Bok Seminars

 

Each Bok Seminar offers graduate students and scholars the opportunity to explore an area of interest in teaching and learning over multiple sessions. Seminars vary in length and intensity based on their focus areas and goals. They range from 6 sessions to full semester offerings. Seminars are offered in the focus areas represented in the Bok Center Teaching Certificate

Below is a sample of the types of Seminars we offer year-round.

Spring Seminars

Designing a Syllabus

This course will guide participants through the basics of syllabus design.  We'll discuss how to frame courses successfully; how to select content; and how to present the syllabus aesthetically.  Participants will create a syllabus step-by-step to workshop in the final session(s) of the course.  Note: this course will be particularly useful to graduate students who are preparing to go on the job market or pitch courses to their departments.

Focus Areas: Pedagogy, Course and Assignment Design

Schedule: Mondays from 2-4 starting on January 30 and ending on March 20

This seminar is now closed.

Intercultural Communication for Teachers and Scholars

Are you wondering about Harvard undergraduates’ backgrounds and classroom expectations? Are you striving to create a learning atmosphere that is respectful and inclusive of varied cultural backgrounds? In this interactive seminar, we will explore teaching and learning across cultures. We will learn about how our cultural values and communication styles influence classroom interactions like participating in discussions, presenting information, asking questions, building rapport, or giving and receiving feedback. We will also discuss how, as teachers, to avoid and manage cultural misunderstandings and to build on cultural strengths to foster an inclusive and productive learning environment. Sessions will be devoted to a variety of topics on intercultural communication and participants will have opportunities to brainstorm, practice, and get feedback on strategies for inclusive teaching in Harvard classrooms. This seminar is designed for international TFs and scholars, but is open to anyone interested in developing intercultural competence.

Focus Areas: Language and Culture of the Classroom

Schedule: Thursdays, 2-4pm, Feb 2- March 9

Enroll for this seminar here.

The Art of Discussion Leading

In this seminar, we will work to master the art of discussion leading. We will think theoretically about the role and function of discussions in lecture courses and small seminars while, at the same time, developing the full range of skills that leading a discussion in the classroom requires. We will look at research on discussion as a pedagogical tool, examine case studies, watch and reflect on taped discussion sections, and devote time to employing and perfecting various practical discussion leading techniques. Please note that no prior teaching experience is required! This course is intended for new and experienced teachers alike.

Focus Areas: Pedagogy, Language and Culture of the Classroom
Schedule: Mondays 2-4pm, January 23- March 6

Enrollment for this seminar is now closed.

Take my Course… Please! Lessons from Comedy for Teachers

In this seminar we will explore the relationship between stand up comedy and teaching, and how lessons and dynamics that occur in successful comedy routines could be relevant to the classroom (and, more broadly, to the defense of a liberal arts education). To be a good comedian, you have to be able to persuade your audience to let you show them a radically new perspective on things—to think about questions which have never occurred to them before, to see the world as an outsider would, and to wonder why, exactly, we behave in the ways that we do. In some cases, these new perspectives may be simply humorous; but often, they carry a bite, and allow the audience to reflect critically (even uncomfortably) on the world we have created, and to wonder why it isn’t different. In theory, these are exactly the skills we value when teaching the liberal arts, too. In this seminar, we will read classic comedy memoirs like Steve Martin’s Born Standing Up and deconstruct video of several popular comedy routines to explore the ways in which we might transpose the wisdom of the comedy club to the college classroom.  This seminar is designed for Liberal Arts teachers.  Enrollment for this seminar will open the last week of February.

Focus Areas: Pedagogy, Language and Culture of the Classroom
Schedule: Tuesday- 1-3 pm, March 21-April 25

Register for this seminar here.

Teaching Practice for International Teachers and Scholars

Do you feel nervous about teaching? Do you worry about how your English sounds to your undergraduates? Are you interested in reflecting on and practicing your teaching? This practice-based seminar is designed to help international graduate students practice and get feedback on their teaching and speaking. Each week we will explore a new teaching strategy, and the following week we will practice it in microteaching. For more information, visit the Professional Communication Program for International Teachers and Scholars page.  

