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Teaching Circles

Teaching Circles
 

Every semester, the Sherrerd Center sponsors a variety of Teaching Circles in which faculty and teaching staff come together to discuss a teaching topic of shared interest. These have proven especially useful over the past several years, and we encourage faculty and staff members to consider leading or participating in a Teaching Circle this semester. The Sherrerd Center arranges for Teaching Circles to meet on three or four specific Fridays from 12:15 until 1:15 p.m., with lunch provided beginning at noon. We also support additional Teaching Circles that meet on their own schedule. 


Spring 2020 Teaching Circles

All Teaching Circles are cancelled from 3/17 through the end of the Spring Semester.


Inclusive Teaching in STEM Gateway Courses - meets on Teaching Circle Fridays
Kevin Shea (Chemistry)

Inclusive teaching practices focus on strategies to provide all of our students opportunities to succeed in the classroom. This teaching circle will focus on applying these methods in our introductory and intermediate (often large) STEM courses. Students in these classes come from highly diverse backgrounds, and success in gateway courses promotes diversity in our majors and in opportunities after Smith. What can we do in course design and instruction to promote understanding and engagement in our classes. How can we engage students as partners in our work? What inclusive practices are others at Smith experimenting with? What can we learn from our colleagues outside of Smith? These are some of the questions we will explore.


Constructing Critical Conversations in your Classroom: Creating Change - meets on Teaching Circle Fridays 
Peggy O’Neill (School for Social Work)

This teaching circle is for those who attended the January 2020 Critical Conversations Faculty Development series as they apply the dialogic practice to their classrooms. The Critical Conversations (CC) model provides a framework for facilitating conversations to directly and constructively engage immediate discussions of power and privilege, oppression, and structural inequalities active in the classroom. Although such issues often activate emotional tension and conflict in classrooms, they can produce fruitful dialogue that fosters critical analysis when facilitated effectively. The CC model, grounded in dialogic learning principles provides a pathway for faculty and students to deconstruct how power dynamics that perpetuate inequities across relationships and structures are enacted within their immediate conversation and explore the inherent relationship to the content of the course.


Teaching with Multiple Pedagogies in Traditional and Flat Floored Classrooms - meets on Teaching Circle Fridays
Shannon Audley (Education and Child Study)

Do you lecture and do small group activities within a given class period? Do you facilitate discussion but also use break out groups? This teaching circle is open to all faculty who use, have used, or are interested in using multiple pedagogies within a given class period. We will exchange ideas about what pedagogies we pair together, what is effective (or not), and how classroom space (such as teaching in a flexible classroom such as Seelye 301 or 106 and McConnell B05 versus a more traditional classroom like Seelye 101) and technology facilitates or inhibits our pedagogical goals.


Sharing Current Teaching Ideas/Challenges - meets on Teaching Circle Fridays
Nicholas Howe (Engineering)

It can be very useful to have the chance to share current teaching challenges with colleagues, getting their ideas and bouncing your own off a sympathetic and experienced sounding board.  Often just the act of articulating a teaching challenge in front of a group can be beneficial, even before you get suggestions and feedback. 


Teaching Engaged Global Citizens - meets on Teaching Circle Fridays 2/21 and 3/13
Marguerite Itamar Harrison (Spanish and Portugese)

Smith’s mission directs students to be engaged global citizens. What does it mean for us to commit to this mission on our campus, from across disciplines and divisions? What are the methods, contents and pedagogical techniques that better prepare our students for the world? This Teaching Circle is for all faculty members and staff who feel a commitment to this mission, and who wish to share curricular ideas and strategies for strengthening our international and global outreach in the classroom.


