Although many teaching principles and practices can be conveyed through workshops and lectures, there is no substitute for individual discussion with a YTC staff member about one’s teaching style, classroom goals, and interaction with students. The Center routinely assists graduate students with section and course design, mid-semester classroom observations and feedback, interpreting student evaluations, and addressing problems in the classroom.
Other occasions for consultation with the Center are described below. Teachers are encouraged to contact Marie Bragg at the the Center to schedule a consultation at any time.
The Center also provides classroom visitations that enable one to identify both effective teaching practices that can be cultivated and ineffective habits that can be corrected. There is typically a pre-briefing during which the teacher provides the consultant background information about the class and shares any concerns about classroom dynamics. This meeting provides a context and focus for the classroom observation and is an invaluable first step in establishing trust between the teacher and consultant. During the classroom observation, the consultant takes notes on what happens in the classroom, how the teacher presents material and how the students respond both to the teacher and one another. At the teacher’s request, the consultant will videotape the lecture or discussion and provide the teacher (and only the teacher) with the video file for private review. The analysis concludes with a post-observation dialogue (as opposed to a one-way evaluation) in which the teacher and discuss style and technique specific to the class observed.
All consultations with the Center are strictly confidential. However, participants may wish to inform their departments or potential employers of the efforts they have undertaken to improve their teaching. Increasingly, academic hiring committees seek evidence of effective teaching. Video records, results of consultations, and an ability to theorize one’s teaching style and philosophy are fast becoming standard discourse during the hiring process.
Demonstrating your preparation as a teacher is an increasingly important element of the academic job search process. We offer individual meetings to help you write and refine a teaching statement, assemble a teaching portfolio, and prepare to discuss teaching (and perhaps present a sample class) during an academic job interview.
We developed this program for participants in our Certificate in College Teaching Preparation program. Reflective observation of others' teaching and being observed while teaching have many benefits. This practice can expand the repertoire of the observer and provide him/her practice in taking a critical perspective on teaching and articulating observations of teaching practices and their effects on student learning. This process helps teachers in their ability to understand themselves as teachers and to make productive changes to the way they present material, lead discussion, and interact with students.
We offer observation training sessions several times a year. Participants in these sessions will be instructed in the consultation process (i.e., framing, observation and reflection), as well as techniques for effective observation and for writing an observation report.