The following sections are designed to help you develop and enhance your skills as an educator.

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Before the Semester Begins

Clarifying Expectations

You need to know who is responsible for what and how much of the “what” falls to you. It is essential to clarify with your faculty instructor the following:

  • Course requirements

  • Attendance policies

  • Administrative duties

  • Office hours

  • Grading protocol and standards (e.g. letter grade, pass/fail, comments only, grading in pencil, expectations for student writing ability) and the expected range of grades

  • The kind of problems you are expected to resolve and the kind you should refer to the instructor or someone else

  • Academic honesty — Make sure you understand Brandeis’ policies as explained in the current Rights and Responsibilities handbook and know what to do if and when you encounter academic dishonesty or questionable practices.

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Professional Conduct

Open communication is one key to a positive teaching experience, but at the same time, you must also set boundaries. Your attitude and demeanor reflect your respect for yourself, your subject, and your students.

  • Recognize and respect students as individuals.

  • Learn students' names and how to pronounce them correctly. LATTE enables you to see pictures of each student on your class roster. Even if you do not integrate LATTE into your pedagogy, the roster function is extremely valuable in helping you to establish classroom rapport.

  • Be enthusiastic. Show your interest in the subject and demonstrate your commitment to teaching.

  • Maintain eye contact with students while speaking.

  • Learn to use and understand nonverbal language. Even small, seemingly insignificant actions or gestures may be misconstrued.

  • Establish a rapport with your students. Be concerned, but draw a clear line between professional and personal involvement. Conflicts of interest could jeopardize your academic and professional standing.

  • If you find yourself in a difficult situation, discuss it frankly with the faculty instructor or your faculty advisor. Strive to be evenhanded and even­tempered in your interactions with all students.

  • Differentiate yourself from your students. Dress and act in an appropriate and professional manner.

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Non­Discrimination and Harassment

Brandeis University is committed to providing its students, faculty, and staff with an educational and work environment in which all people are treated with respect and dignity. Each person has the right to work and be educated in an atmosphere free from discrimination and harassment on the basis of race, color, ancestry, religious creed, national or ethnic origin, sexual identity, sexual orientation, age, genetic information, disability, or military experience (qualified disabled veteran or other eligible veteran status).

It is the responsibility of every member of the Brandeis community to give full support to our harassment policy. Brandeis requires reporting of perceived discrimination or harassment; it is the policy of Brandeis to investigate such reports. Any graduate student with teaching responsibilities who becomes aware that a student, faculty, or staff member believes that s/he has been subject to discrimination or harassment will advise that person to contact the Associate Vice President of Human Resources/Affirmative Action Officer, and must do so themselves. A full copy of the University’s policy statement on non-discrimination, academic honesty, and harassment is available in the Rights and Responsibilities handbook.

If you feel that a student has been sexually harassed, you must act! Any faculty member, employee, or student who sexually harasses a member of the University is subject to disciplinary action, up to and including termination of employment or dismissal from the University. The following resources are available on campus:

  • Associate Vice President of Human Resources/Affirmative Action Officer: to receive confidential advice or to file informal or formal complaints against faculty, TFs, students, administrators or staff, call x6-4464.

  • Office of Prevention Services: to receive confidential advice or to file informal or formal complaints against faculty, TFs, students, administrators or staff, call x6-3626. This Office oversees the Rape Crisis Center, which offers counseling, education and advocacy, call x6-3370.

  • Graduate Student Affairs: for advice, call Jessica Basile, Director of Graduate Student Affairs, x6-3547.

  • Brandeis Rape Crisis Hotline: to speak with student counselors on call from 10:00 pm to 2:00 am, x6-TALK.

  • Public Safety (Campus Police) Emergency: available 24 hours, x6-3333 Psychological Counseling Center, x6-3730

  • Student Sexuality Information Service, x6-3695

Confronting sexual harassment may be uncomfortable but you must act:

  • Take the issue seriously—Brandeis policy is zero tolerance.

  • Provide support to anyone who is experiencing sexual harassment or assault.

  • Do not tolerate sexual and sexist remarks about any person or group.

  • Discuss the problem of sexual harassment and educate others.

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Gender

Include all people in general references by substituting gender-neutral words and phrases for "man" words.

