While faculty can benefit from many kinds of assistance with their teaching, the Bok Center understands that what you need most is a partner to help you think through your goals and ideas, and a support team to help with the challenges of developing new material and experimenting with new modes of teaching. We offer a full menu of services and resources that can help you with course design, with training your teaching staff, and with evolving your classroom practice.
Many of the faculty with whom we speak are eager to design, or redesign, some (or all) of a new or existing course. Undertaking this work can be daunting, requiring hours of solitary effort with a very uncertain reward.
The Bok team offers faculty three resources that can lower dramatically the bar to pedagogical renewal:
- Best Practices. Faculty curious about "best practices" around setting course goals, designing assignments, implementing active learning techniques, or anything else may find our online resource repository a great place to start.
- Design Consultation. Faculty who want to sit down with a small team of instructional designers should contact Adam Beaver, Director of Pedagogy and Practice.
- Learning Lab. Faculty who wish to experiment with a new modality of teaching—and to have the opportunity to test an activity or assignment on a team of undergraduate and graduate student fellows—may consider launching a project with the Learning Lab.
The Bok Center hosts an annual series of faculty lunch conversations on aspects of teaching and learning. Each lunch is moderated by one or more faculty colleagues, who share their experiences in the classroom and lead a broad discussion of the lessons learned and opportunities for adaptation. The Bok Center follows up with attendees to forward resources that may be of interest in light of the presentation.
Bok Exploratory Seminars offer faculty a collaborative space to deliberate the most urgent problems and potentially transformational opportunities in Higher Education, with the primary goal of developing interventions that will chart the course of future teaching and learning at Harvard. Inspired by the Exploratory Seminars of the Radcliffe Institute, each seminar is led by a faculty committee made up of stakeholders whose current or future teaching is highly informed by the seminar’s theme.
The Bok Center was founded in 1975 as a video laboratory, allowing faculty for the first time to experience their own teaching as if they were a student in their class. Four decades later, we still believe that having your lecture or seminar recorded and viewing it with a consultant is one of the very best ways to take stock of your teaching style and to brainstorm ways to expand your repertoire. Our video team is professional and available free of charge to all instructors.
For faculty teaching courses in which videotaping would be intrusive or logistically difficult—or in which the pedagogical style is best experienced "in the moment"—the Bok Center is happy to send a member of our senior staff to observe your teaching live. The consultant will record notes on what he/she observes and (ideally) debrief the class directly afterwards with you, with many of the same benefits that accrue to instructors who watch themselves on video.
The fact that one's teaching, unlike the other spheres of faculty life, is relatively free from the constant scrutiny of peer review can be a relief. But it can also make teaching—which should, fundamentally, be a social activity full of experimentation—into a lonely or isolating experience. At the Bok Center we are happy to meet with faculty who are facing some challenge in their teaching, whether it be as simple as a need for more manpower to implement a new idea, or as complex as a desire to change the way one relates to one's students. All consultations are entirely confidential.
The Faculty Fellows program enables a small number of faculty to focus on interesting and impactful ideas in teaching and learning. The Bok Center provides faculty fellows with the context, human support, and resources to enable them to pursue their projects.
Applied theatre is an evolving field that brings familiar, complex situations to life in order to examine them more fully. The Bok Players, founded in 2007, re-enact scenarios drawn from real life before engaging faculty audiences in reflecting upon the emotional content inherent in charged situations and conversing more freely about what we see.