What is a Teaching Circle?
A group of W faculty, consisting of a least five and no more than ten people, interested in talking about or working on some aspect of teaching and/or student learning.
What can you do in a Teaching Circle?
Just about anything you wish, so long as it is related to improving teaching and learning. For example, some groups might focus on interdisciplinary work, e.g. Women’s Studies, African Studies, methods to encourage interdisciplinary undergraduate research. Others may focus on a single academic discipline, e.g. Culinary Arts faculty sharing materials and ideas they’ve developed for their own classes. Some groups may explore relatively narrow topics, e.g. incorporating service learning projects, using case-study teaching techniques, or sharing strategies to encourage class discussion. Other circles may select broader topics, e.g. teaching and technology, strategies for surviving the first few years on the tenure track, or current topics in higher education. Proposals for circles that involve exploring ways to integrate active learning strategies into the curriculum are especially encouraged.
As you can tell, Teaching Circle topics are limited only by your needs and imagination. The important thing is that faculty come together to talk, exchange ideas, and work with each other to become better teachers, whether this concerns the substance of their courses or their pedagogical methods.
How Do Teaching Circles Go About Exploring Teaching/Learning Issues?
Teaching Circle meetings can take a variety of forms to stimulate conversation and help faculty investigate teaching/learning issues. Teaching Circle members may make use of one or more method for sharing knowledge over the course of the year, including, but not limited to:
- Guided Discussion: Members come prepared to discuss an item (article, chapter, video, etc.) or issue selected by the group.
- Round-robins: Members share personal experience and knowledge on a topic of interest to the group.
- Ask the expert: An “expert” (or expert panel) is invited to share insights on a topic.This can include an outside guest speaker or bringing in experts from across our own campus.
- “Progress” reports: Members report on experiments they’ve conducted with new ways of teaching. This can be especially helpful as a support mechanism while trying a new teaching style or project.
- Peer Tutoring: Members of the group take responsibility for learning different aspects of the topic being explored by the group. At each session, one or two members report back on the material they’ve researched.
- Open discussion: Meetings can be occasions for informal conversations about teaching and learning. There’s no set agenda. Participants bring in issues, questions, topics that are of interest to them.
How to form and maintain a Teaching Circle
- Teaching Circles can be formed at any time during the academic year, though if internal grant money is desired then the Teaching Circle must be formed and grant request submitted by October 15.
- All teaching faculty may participate in Teaching Circles: full-time, part-time, visiting, adjunct, tenured or tenure-track faculty are all welcome. Staff members may be invited to participate in a Teaching Circle if deemed appropriate by the faculty members of the circle.
- Members of a Teaching Circle may come from a single discipline or may be interdisciplinary.
- Each Teaching Circle should designate a chair. The chair will submit a brief, 1-2 page annual report detailing when the Teaching Circle met, attendance at those meetings, and summarizing the group’s work. If a Teaching Circle is awarded grant funds then the chair must also include an expense report accounting for the use of those funds. The annual report is due by May 30 and should be submitted to the Director of the Kossen Center for Teaching & Learning.
- A Teaching Circle may exist for a single academic year or be renewed annually for multiple years depending on the needs and availability of its members.
To form a new Teaching Circle or renew an existing one, please complete this application form.
Is any support available?
Yes! The staff of the Kossen Center for Teaching & Learning is always available to help Teaching Circles with their pedagogical or technological questions. We may also be able to recommend reading materials or other resources related to your Teaching Circle’s topical focus.
Teaching Circles may also apply for small grants of up to $500 to support their work. These grants are intended to supply reading materials, software, technology, classroom supplies, guest speaker fees, local travel, or other expenses necessary for the work of the Teaching Circle. Grant monies are not to be used for providing refreshments at meetings. If there are more requests than we have money to fund, then the Director will call upon the Kossen Center for Teaching & Learning Advisory Committee to review the proposals and make recommendations.
To apply for funding, please complete this application form.
Is there a deadline for creating a Teaching Circle?
Teaching Circles may be formed at any time during the year. However, if grant money is requested then the Teaching Circle must be formed and a grant request submitted by October 15.