The Off Contract Issue

Keep up with the ARC

The ARC is Unchained!

In years past, we have offered the Academic Resources Conference (ARC), our yearly instructor training event, on the Wednesday before classes begin each August. This year that's just not going to work. Not only can we not hold a large event in person, we also have a much bigger training need this year. To meet instructor needs, we are "unchaining" the ARC in 2020! We began or ARC events in May with workshops designed to help people get their summer courses devloped in time.  We will also be running "live" events (via Zoom) during the weeks of June 8-12 and August 10-14. We will be offering more workshops throughout the summer as well. Please help us get the word out to instructors of ALL RANKS. The ARC is designed for:

  • Full and part-time faculty
  • Visiting professors
  • New and returning GTA's
  • Staff who also teach classes
  • Student-facing staff such as advisors and student support personnel
  • Departmental support staff
  • Interested others

That is, if you are interested in what the ARC has to offer, the ARC is for you. To see what we have coming up, visit the ARC website:, and sign up for trainings through myTraining. If you do not have myTraining access, please sign up by sending an email to And be sure to join our Facebook group to keep up with news, get access to more trainings, and for chances to win prizes!

June Events

What's coming up in June?

The June ARC events will be held in Zoom during the week of June 8-12.  Each session is 50 minutes long, and they start on the hour, except for workshops which are either 2 or 3 hours long, and are on Fridays only. You can find a comprehensive list of the June events here, or browse them by topic and track here, and you can sign up for them through myTraining, found in the myWSU portal area. What sorts of opportunities are there?

  • Pedagogy help for new instructors and instructors new to online/hybrid teaching
  • Technical help with Blackboard, Panopto, Zoom, and more
  • Test-building and test integrity guidance
  • Accessibility training
  • Library services and resources training
  • Microsoft and Banner training
  • Social activities in the evenings

There really is something for everyone at the June ARC events.  Please join us!

Cocktail Hour

We miss our community

This is the "Off Contract" issue of Teaching Today, so we want to make sure to tell you about all the fun and interesting social events we have coming up in June.  As part of the Academic Resources Conference we will be having a new set of offerings we are calling "Cocktail Hour!" Most Cocktail Hour! events take place from 6:00-6:50pm from June 8-12 (but the murder mystery on the 12th will go to 8:00pm). These are fun, casual events with opportunities to talk about interesting topics, try out new experiences, and even solve a murder mystery if you are lucky enough to get one of the spots on Friday June 12.  All Cocktail Hour! events are free and casual. Bring a cocktail if you want, and of course no alcohol is required. As of now, we have the following Cocktail Hour! events, with more to be announced soon:

  • An all-group discussion about how to serve first year students during this unprecedented fall 2020 term
  • A demostration of online, Zoom-based games with time to play as a group
  • An all-group discussion exploring your ideas about how to create engaging hybrid classes
  • All all-group discussion about the impact of the COVID response on first generation students
  • A karaoke night
  • A murder mystery night

Interested in a Cocktail Hour! event? Sign up NOW (they are in myTraining like all other events). The caps on these are small so we can talk and have fun together.  We will be adding more opportunities, so make sure you are in the Facebook group to hear about updates!

Online Training

But ... what if I can't be there?

We really hope you can come to our June Zoom events. But maybe you can't make the scheduling work, or maybe you need a break.  If you find that you can't attend, or you need to attend sessions that happen to be scheduled at the same time, you will be able to get the same training in an online/on-demand format starting the week after the sessions are offered live. Not all sessions will be available online, and some might take a little longer than a week to get online, but we are working to put as many of our sessions into an online-ready format as possible. If you would like to check for online versions of ARC trainings, simply check the "Search by Topic or Track" page regularly as that is where we will put links to our online versions.

What We Are Reading

Can't we all just chill and read a book?

This was supposed to be the "Off Contract" issue, but it kinda turned out to be the "ARC" issue instead.  So, let's bring it back around to the topic of relaxation, and what's more relaxing to a bunch of university types than reading a book?  Here's what we are reading this summer:

  • Carolyn Speer:  "Honestly, I can't face another COVID or 'fate of higher ed' thing right now, so I've turned to genre fiction. This summer I'm all about the paranormal romance world of Nocturne Falls. It's nice in Nocturne Falls where they celebrate Halloween all year." The Vampire's Mail Order Bride, Book 1 of the Nocturne Falls Series, by Kristen Painter. The book Carolyn is actually reading the The Professor Woos the Witch, Book 4 of the series.
  • Ali Levine: "This is on my list for 'someday' ... when I am no longer reading only textbooks!" Unorthodox: The Scandalous Rejection of my Hasidic Roots by Deborah Feldman.
  • Ginger Williams: "I picked up this book because it's the kind of read you can sit with for 5 minutes or a few hours, and it's a good departure from current events." Along Came a Spider by James Patterson. 
  • Nancy Deyoe: "This book is, in one sense, a travel book, and in another it is a reflection on current politics and culture in the United States." American Harvest: God, Country, and Farming in the Heartland by Marie Mutsuki Mockett. Nancy also recommends Granted by John David Anderson, a book about a fairy that grants wishes as she goes on her first "granting" mission.
  • John Jones: "I just finished reading Stephen King's The Stand, a book I've never read before. It's about survivors of a superflu that wipes out a bit more than 99% of the population. I decided that there was no better book to remind me that, however bad things might seem, they could be worse."
  • Amber Anderson:  One of Amber's suggestions got booted from this issue because it's about work.  Staff never go off contract, but still, that's a no-go!  Here are her others: "I'm reading You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life, which she says, "is a feel-good read you can read a couple of times" by Jen Sincero. She's also reading Death's Acre, a forensic anthropology book about the Tennessee Body Farm by Bill Bass and Jon Jefferson.
  • Kerry Wilks: Kerry also admitted to liking parnormal romances, but her book suggestion is the Master's Apprentice by Oliver Potzch.  It is a retelling of the Faust legend. She also enjoys the Hangman's Daughter series, also by Potzch, about which she says, "The series takes place in Germany during the 17th century. It's got a little of everything: historical fiction, mystery, a bit of the occult thrown in,'s all there! I had never considered a hangman as a profession prior to this and I find it even more intriguing since the author is descended from the protagonist of the novel."