Teaching while Contingent - meets 2/20, 3/23, 4/2, and 4/17
Tian An Wong (Math & Statistics)
Bona Kang (Education)

This teaching circle welcomes precarious academic laborers at Smith, open to all contingent staff and faculty on short-term non-negotiable contracts. The class stratification of tenure, tenure-track, and adjunct faculty at Smith is largely invisible, while statistics reveal the increasing and indispensable "precariat" across the board in the US academy. We will discuss teaching and other work whilst navigating Smith as a foreign and temporary environment, centering the experiences of racial, ethnic, sexual, gender, and national minorities. What resources are available to us? What methods of coping and acclimating have others found effective? What emotional labor is required of us that is not valued by potential future employers? In what ways are we complicit in the structural inequalities that persist in the institution?  Through these conversations, we hope to develop a community of support as we learn from one another’s experiences. Please sign up here to express interest in attending. 


Collaborators Inside and Outside the Classroom - meets Tues., March 10, 12:15-1:15, Jandon Center for Community Engagement, Wright Hall, lower level, room 013 and Wed., April 15, 12:15-1:15, Smith Media Studios, 18 Henshaw Ave., Unit D
Sign up here
Charlene Shang Miller (Museum of Art)
Jon Caris (Spatial Analysis Lab)

This Teaching Circle brings together staff from a variety of campus resources (libraries, museums, labs, centers, etc.) who are collaborators in teaching and learning inside and outside the classroom. In our meetings, we will discover our various sites, share pedagogy and approaches to integrating resources into the curriculum, build community through networking, and generate ideas for collaborations with faculty and students as well as each other.

To be added to the group contact list for this Teaching Circle, please email Charlene Shang Miller.


Ethics in the Sciences Courses - meets in Ford Hall at lunch 2/14, 2/21, 3/13, 4/3, and 4/17
Stan Scordilis (Biological Sciences)

The Science Ethics Circle would like to create a course focused on what ethical questions might be encountered in the field of science research.   We will likely target this to CHM/BCH/BIO/NSC types of students, but other science students might also be interested. Starting with “what is ethics” and getting students to acknowledge values - introduce concepts and frameworks that we keep coming back to - explore various aspects with case studies and some role playing to really force students to engage with the topics.   


Creative Writing Salon - meets 3/12 from 4-6:30 in Poetry Center, other dates TBD
Andrea Stone (English Language & Literature)
Gillian Kendall (English Language & Literature)
Ruth Ozeki (English Language & Literature) 

The Creative Writing Salon is an occasion for faculty and staff who are teaching and practicing creative writing to meet informally to discuss the things that interest and concern us—pedagogy, craft, and our own writing projects—and to share work as well. The Salon is for anyone who has some kind of creative writing practice and engages in some way with creative writing pedagogy.

The Salon is hosted by the English Department’s Creative Writing Committee and the Sherrerd Center for Teaching and Learning. We meet twice a semester for wine and cheese, and in the interim to use a Moodle site to stay connected. 


Teaching "Blackness"/Black Atlantic/Africa and its Diaspora:  An Africana Studies Teaching Circle - will meet once during the semester on 4/17 (Campus Center TV Lounge, then breakout rooms)
Daphne Lamothe (Africana Studies)

In this teaching circle, faculty teaching courses having to do with racialized blackness in the U.S. and across the African/Black diaspora will gather together to discuss the strengths, challenges and opportunities for collaboration. 


EAL Department Teaching Circle - will meet 2/11 and 3/31
Kim Kono (EAL)

EAL faculty discuss a wide range of topics about teaching and learning, including student motivation, quiet students, and study strategies for first and second-year language students. Sometimes, syllabi design is discussed along with the different approaches/philosophies faculty have toward this document and the ways that syllabi can support equity and inclusion in the classroom. Other topics include how to approach challenges and support students various abilities.


Conversation About Instructing Laboratory Classes - dates TBD for May (when classes end)
Marney Pratt (Biological Sciences)

This Teaching Circle is an opportunity for lab instructors (and anyone else who teaches lab courses) to get together and talk across disciplines about teaching lab courses.


