Take the Time to Reflect on Your Group’s Progress at Several Points Along the Way and Celebrate Your Group’s Success

  • Have your goals changed somewhat as you’ve worked together? Was your original goal unrealistic? Are you working at a speed that doesn’t allow you depth or time for reflection? What are you learning and how are you using that new knowledge? What benefits are you gaining? What has been problematic? This kind of discussion often leads to new directions or points out underlying divisions that need to be addressed. If a group member loses interest, can the group shift to accommodate new interests? If not, contact the Reflective Practice Co-director for Cross-disciplinary and Department Teaching Circles, Rachel DeSoto-Jackson (jackson@iup.edu), to see what other groups may be of more interest to the member.

    Cross-Disciplinary Teaching Circle and Department Teaching Circle Example: Attempts to make discussion more productive don’t seem to work. The group talks it over, and decides that since the research and discussion/planning portion of their goal took much of the first semester, there was little time to make changes late in the semester with their particular courses. So they begin to work on their next semester’s syllabi, including more information on discussion and building in more time for it. They set new goals for the second semester. One person in the group will be on sabbatical, but another person wants to join. After discussion, they feel the new person can be brought up to speed by using the bibliography and selected readings, and the group reorients itself.

    End of Year Report

    At the end of the academic year, you will be asked to send a report of the group’s activities to the Reflective Practice Co-director Rachel DeSoto-Jackson (jackson@iup.edu) for Cross-disciplinary and Department Teaching Circles. These reports are posted on the Center for Teaching Excellence website and will help us as we document the accomplishments and growth of the Reflective Practice Teaching Groups. Creating these reports and keeping notes may also be very helpful in your own work: they can become part of a professional portfolio or may assist you in publication: many of our Reflective Practice members have wound up publishing, presenting, or receiving grants related to their work in teaching circles.

    Cross-Disciplinary Teaching Circle Example: After a year of work, the group has an annotated bibliography, has created a variety of assessment techniques for class discussion, and has realized that diversity of all kinds plays an important role. A copy of the annotated bibliography is sent to the Center for Teaching Excellence library of teaching resources and the final report is put on the web site. The Teaching Circle is asked to do a large group presentation on assessing discussion, and also winds up presenting its work at a national conference. The members reconstitute themselves with two goals: publication of material related to their previous year of work and new research on diversity and discussion.

    Department Teaching Circle Example: Its year of work has produced a variety of assessment techniques, and the Teaching Circle members have a much stronger grasp of what aspects of the course content need to be strengthened and what can be given less attention. The Teaching Circle presents its work and findings to the larger Reflective Practice community and also to a national audience in its discipline. The members also go to a local restaurant and celebrate their accomplishments. They decide they will continue to work the next year to implement changes across sections, work toward greater standardization balanced by individual professional practice, and reassess the course.