  • Refer to women and men equally and make references consistent.

  • Avoid using "man" or "woman" as a suffix or prefix in job titles.

  • Grant equal respect to women and men.

  • Base your communication on pertinent qualities, not gender.

  • Studies show that men tend to dominate classroom discussion time.

  • Be aware of this and strive for balance.

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Race and Ethnicity

Be aware of words, images, and situations implying that members of a racial or ethnic group are the same.

  • Avoid using qualifiers that reinforce racial and ethnic stereotypes.

  • Avoid using ethnic clichés. Keep an open mind. Do not assume that some students are athletes, on financial aid, or unprepared.

  • Be aware of language that carries questionable racial or ethnic connotations.

  • Do not ignore potentially offensive remarks made in class—it is your obligation to deal with these.

  • Avoid patronizing and tokenism with regard to any racial or ethnic group.

  • Recognize that some students feel uncomfortable in the college classroom. Lack of participation does not always indicate lack of interest.

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Students with Disabilities

Brandeis University is committed to providing an environment that is equitable and accessible to all qualified students with documented physical, learning, or psychological disabilities. Once accepted, a student must document their disability to receive reasonable accommodations. If a student notifies you of a disability, please speak with your course professor so that appropriate actions can be taken. The professor will likely request a copy of the official academic accommodation letter from Disabilities Services.

Disabilities Services will specify the accommodations required in the individual case; other accommodations may not be appropriate. It is the student’s obligation to obtain this letter. A letter from a physician testifying to a student’s disability is not an acceptable substitute. Once the student does present such a letter, the accommodations specified are mandated. If you have questions, contact Beth Rodgers­-Kay at 781-736-­­3470.

While teaching, be sure to:

  • Separate the person from the disability.

  • Respect that persons with disabilities have rights; avoid addressing their needs in front of other students.

  • Treat the person with a disability as someone with a full range of skills and abilities.

  • Avoid making assumptions regarding the preferences, wishes, or attributes of a person with disabilities.

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What is Title IX?

Title IX is a federal law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex, “No person in the United States shall on the basis of sex be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any educational program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.”

Under Title IX, anyone with teaching responsibilities (i.e. faculty members, TF/CAs, UWS instructors, and/or teaching assistants) are considered responsible reporters. Responsible reporters are considered helping professionals who could reasonably know how to help a student who has experienced an incident of sexual assault, dating violence, stalking, or sexual harassment. In­person training will be provided to TFs and CAs to fulfill this responsibility. There are three basic steps to remember:

  1. Listen... If a student discloses a past assault, allow him or her to tell you what they want you to know.

  2. Engage with Empathy... You don’t need to worry about fact­finding; express care & concern for the student

  3. Report... Notify your Brandeis professional staff supervisor and also be sure to contact the Brandeis University Title IX Coordinator, Linda Shinomoto. She can be reached at 781-736 ­4456 or shinomot@brandeis.edu.

Nine Things to Know Under Title IX*

  1. Title IX is a landmark federal civil right that prohibits sex discrimination in education. Title IX is not just about sports; it is a prohibition against sex­based discrimination in education. It also addresses gender­based discrimination and sexual violence. Sexual violence includes attempted or completed rape or sexual assault, as well as sexual harassment, stalking, voyeurism, exhibitionism, verbal or physical sexuality­based threats or abuse, and intimate partner violence.

  2. Title IX does not apply to female students only. Title IX protects any person from sex­based discrimination.

  3. Schools must be proactive in ensuring that your campus is free of sex discrimination.

  4. Schools must have an established procedure for handling complaints of sex discrimination, sexual harassment or sexual violence.

  5. Schools must take immediate action to ensure a complainant­victim can continue his or her education free of ongoing sex discrimination, sexual harassment or sexual violence.

  6. Schools may not retaliate against someone filing a complaint and must keep a complainant­victim safe from other retaliatory harassment or behavior.

  7. Schools can issue a no contact directive under Title IX to prevent the accused student from approaching or interacting with you.

  8. In cases of sexual violence, schools are prohibited from encouraging or allowing mediation (rather than a formal hearing) of the complaint.

  9. Schools cannot discourage you from continuing your education. Title IX is a positive right to be free of a hostile environment in order to protect your access to education. 

*Source: knowyourix.org