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Teaching Circles

Every semester, the Sherrerd Center for Teaching and Learning sponsors a variety of Teaching Circles where faculty come together to discuss a teaching topic of shared interest. These have proven especially useful for many faculty over the past several years, and we encourage faculty to consider leading or participating in a Teaching Circle this semester. The Sherrerd Center arranges for Teaching Circles to meet on three specific Fridays from noon until 1:00 in Neilson Browsing Room with lunch provided. See below for this semester's dates and specifics.

The following are Teaching Circles that are continuing or forming for the current semester. If you are interested in joining one of these groups, please contact the faculty organizer noted below. If you have ideas for other Teaching Circle topics, please contact Floyd Cheung to discuss it further.

FALL 2015

September 25
October 9
November 20

See below or contact the Teaching Circle organizer for details on meeting dates.

Engaging Students as Partners in Learning and Teaching- will meet on October 9 and November 20
Floyd Cheung (English Language & Literature, American Studies)

Building on ideas from Alison Cook-Sather’s book Engaging Students as Partners in Learning and Teaching: A Guide for Faculty, this circle convenes staff and faculty members interested in talking more about their own attempts at engaging or possible plans to engage students as partners. How can partnership increase student engagement and learning? How can partnership improve our teaching? What principles ought we to follow to assure respect, reciprocity, and responsibility? How can we make sure that our efforts reach the widest possible range of students?

Creating Student-Centered Learning Opportunities in Foreign Language Classrooms - will meet on September 25 and November 20
Atsuko Takahashi (East Asian Languages & Literature)

In this Teaching Circle, foreign language educators are invited to gather to discuss the latest trends in language teaching and issues in language classes, and to share ideas about curricula. This semester, we would like to focus on discussing how to create student-centered learning opportunities.

Feminist Science and Technology Studies
- will meet on September 25, October 9, and November 20
Lisa Armstong (Study of Women & Gender)

This teaching circle will combine professors from the humanities, social sciences and sciences to discuss course units, readings and themes that address gender studies research in and about the sciences. We will work together to discuss on ongoing classes as well as course development projects.

Strengthening and Diversifying Women's Voices in the College Classroom
- will meet on September 25, October 9, and November 20
Benita Jackson (Psychology)

"Speaking articulately" is one of the key capacities Smith College has designated as crucial to student success. In collaboration with the Wurtele Center for Work and Life, we studied student perspectives and practical steps faculty can take to help students cultivate a growth mindset around speaking in classes. The goal is to help you increase and sustain participation from a wider range of students to make your teaching more effective for the students and fun for you.


Teaching Large Classes - will meet on September 25, October 9, and November 20
Lisa Mangiamele (Biological Sciences)

*Please note that this Teaching Circle will begin at 12:15 pm (instead of 12:05 pm) due to scheduling conflicts.

This teaching circle will provide a forum for teachers of large classes to talk about issues, challenges, and potential solutions. We will talk about how to make lectures more interactive, strategies for remembering names, and other ways to make a large class feel smaller.


Building capacity for fostering student learning and persistence in the sciences - will meet on September 25, October 9, and November 20
Patty DiBartolo (Psychology)

How can we catalyze change in order to build long-standing institutional capacity for excellence in terms of student outcomes and persistence in the sciences? This is the critical question posed by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) for its next round of grant competition. This Teaching Circle will be used as a mechanism to provide input and feedback on the emerging ideas about how to foster excellence for all as we work together to write the HHMI grant and plan for the future.

* Note about Patty DiBartolo's Teaching Circle -on November 20th this Teaching Circle will be held in Seelye Hall 207 (Faculty Lounge). Please stop by the Neilson Browsing room to pick up your lunch and then proceed to the second floor of Seelye Hall to participate in this Teaching Circle. Thank you!