Focus Areas: Professional Communication

Schedule: Tuesdays, 2-4pm. 8 meetings, starting week of Feb 7- April 4.

Enroll for this seminar here.

Public Speaking for Teachers and Scholars

As graduate students and scholars, we are constantly being asked to verbally represent ourselves and our ideas -- in classrooms, conferences, interviews, and a range of personal and professional relationships. The seminar is designed to help you become aware of your habits of communication – both good and bad – and to provide you with concrete strategies to improve your public speaking skills in a variety of contexts. Students in this seminar will develop a new talk each week; learn the basics of powerful speechwriting; understand, address, and overcome their individual, public-speaking anxieties; and develop the skills to make any presentation compelling and memorable. By presenting to the class each week, participants will build exceptional hands-on experience in projection, gesturing, interacting with the audience, vocal and emotional variety, using volume to command attention, and the subtle but immense power of silence.

Focus Areas: Professional Communication
Schedule: Wednesdays 10am-12pm,  February 1- March 8

This seminar is now full.  Check back for a summer offering!

Effective Ways to Improve Student Writing

Over the course of six meetings, this seminar will explore time-saving and pedagogically sound strategies for getting the most out of writing in your course: from designing and sequencing written assignments that are aligned with your course’s goals, to responding efficiently and effectively to student writing, to using writing-based activities to enhance learning in the classroom. In group workshops, seminar participants will get an overview of what first-year undergraduates learn in their expository writing (Expos) courses and reflect on their own grading and commenting practices at TFs within discipline-specific course settings. In one-on-one sessions, participants will receive targeted support and develop their teaching persona. In addition, each participant will have the opportunity to devise an innovative tool for teaching writing—an assignment prompt, a pre-writing exercise, a skills lesson—and a method for assessing that tool’s impact on student learning.

 Focus Areas: Professional Communication, Pedagogy
Schedule- Tuesdays from 3-5, January 31- March 7

Enrollment for this seminar is now closed.

7 Research-Based Principles for Smart Teaching

Understanding effective teaching must begin with thinking about how people learn. In this 6-week seminar, we will discuss how basic learning principles from psychology, education and cognitive science can be applied to support student learning. We will be reading How Learning Works: 7 Research-Based Principles for Smart Teaching with an eye to exploring what kinds of teaching strategies work best — and why — in our respective disciplines. By the end of the seminar, you will understand why certain teaching approaches are or are not effective, and will be able to generate or adapt your current classroom practices to optimize student learning. Prior teaching experience is preferred. Enrollment is limited. 

Focus Areas: Pedagogy
Mondays 4:30-6:30 pm
6 meetings starting second week of class (week of Feb 1)

Enrollment for this seminar is now closed.

Active Learning in the Sciences

Interested in learning about effective methods for engaging your students during class? In this course, we will explore and practice a variety of approaches for implementing active learning in a science/math/engineering classroom. Throughout the course, you will develop activities, using examples from your own discipline, which you will teach to other members of the class. Additionally, we will read some of the research that examines the benefits of active learning.
Audience: Priority will be given to those teaching in science, math or engineering

Focus Areas: Pedagogy
Schedule: Wednesday afternoons 3-5, February 22-April 5, no meeting Spring Break Week

Register for this seminar here.

Classroom Communication Skills for ITFs

This seminar is designed to help international graduate students develop the oral communication skills necessary to be successful in their graduate programs, with a particular emphasis on skills necessary for teaching in the Harvard classroom. Students will work on improving their oral English comprehensibility and accuracy, learn and practice general pedagogical strategies for teaching interactively, improve their impromptu speaking skills, and build their ability to interact effectively with undergraduates.

This seminar is part of the Professional Communication Program for International Teachers and Scholars. To apply, please contact Sadikshya Nepal at snepal@fas.harvard.edu.

