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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 2016

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

Engaging Students as Partners in Learning and Teaching- will meet on September 23, 2016
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?


Student presentations: Support, Evaluation, and Pedagogical Effectiveness - will meet on September 23, 2016
Jim Johnson(Exercise and Sport Studies)

Instructors of ESS graduate program.


Creating Sustainable Course-Based Research Opportunities
Patty DiBartolo (Psychology)

One of the strategic themes of the College's draft strategic plan focuses on fostering experiential and applied opportunities for students to connect their academic interests to the broader world, for example through expanded research opportunities. This teaching circle will build on momentum in the sciences to create successful and sustainable models for course-based research experiences, with particular attention to courses at the introductory or intermediate level of the curriculum. Through these conversations, we hope to collaborate on all of the questions we have when we set out to integrate scholarship into our classrooms. Colleagues from all divisions at the college are welcome!


Mentoring First-Generation Students
Tina Wildhagen(Sociology)

Details coming soon.


Contemplative Pedagogy
Ruth Ozeki (English Language and Literature)

This teaching circle is for teachers interested in incorporating mindfulness practices in their classrooms. We’ve all heard about the beneficial effects of mindfulness meditation on mental and physical health, which include stress reduction, improved focus and concentration, and increased emotional stability and self-confidence. These are desirable states of well-being for student and teacher, alike, but understanding is one thing, and implementation is another. How do we bring mindfulness into the classroom? What kinds of practices are there, and how do we offer them to students in an open, respectful and non-coercive way? In this teaching circle, we’ll look at these questions, practice a little meditation, exchange ideas and techniques, and support each other in this inquiry into what a mindfulness-based contemplative pedagogy might be.

*Ruth Ozeki's teaching circle will meet in Seelye Hall, Room B8. Please stop by the Neilson Browsing room to pick up your lunch and then proceed to the Basement of Seelye Hall to participate in this Teaching Circle. Thank you!



Other Teaching Circles Meeting on Smith Campus:


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. We will talk about what works and what we would like to improve. Some possible topics to cover include: research-based lab instruction, teaching students how to write lab reports, using peer-review, teaching data analysis and graphing, presentation assignments, methods of grading, making links across disciplines, documentation in lab notebooks, etc.


Teaching English Language and Literature -will meet on its own schedule
Ambreen Hai (English Language and Literature)

The Department of English Language and Literature's mission states that it "aims to teach all the students it serves, both majors and non-majors, to write and speak well and to read skillfully, thoughtfully and with pleasure." This circle will discuss what pedagogies can best achieve this mission.


Feminist Science and Technology Studies
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.