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General Card #1839
Rochester Institute of Technology - Teaching Circles: Building community around quality teaching using EML
Updated: 1/9/2020 1:07 PM by Jordan Haenisch
Climb the walls between departments, find new collaborators and opportunities around your campus.

Climb the walls between departments, find new collaborators and opportunities around your campus. 

Are you looking for ways to learn from others and discuss new ideas in an informal, supportive environment? Are you looking for ways to build community and make connections across departments and colleges? Look no further, start a Teaching Circle today!   

RIT’s teaching circle was comprised a group of faculty, all interested in learning more about EML. We read The Saber-Tooth Curriculum, which made us think about what we teach, and why we teach it. Teaching Circle members formed the core group of a June 2019 ICE Workshop held on campus, and some continued on to a Fall 2019 Teaching Circle where we are exploring EM201 and continuing to share best practices.     

The greatest value from our Teaching Circle so far is that a group of 20 faculty from eight different departments in two different colleges have spent time talking about what we do and connecting around the common theme of mindsets and skillsets for the courses we teach; together, we are building a community of faculty and support system. 

How do you support and evaluate quality teaching on your campus?

Instructor Tips

What is a Teaching Circle? 
A Teaching Circle is a small group of faculty or teaching staff (6-8 members are ideal) who come together 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. 

The idea of a Teaching Circle isn’t new – many universities have Teaching Circles that focus on, for example, specific discussions related to teaching, or peer evaluation of teaching.

What can you do in a Teaching Circle? Just about anything you wish related to teaching and learning! 
You could focus on interdisciplinary work in EM from design thinking to interdisciplinary undergraduate research. 
You could focus on a single academic discipline, e.g., Electrical Engineering faculty sharing EM materials and ideas they’ve developed for their own classes. 
You could explore relatively narrow pedagogical topics, e.g., discussing contemporary books on teaching EM, or using case-study teaching techniques. 
You could explore broader topics, e.g., fostering inclusive learning or the scholarship of teaching and learning as it relates to EM. 

How do you stimulate open discussion?
Informal environment: A Teaching Circle is a group of peers sharing ideas.   
Every voice gets heard: Make sure each participant has a chance to talk. 
Consider the format: Consider round-robin sharing, discussion based on an article/book/video the group reviews in advance, or an open discussion where you let the conversation go where it will – and learn what’s on people’s minds. 
Use the tools you have: Scheduling is hard! Pick one of the many available tools for asynchronous discussions to capture thoughts from each session for people who were not able to attend. The RIT Teaching Circle has used both our Course Management Software and a KEEN Subnet. 

For more information on how to engage faculty in a Teaching Circle, visit: https://www.rit.edu/academicaffairs/tls/call-form-teaching-circle

  • Explore a contrarian view of accepted solution
  • Integrate information from many sources to gain insight
Creating Value
  • Identify unexpected opportunities to create extraordinary value
  • Persist through and learn from failure
Categories & Tags
  • Comprehensive
Special thanks to Michael Starenko, the Teaching & Learning Services Staff member who solicits ideas for Teaching Circles each semester, and who provided copies of The Saber-Tooth Curriculum for our group to read.
Here is a copy of our meter board (poster) from the 2020 KEEN National Conference.
Title Type Ext Date Size Download All Downloads
2020.KNC_MeterBoards_RIT.pdf Other .pdf 12/19/2019 3.9 MB 375