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Teaching Excellence Center

Circle Summaries March 1999

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Monday 4:00 Session

Monday, March 1

Three people attended. We received handouts made from 1998's Teaching Excellence Award winners. Handouts may be used for talking points at next meeting. Focus of today's circle was "review sessions for exams". We discussed and investigated various ways of reviewing material, which included: watching a "good" summary film, playing hang-man with key terms, have students outline their notes (outside of the class), using 3 X 5 cards to review at the end of each class or classes where information was "harder", Bob Szafran's five minute exercise at the end of class. Discussed the problem that outside assignments with no pre-determined grade value were difficult to administer (i.e. low compliance). Also, we discussed if using class time for review was a good use of class time. We agreed that the purpose of review was not for the students to find out "what's on the test?," but how to help the students study for exams. Also discussed the possiblity that students may expect reviews now more than before due to extensive preparation work for standardized tests in high school.

Tuesday 12:00 Session

We met Elisabeth Hostetter, a new member to our group, who gave us a great perspective from someone who is new to teaching. This is what we discussed:

1. How do we get departments on the campus from becoming isolated? Many of our group want faculty to get more involved in activities on campus. We mentioned the faculty lounge in the U.C. We wondered about implementing programs that seem to be successful on other campuses such as a faculty cafeteria or just an area for faculty to talk with colleagues from various schools. Certainly, the Teaching Circles are good as well to mingle with faculty from other schools.

2. How can we get students and faculty involved with classes that cross disciplines; for example, if an English class is doing a chapter on Shakespeare, why not bring in students from theatre to act out a scene or two so that Sheakespeare becomes alive; or in the school of Business, Theater students could role play issues in the workplace.

3. How do teachers set the tone for the first class. Some tell the students that they are responsible for everything the teacher says and does. Some teachers do not force attendance and believe in the philosophy that the student is paying for this so it is their responsibility to get the work done. Group work is a good teaching method because it is self-policing. More and more student assignments are web based and interactive. Elisabeth discussed ways she could incorporate web based acitivities into her theater classes. We all discussed how difficult it is to keep up with the technology available for the classroom and that we want to be on a better footing technologically so we can talk to the students.

4. Melane offered some English exercises to Elisabeth that might work in Theater Appreciation.

Tuesday 4:00 Session

At our March meeting, we planned to meet two more times, on April 6 and on the first Tuesday in May.

At the April meeting, we will talk with Mary Ann Blind. At the May meeting, we had discussed the possibility of inviting students to talk with us about their experiences in classes / with teachers.

Our March meeting focused on the topic / issue of "change." We each had copies of the SFA03 document (which we all admire), and we discussed the disconnection between the vision expressed there and the things we experience / see everyday. We discussed how SFA might every become the place described in the 03 document (in some ways more meaningful than "lip-service" to the mission statement). We explored the many ways that "change" was necessary, vital, and positive. We also discussed the resistance to "change" that so many of us face in our work at SFA. We attempted to explore ways that we might initiate change more effectively, less threateningly, but we arrived at no solutions.

As you can guess from the brief report, much of our discussion has to remain "off the record."

Wednesday 3:00 Session (no summary)

Thursday 3:15 Session (no summary)

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