 

Past Teaching Circles

Teaching Circle Friday Meetings

  • Friday, September 13, 2019 - 12:15-1:15 pm (Lunch beginning at noon) - Campus Center Carroll Room
  • Friday, September 27, 2019 - 12:15-1:15 pm (Lunch beginning at noon) - Campus Center Carroll Room
  • Friday, October 11, 2019 - 12:15-1:15 pm (Lunch beginning at noon) - Campus Center Carroll Room
  • Friday, November 15, 2019 - 12:15-1:15 pm (Lunch beginning at noon) - Campus Center Carroll Room

Making Visible the Sometimes Invisible: Teaching and Learning with Disabilities at Smith
Caroline Melly (Anthropology)
Sara Pruss (Geosciences)

This semester, our goal is to review recent data and foster conversation about student and faculty experiences with disability, teaching, and learning at Smith. We hope to have a rich conversation with any member of our community who would like to join us. We have the ultimate goal of developing and offering a January workshop that focuses on disability and inclusive teaching at Smith, and we’d like to a sustain a conversation this Fall to make sure we incorporate as many perspectives as possible.


Inclusive Teaching in STEM Gateway Courses 
Kevin Shea (Chemistry)

Inclusive teaching practices focus on strategies to provide all of our students opportunities to succeed in the classroom. This teaching circle will focus on applying these methods in our introductory and intermediate (often large) STEM courses. Students in these classes come from highly diverse backgrounds, and success in gateway courses promotes diversity in our majors and in opportunities after Smith. What can we do in course design and instruction to promote understanding and engagement in our classes. How can we engage students as partners in our work? What inclusive practices are others at Smith experimenting with? What can we learn from our colleagues outside of Smith? These are some of the questions we will explore.


Smith Writes 
Julio Alves (Jacobson Center)
Richard Millington (English Language & Literature)

We have much to learn from one another as teachers of writing-based courses. In this Teaching Circle, we will discuss critical pedagogical issues that often come up when we teach these courses: What does it mean for a student to write well? What is the relationship between writing and thinking, between reading and writing, between general and discipline-specific competencies? What pedagogical practices and assignments produce the best writing? How do we respond effectively to student writing? What role should public discourse play in the teaching of writing? What should our goals be in initiating students into different kinds of literacy—digital, quantitative, informational, visual, data, media, etc.? To what extent should we engage students with different genres (fiction, creative nonfiction, journalism, lab reports), digital technologies (Google Docs, digital narratives, podcasts), and purposes for writing (academic, professional, civic)?


Constructing Critical Conversations in your Classroom: Creating Change 
Peggy O’Neill (School for Social Work)

The Critical Conversations (CC) model provides a framework for facilitating conversations to directly and constructively engage immediate discussions of power and privilege, oppression, and structural inequalities active in the classroom. Although such issues often activate emotional tension and conflict in classrooms, they can produce fruitful dialogue that fosters critical analysis when facilitated effectively. The CC model, grounded in dialogic learning principles provides a pathway for faculty and students to deconstruct how power dynamics that perpetuate inequities across relationships and structures are enacted within their immediate conversation and explore the inherent relationship to the content of the course.

Critical conversations are those in which power dynamics in social context are illuminated, substantively examined in the moment and subsequently reflected upon in order to produce change—personal, systemic, institutional.

This Teaching Circle is open to all faculty who are curious and interested in enhancing their skills in participating in and facilitating critical conversations in their classrooms. Faculty who attended the Critical Conversations Professional Development Series in January 2019 are highly encouraged to come for support and to offer consultation and guidance to others.

We will have opportunity to discuss ways in which to use the CC model when challenging issues related to power, privilege, oppression and structural inequities emerge and are played out among students and instructors.  Discussion will be open and applied to common situations with which many of us can connect.


Teaching while Contingent
Tian An Wong (Math & Statistics)
Bona Kang (Education)

This teaching circle welcomes precarious academic laborers at Smith, open to all contingent staff and faculty on short-term non-negotiable contracts. The class stratification of tenure, tenure-track, and adjunct faculty at Smith is largely invisible, while statistics reveal the increasing and indispensable "precariat" across the board in the US academy. We will discuss teaching and other work whilst navigating Smith as a foreign and temporary environment, centering the experiences of racial, ethnic, sexual, gender, and national minorities. What resources are available to us? What methods of coping and acclimating have others found effective? What emotional labor is required of us that is not valued by potential future employers? In what ways are we complicit in the structural inequalities that persist in the institution?  Through these conversations, we hope to develop a community of support as we learn from one another’s experiences. Please sign up here for future notifications, especially if Fridays are not convenient for you.


