement that they have been emotionally affected by the course material. This is important to us because we know that course materials have embedded perspectives like anything else, they are not purely “objective” and can affect people in different ways. We want to give space for people to talk about how they are affected by a reading as a function of class, and as receivers of this information we will take it into account during our discussions and be mindful with one another.
We trust experience as a kind of knowledge. Similar to the previous section, learning and classrooms are not purely intellectual enterprises, they are informed by our lives, and that is equally as important. We will acknowledge or engage with experiential knowledge as valid, but also as not completely idiosyncratic, and itself embedded in histories, communities, places, cultures, and trauma.
We value non-performativity in the classroom space. This is important to us because performativity in the classroom can be painful and uncomfortable – to and for everyone and because that kind of performativity enacts – on several levels – a conscious disengagement with each other, the material, and our conversations. We will not presume that you have to have a fully formed thought in order to contribute to a conversation. We will welcome all kinds of questions in general, and allowing ourselves not to understand something fully. We will be honest about our processes of thought and how we arrived at a thought rather than forcing ourselves to present an argument if we are not there yet.
We value a circle of trust. It is important to us to be mindful of others even when they are not in the same room. We will not gossip about one another. When sharing  what impacts us from class in another context we will use our own perspective, and not other folks’ experiences when outside of class. When in doubt about whether something is fair to share elsewhere, we will check in with each other.
In our class, we have no expectation of conformity or consensus. This is important to us in part because it’s not honest. When you are not expected to conform you experience of the course materials will be broader, and disagreement will inevitably expand our conversations and understandings. This also ties back to our valuing non-performativity. We will do our best to avoid re-stating points someone else has already said and we will always try to further the conversation rather than forcing a consensus.
We value acknowledging or verbalizing what we think is implicit. This is a way of acknowledging that we come to readings and thinking from a subject position, and as a way of opening up the space of the sayable. We are going to try our best to say how we arrived at a thought. We will also explicitly say that something is valid – especially when we are responding to experiential knowledge.
Forgiveness + patience We are human beings, we make mistakes, we are imperfect. We will not change that. If we all value forgiveness and patience, it allows people to be more authentic and vulnerable. In the case that there are hurts during the course of our conversations, the person who has been hurt has the choice to offer grace and acceptance, but we are asking the forgivee to offer a sincere apology and reflection on the harm they have caused when the hurt has come to their attention.
We will be conscious of how much space we are taking up. This is important because everyone’s voice deserves space in the conversation and there is finite space (only 3 hrs!). We will be mindful of one another.

The professor will keep watch.

We will allow others to speak, and not talk over people. We will let someone finish their thought before jumping in. We will look out for non-verbal cues of folks who might need a little space clearing.