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Blog » Call to Form a Teaching Circle in Spring Semester 2019

Michael Starenko -- Teaching and Learning Services (TLS) launched a Teaching Circles program in AY 2017-2018. We are currently 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 and willing to help form a Teaching Circle in Spring semester 2019.

If you, as an individual or small group, would like to form a Teaching Circle around a teaching/learning topic of your choosing, please complete our Qualtrics survey form, Call to Form a Teaching Circle Application for Spring Semester 2019, by December 17, 2018. Applicants will be notified by December 20, 2018.

TLS will announce the roster of Spring 2019 Teaching Circle topics/facilitators to the RIT community on January 3, 2019. Interested participants should contact Circle facilitators directly. Based on a Doodle or similar poll, most Circles will hold their initial, organizational meetings in early February.

See the sections below for full details about the TLS Teaching Circles program. If you have any questions about the program, please email Michael Starenko.

What is a Teaching Circle?

A small group of faculty and teaching staff (6-8 members are ideal) who come together—with the support of Teaching and Learning Services (TLS)—for at least one term to discuss a teaching and learning topic that they can delve deeply into during group discussions. Unlike a typical course or workshop, in a Teaching Circle people collaborate together to develop expertise rather than being facilitated by someone who already has more expertise.

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 TLS to form a Circle. Once formed, TLS 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, e.g., Active Learning and Critical Thinking. Others have focused on work within a cluster of academic disciplines, e.g., exploring online learning and sharing Internet-based teaching/learning resources in STEM disciplines. Some groups may explore relatively narrow pedagogical topics, e.g., reading and discussing contemporary books on teaching, Team-Based Learning, or sharing ideas and strategies that support faculty mentoring of students. Other Circles may select broader topics, e.g., fostering inclusive learning or the scholarship of teaching and learning.

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. Teaching Circle members may make use of one or more method 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.
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 Teaching and Learning Services (TLS). Once formed, Circles will be advertised by TLS and have an initial meeting to: (1) establish their own organizational structure, and, if not already done so, (2) establish their subsequent schedule of meetings. Circles are intended to be egalitarian and all members play an equal role in their success.

What are the requirements for Teaching Circles?

Each Circle should be comprised of 5-10 members, including the facilitator(s). If more people are interested, the Circle can be split into two 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. Final findings will be presented at a Teaching Circles Capstone Luncheon hosted by TLS.

How does TLS support Teaching Circles?

Teaching and Learning Services (TLS) will support Teaching Circles by

  • Matching would-be Circle facilitators/topics with would-be Circle members through RIT-wide communication channels
  • Orienting and advising facilitators on group communications and logistics (e.g., appropriate and available meeting rooms)
  • Hosting a Teaching Circles Capstone Luncheon at the end of every semester to enable Circles to present their findings and discuss the implications of those findings for faculty development at RIT
  • TLS has a modest budget for Teaching Circles and will facilitate the purchase of supporting materials (e.g., books) on a per-request basis.

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