Focus Areas: Professional Communication

Summer Seminars

The Art of Discussion Leading

In this seminar, we will work to master the art of discussion leading. We will think theoretically about the role and function of discussions in lecture courses and small seminars while, at the same time, developing the full range of skills that leading a discussion in the classroom requires. We will look at research on discussion as a pedagogical tool, examine case studies, watch and reflect on taped discussion sections, and devote time to employing and perfecting various practical discussion leading techniques. Please note that no prior teaching experience is required! This course is intended for new and experienced teachers alike.  

Focus Areas: Pedagogy, Language and Culture of the Classroom

Driving Diversity in STEM: How to Foster an Inclusive Classroom

Diversity fuels innovation and creativity. However, women and minority groups are often underrepresented in STEM fields. This six-part seminar will explore the benefits that diversity brings to the classroom and beyond. We will discuss the biases and imbalances currently present in STEM fields and explore strategies for creating an inclusive classroom. Participants will learn how to design curriculum with diversity in mind by creating a lesson that teaches students about a core concept in their field through the lens of diversity. This seminar will focus on STEM fields, but is open to anyone wishing to utilize diversity to enhance student learning and research in their field. 

Focus Areas: Pedagogy

Hit the Ground Running: A Seminar for New TFs

In this project-based seminar, a collaboration between the Bok Center and the Academic Technology Group (ATG), students will practically prepare for both the pedagogical and technological considerations of being a new TF. The seminar will follow the arc of the semester: each session will be devoted to a teaching topic (like the first day of class, or giving and receiving feedback) and include practical tips on how to use Canvas effectively. Participants should have a syllabus to use throughout the seminar (their own or one for a class they might teach) and they will have access to a sandbox Canvas site to use for practice. This seminar would be ideal for students teaching for the first time in the Fall term, but is open to anyone at the early stage of their teaching career who would like more guidance on basic pedagogy as well as on how to use Canvas.  

Focus Areas:  Pedagogy, Course and Assignment Design, Assessment

Designing a Syllabus

This course will guide participants through the basics of syllabus design.  We'll discuss how to frame courses successfully; how to select content; and how to present the syllabus aesthetically.  Participants will create a syllabus step-by-step to workshop in the final session(s) of the course.  Note: this course will be particularly useful to graduate students who are preparing to go on the job market or pitch courses to their departments.  

Focus Areas: Pedagogy, Course and Assignment Design

Intercultural Communication for ITFs and Scholars

In this interactive seminar, we will explore teaching and learning across cultures. We will learn about how our cultural values and communication styles influence classroom interactions like participating in discussions, presenting information, asking questions, building rapport, or giving and receiving feedback. We will also discuss how to work with these differences as teachers in order to handle challenging situations and to foster an inclusive and productive learning environment. Sessions will be devoted to a variety of topics on intercultural communication and participants will have opportunities to practice and get feedback on cross-cultural communication skills for Harvard classrooms and beyond. This seminar is designed for international TFs and scholars, but is open to anyone interested in developing intercultural competence.  

Focus Areas: Professional Communication, Language and Culture of the Classroom, Pedagogy

Writing a Statement of Teaching Philosophy

As those of you headed for the academic job market know, it is becoming increasingly standard for search committees to request that applicants submit a “Statement of Teaching Philosophy.” Unfortunately, applicants often find themselves struggling to prepare such statements at the last minute, often while also attempting to polish writing samples or even to finish dissertations. Moreover, as busy teachers and researchers, most of us find it difficult to carve out the necessary time and space to arrive at insightful and original positions on teaching, and we can’t very well offer a “Statement” if there’s no philosophy to state. We’ll begin by reading and discussing some short selections on the philosophy of teaching and the science of learning; then we’ll look at sample Teaching Statements before drafting, workshopping, and revising our own.  

Focus Areas: Professional Communication, Reflections on Teaching and Learning 

Fall Seminars

What Are My Students Actually Learning?

