Michael Starenko—The Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) is seeking RIT faculty and teaching staff (full-time and part-time, visiting, lecturer, academic support specialist, tenured, tenure-track, adjunct, etc.) who are interested in proposing a topic and facilitating a teaching circle in Fall semester 2022. A teaching circle is a small group of teachers who come together for at least one term to have robust discussions about a teaching and learning topic.
If you, as an individual or small group, would like to start a teaching circle this Fall, please complete our Qualtrics application Call to propose a Teaching Circle in Fall 2022 by August 8, 2022. Applicants will be notified by August 10, 2022.
Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we ask that all accepted facilitators be willing to offer their teaching circles in a Zoom web-conferencing mode.
The CTL will announce the roster of Fall 2022 teaching circle topics/facilitators to the RIT community on August 23 and 30, 2022. Interested participants are strongly encouraged to email circle facilitators by September 2, 2022. Unless otherwise indicated in the circle description, each circle will establish a meeting schedule based on a poll of participants’ availability.
See the sections below for additional details about the CTL Teaching Circles program. If you have any questions about teaching circles or the application process, please email Michael Starenko.
How are teaching circles organized?
As mentioned above, each teaching circle will be organized by one or more facilitators drawn from the RIT community, with support from CTL. Once formed, circles will be advertised by CTL and have an initial meeting to establish their own organizational structure and subject matter. Circles are intended to be egalitarian, with all members playing an equal role in their success. Unlike a typical course or workshop, in a teaching circle participants collaborate to develop expertise rather than have an expert facilitate meetings.
How are the teaching/learning topics decided?
An individual or small group (ideally 1-2 people) who want to explore a specific topic makes a proposal to CTL to propose a teaching circle. Once formed, CTL will put out a call to the RIT community to join this and other circles.
What can you do in a teaching circle?
Just about anything you wish, so long as it is related to teaching and learning. For example, some previous RIT teaching circles have focused on interdisciplinary work: active learning, critical thinking, and metacognition/learning about learning. Others have focused on topics within specific disciplines and programs: exploring online teaching/learning resources in STEM disciplines, or fostering "entrepreneurial mindsets" in engineering curricula. Still other RIT circles have investigated relatively narrow pedagogical issues: discussing books and videos on "teaching in a world of extroverts" or sharing ideas and strategies that support faculty mentoring of students.
How do teaching circles go about exploring teaching/learning topics?
Teaching circle meetings can take a variety of forms to stimulate conversation and help members investigate teaching/learning topics. As other colleges and universities have discovered, teaching circle members may use a number of methods for sharing knowledge, including, but not limited to:
- Guided discussion: Members come prepared to discuss an item (article, chapter, video, etc.) or issue selected by the group.
- Round-robins: Members share personal experience and knowledge on a topic of interest to the group.
- Ask the expert: An “expert” (or expert panel) is invited to share insights on a topic. This can include an outside guest speaker or bringing in experts from across our own campus.
- “Progress” reports: Members report on experiments they have conducted with new ways of teaching. This can be especially helpful as a support mechanism while trying a new teaching style or project.
- Peer tutoring: Members of the group take responsibility for learning different aspects of the topic being explored by the group. At each meeting, one or two members report back on the material they have researched.
- Open discussion: Meetings can be occasions for informal conversations about the circle’s general topic. There is no set agenda. Participants bring in issues, questions, problems that are of interest to them.
What are the requirements for teaching circles?
Members are expected to attend and contribute to the majority of meetings. Every circle is expected to keep informal meeting minutes and produce a brief report/presentation of findings.
How does CTL support teaching circles?
The Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) will support teaching circles by
- Matching would-be circle facilitators/topics with would-be circle members through common RIT communication channels
- Orienting and advising facilitators on group communications and logistics
- CTL has a modest budget for teaching circles and will facilitate the purchase of supporting materials (e.g., books) on a per-request basis.