Teaching Circle on Teaching in Seelye 301 and other Flat-Floor Classrooms
Shannon Audley (Education)

Last year a new classroom with a flexible floor plan, movable furniture, and multiple projectors came online: Seelye 301. This circle convenes those who teach in that room and those who are considering teaching in flat-floor flexible classrooms in general. We will exchange ideas about what pedagogies that room makes feasible, including Team-Based Learning and other similar "active" pedagogies, and draw upon insights from the learning sciences to improve our classroom practices.


Collaborators Inside and Outside the Classroom
Charlene Shang Miller (Museum of Art)
Jon Caris (Spatial Analysis Lab)

This Teaching Circle brings together staff from a variety of campus resources (libraries, museums, labs, centers, etc.) who are collaborators in teaching and learning inside and outside the classroom. In our meetings, we will discover our various sites, share pedagogy and approaches to integrating resources into the curriculum, build community through networking, and generate ideas for collaborations with faculty and students as well as each other.

To be added to the group contact list for this Teaching Circle, please email Charlene Shang Miller.

Fall 2019 schedule:

Friday, Oct. 11, 12:15-1:15 pm (Lunch beginning at noon) - Campus Center Carroll Room

Discussion with Laura Rauscher, director of the Office of Disability Services 

Thursday, Oct. 31, 12:00-1:15, Botanic Garden, Lyman 111

Thursday, Nov. 21, 12:00-1:15, Design Thinking Initiative, Capen Annex

Please sign up here.


Teaching "Blackness"/Black Atlantic/Africa and its Diaspora:  An Africana Studies Teaching Circle
Daphne Lamothe (Africana Studies)

In this teaching circle, faculty teaching courses having to do with racialized blackness in the U.S. and across the African/Black diaspora will gather together to discuss the strengths, challenges and opportunities for collaboration. 

Friday, Sept. 27, 12:15-1:15 pm (Lunch beginning at noon) - Campus Center Carroll Room


Developing and Teaching Soft Skills
Dina Venezky (Non-Degree Programs)

How can we best communicate and network to gain the support of others? This circle, the idea for which emerged from a Teaching Arts Luncheon last year, is for anyone interested in discussing the soft skills we need to be successful. Non-degree programs will share experiential materials we use to help our participants move forward in their careers. Join us for a lively discussion.

Friday, Oct. 11, 12:15-1:15 pm (Lunch beginning at noon) - Campus Center Carroll Room
Friday, Nov. 15, 12:15-1:15 pm (Lunch beginning at noon) - Campus Center Carroll Room


Creative Writing Salon 
Andrea Stone (English Language & Literature)
Gillian Kendall (English Language & Literature)
Ruth Ozeki (English Language & Literature) 

The Creative Writing Salon is an occasion for faculty and staff who are teaching and practicing creative writing to meet informally to discuss the things that interest and concern us—pedagogy, craft, and our own writing projects—and to share work as well. The Salon is for anyone who has some kind of creative writing practice and engages in some way with creative writing pedagogy.

The Salon is hosted by the English Department's Creative Writing Committee and the Sherrerd Center for Teaching and Learning. We meet twice a semester for wine and cheese, and in the interim to use a Moodle site to stay connected. 

Thursday, Oct. 17, 5:00-6:30 p.m., Poetry Center, Wright Hall


Conversation About Instructing Laboratory Classes 
Marney Pratt (Biological Sciences)

This Teaching Circle is an opportunity for lab instructors (and anyone else who teaches lab courses) to get together and talk across disciplines about teaching lab courses.

Friday Sept. 13th, 12:15-1:15 p.m. (Lunch beginning at noon) - Campus Center Carroll Room
December (date and time TBD)