Are there students in your section who never speak up? When you return papers, do students look only at their grades and ignore your careful feedback? What concrete strategies can you use to help both you and your students get a more accurate read on what they actually understand? This seminar is designed to support Teaching Fellows in developing a repertoire of strategies for gauging and supporting students’ learning. In particular, we will focus on formative assessment — ongoing feedback (both formal and informal) that can be used by instructors to improve teaching and by students to improve their learning. By the end of the seminar, you will understand what formative assessment is, why it is a critical element of instructional practice and how to incorporate it into your teaching.

 

We will take a “learn by doing” approach; you will gain experience with the lived realities of the content by undertaking a series of simple field experiments in your own sections (with adapted assignments for any participants not currently teaching). The seminar will meet every two weeks throughout the fall semester. Enrollment is limited and priority will be given to active TFs who lead primarily discussion-based sections.

 

Focus Areas: Pedagogy, Course and Assignment Design, Assessment

 

Active Approaches to Problem-Based Teaching

 

Science, math and engineering necessitate strong problem-solving skills.  As teachers, how can we utilize the most effective strategies to break down problems and create opportunities for students to critically engage with the material? This seminar focuses on practical skills for creating active, inquiry-based classrooms that reflect the true nature of the sciences.  We will discuss how to design goal-oriented lesson plans, manage time in the classroom, effectively use the blackboard, and implement techniques for fostering an active, student-centered classroom. Class time will be split between discussing the pedagogy behind each topic and students putting into practice the material covered to design and teach a mini-lesson.

 

 

Audience: Priority will be given to those teaching in science, math or engineering

Focus Areas: Pedagogy

Make It Stick: Applying the Science of Learning to Your Teaching

Do you wonder how you can help your students learn more effectively and be able to remember and apply what they are learning well into the future? In this course, we will read the book, Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning, by Brown, Roediger, and McDaniel. The book explores recent discoveries from cognitive psychology in an accessible, engaging manner. Together, we will discuss how understanding the science of learning can impact the manner in which we teach and design our courses. Over the course of this seminar, each participant will develop strategies for enhancing student learning in a course they might teach.

 

 

 Focus Areas: Pedagogy

Teaching as Storytelling

Are you interested in improving your communication skills? Do you want to practice and get feedback on how you explain key concepts in your field? In this interactive, practice-based seminar, we’ll explore the role story plays in the classroom. Teaching, at its best, makes use of a number of tactics and skills that we can learn from storytellers and the stories they tell.  You will have the opportunity to learn about, explore and practice how these ideas work in your own disciplines.  The products for this seminar are two short, on-camera projects: a one-minute explanation of a key term or concept from your field, and a three-minute explanation of a topic of your choosing related to your teaching or scholarship.

 

Focus Areas: Professional Communication

 

Public Speaking for International Teachers and Scholars

This seminar is designed to help non-native speakers of English become aware of their habits of communication, both good and bad. Participants will learn concrete strategies to improve their pronunciation and public speaking skills in a variety of contexts, including classrooms, conferences, interviews, and a range of personal and professional interactions. In addition to developing a general skill set for public speaking (including overcoming stage fright), they will engage critically with recent research on teaching and learning in order to better structure both the content and the delivery of their thoughts.

 

This seminar is part of the Professional Communication Program for International Teachers and Scholars. 

Focus Areas: Professional Communication Language and Culture of the Classroom

Classroom Communication Skills for ITFs

This seminar is designed to help international graduate students develop the oral communication skills necessary to be successful in their graduate programs, with a particular emphasis on skills necessary for teaching in the Harvard classroom. Students will work on improving their oral English comprehensibility and accuracy, learn and practice general pedagogical strategies for teaching interactively, improve their impromptu speaking skills, and build their ability to interact effectively with undergraduates.

This seminar is part of the Professional Communication Program for International Teachers and Scholars. To apply, please contact Sadikshya Nepal at snepal@fas.harvard.edu.

Focus Areas: Professional Communication