Teaching Circle Goals

  • Set A Goal for the Group, Then Decide How You Will Meet It

    Accountability to peers is an important part of a Teaching Circle, as is support. If you agree to take on a task that is necessary for the group to succeed—perhaps finding literature to read or gathering materials—and aren’t sure you can do it alone, ask for help. But don’t forget—both social and professional support are important aspects of successful Teaching Circles.

    Cross-Disciplinary Teaching Circle Example: After initial discussion, group members decide that they will compile an annotated bibliography of research on classroom discussion, they will split up the reading and report back to each other, and they will experiment with restructuring class discussion based on their reading and discussion. They will solicit feedback from their students as well.

    Department Teaching Circle Example: After discussing some possible reasons why students are not passing the course, the group of instructors decides to administer a type of classroom assessment instrument known as a background knowledge probe to students in all the sections to see if they are unprepared or under-prepared for the course. Then students will take a standardized exam in the course as a final exam. Instructors will use this information as part of a larger body of data they will gather.

    No one should feel like s/he is “on the fringes” of the circle. Given the time we have available to us, you are making a significant commitment. You should feel comfortable in your group and ensure that everybody's contribution is welcome and appreciated.

    Cross-Disciplinary Teaching Circle Example: One person has little difficulty with her small, upper level classes but really needs help with her larger, liberal studies course. Another person says students insist they like the discussion in class, but he’s not convinced it actually helps them learn. Your own classes often have discussions, but most students listen or offer brief comments when forced to involve themselves while a handful carry the burden. Each person will be able to apply what s/he learns to his/her own classroom under the structure set up by the group.

    Department Teaching Circle Example: While waiting for the end of the semester and standardized exam results, the entire group agrees to visit each other’s classes when the same topic is being taught, and each will do a classroom observation and discuss what was observed regarding the content being presented.

    You may ask that everyone come with sample syllabi and reflections on them or having read a particular text and applied it in some way. Keep these goals “do-able” given the frequency of meetings and time allotted for each meeting.

    Cross-Disciplinary Teaching Circle and Department Teaching Circle Example: Group members promise to come to the next meeting with sample starter and follow-up questions and the rationale for them, based on the course content, learning goals, and the research. Everyone follows through, and everyone gets feedback and commentary.

    Make Sure Everyone’s Goals Are Included In The Circle’s Work

    No one should feel like s/he is “on the fringes” of the circle. Given the time we have available to us, you are making a significant commitment. You should feel comfortable in your group and ensure that everybody's contribution is welcome and appreciated.

    Cross-Disciplinary Teaching Circle Example: One person has little difficulty with her small, upper-level classes but really needs help with her larger, liberal studies course. Another person says students insist they like the discussion in class, but he’s not convinced it actually helps them learn. Your own classes often have discussions, but most students listen or offer brief comments when forced to involve themselves while a handful carry the burden. Each person will be able to apply what s/he learns to his/her own classroom under the structure set up by the group.

    Department Teaching Circle Example: While waiting for the end of the semester and standardized exam results, the entire group agrees to visit each other’s classes when the same topic is being taught, and each will do a classroom observation and discuss what was observed regarding the content being presented.

    Set A Goal For Each Meeting

    You may ask that everyone come with sample syllabi and reflections on them or having read a particular text and applied it in some way. Keep these goals “do-able” given the frequency of meetings and time allotted for each meeting.

    Cross-Disciplinary Teaching Circle and Department Teaching Circle Example: Group members promise to come to the next meeting with sample starter and follow-up questions and the rationale for them, based on the course content, learning goals, and the research. Everyone follows through, and everyone gets feedback and commentary.