Fall Teaching Conference & Winter Teaching Week

Fall Teaching Conference 2020

The Fall Teaching Conference is designed to prepare new and experienced graduate student teachers for their roles as Teaching Fellows in the FAS. This year’s conference will focus on the skills and tools essential to remote teaching.  We will explore best practices for course support and section teaching, and consider how those translate to a remote setting, especially in Canvas and Zoom.

The conference includes four complementary components, which you may take together or separately, depending on your needs and interests. Together, they will allow you to learn effective teaching techniques, share ideas with your peers, and practice teaching via Zoom.

Please note: The 2020 Fall Teaching Conference has concluded. Thank you for joining us for so many engaging sessions! You can find resources and follow-up materials from the synchronous training and many of the plenaries on the Hit the Ground Running Canvas site.

If you are an undergraduate Course Assistant, we will be offering a training on Tuesday, August 25 and Wednesday, August 26


Hit the Ground Running Canvas Site! Register for our new Canvas site, which features a series of self-paced modules designed to help you think through the basics of teaching and feel ready to tackle your remote teaching duties. You'll be prompted through modules on where to begin, TF roles and responsibilities, building and sustaining community online, and lesson planning and inclusive teaching. This site will continue to evolve, with additional modules and resources, as the fall term approaches.

Join the Canvas Site


Synchronous training. Once you have completed the modules on the Canvas site, register for a synchronous three-session training. Over the course of three days, you will have the chance to explore the fundamentals of teaching remotely in more depth, discuss and have the chance to practice and share ideas and strategies in a cohort of peers. Please note: synchronous training sessions are limited to GSAS PhD students and others at similar career stages engaged in the teaching of Harvard College undergraduates. All synchronous training cohorts are now closed. Please refer to the Canvas site for additional resources.


Practice teaching sessions. Once you have explored the Canvas site and participated in synchronous training, you may want to practice presenting a short lesson in Zoom. Take advantage of the opportunity to practice and get feedback from an experienced facilitator and a small group of your peers. Assignment: For your practice teaching please prepare a 3-5 minute definition of a basic concept from your field that undergraduates new to the field would learn in an introductory course. Consider how visuals might support your lesson; for example, you may share slides, practice using the Zoom whiteboard, or use the chat. This framework will help you prepare. After the lesson, you will have a chance to practice handling questions.

Practice teaching sessions will run daily from August 10 to August 20. Please note: these sessions are limited to GSAS PhD students and others at similar career stages engaged in the teaching of Harvard College undergraduates. Sessions are capped; sign up now!


Plenary sessions. Sign up for plenary sessions to learn from experts from across the university and delve into more detail on specific topics.  Don’t miss our opening plenary featuring Professor Robert Lue, the Faculty Director of the Bok Center and professor of Molecular and Cellular Biology, or the chance to learn from Erika Bailey, Head of Voice and Speech at the American Repertory Theater, on how to be engaging and stay engaged via Zoom! Please note: plenary sessions are limited to GSAS PhD students and others at similar career stages engaged in the teaching of Harvard College undergraduates. 

Once sessions are closed for registration, resources and follow-up materials will be available on the Hit the Ground Running Canvas site.

Plenary Session Date Time
Opening Plenary: Creating the New Normal as a Teacher-Scholar (Cancelled) Monday, August 10 11:30 am-12:30 pm EDT
Teaching with Presence…. even through Zoom! Tuesday, August 11 11:30 am-12:30 pm EDT
Equitable and Inclusive Teaching (Registration Closed) Wednesday, August 12 11:15 am-12:45 pm EDT
Responding to Student Writing Efficiently and Effectively (Registration Closed) Thursday, August 13 11:15 am-12:45 pm EDT
Designing and Delivering Online Language Instruction: A Discussion of Best Practices and Lessons Learned Thursday, August 13 3:30-4:30 pm EDT
Understanding Title IX as a Teaching Fellow Friday, August 14 11:00 am-12:30 pm EDT
Teaching Remotely with Images and Objects Across Disciplines (Registration Closed) Monday, August 17 11:15 am-12:30 pm EDT
The Language and Culture of the Harvard Classroom: A Panel for New International TFs Tuesday, August 18 8:00-9:30 am EDT
The Harvard Graduate Students Union-UAW and Our First Contract Tuesday, August 18 11:30 am-12:00 pm EDT
Academic Integrity in Remote Education Wednesday, August 19 11:00 am-12:00 pm EDT

Plenary Session Descriptions

Opening Plenary: Creating the New Normal as a Teacher-Scholar
Schedule: Monday, August 10, 11:30 am-12:30 pm EDT

Robert Lue, Richard L. Menschel Faculty Director of the Derek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning

In this opening plenary, hear some words of welcome and encouragement from the Bok Center’s Faculty Director as you think about how to approach your teaching under unprecedented circumstances this fall. As a graduate student and teacher, you are undertaking the exciting process of translating and transmitting your discipline to undergraduates, under remote circumstances, while at the same time developing as a scholar in your field. You will consider finding the balance in this work, and also explore real examples from Professor Lue’s teaching, as you think about how to implement active learning online.

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Teaching with Presence…. even through Zoom!
Schedule: Tuesday, August 11, 11:30 am-12:30 pm EDT

Erika Bailey, Head of Voice and Speech, American Repertory Theater; Lecturer on Theater, Dance & Media

We spend most of our time preparing for class by focusing on what we need to cover— what we need to SAY. But are we actually reaching our students? Our physical as well as our vocal presence play an integral role in our ability to engage students. In this session, we will build vocabulary for effective and engaging speaking, and practice teaching as a physical act. Using exercises from the theatre, we’ll explore how to better use your voice, your physical expression, and your relationship to the spaces in which you teach.

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Equitable and Inclusive Teaching
Schedule: Wednesday, August 12, 11:15 am–12:45 pm EDT

Noelle Lopez, Assistant Director, Equity and Inclusion, Derek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning
Marty Samuels, Head of Content, LabXchange

In this session we’ll introduce some key concepts from the research on inclusive teaching, consider common challenges to fostering equitable and inclusive learning environments, and discuss strategies you can use to create conditions conducive to helping your students feel both welcome and capable of learning effectively in your classroom.

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Responding to Student Writing Efficiently and Effectively
Schedule: Thursday, August 13, 11:15 am–12:45 pm EDT

Jonah Johnson, Assistant Director for Writing Pedagogy, Derek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning; Head Preceptor in the Writing Program

Have you graded a thousand papers and need some new ideas? Are you worried about how much time you spend grading? Do you need help managing your time, or wonder about how to give feedback that will be the most helpful to students? In this session, we’ll discuss best practices for responding to student writing. We’ll address questions including: How can you write the most effective and efficient margin and end comments? How can you help students with a wide range of writing problems? And how can your responses engage students as writers and thinkers? You will come away with useful strategies to employ on that next stack of papers.

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Designing and Delivering Online Language Instruction: A Discussion of Best Practices and Lessons Learned
Schedule: Thursday, August 13, 3:30-4:30 pm EDT

Andrew Ross, Director of the Language Center
Panelists: Aleksandra Kudryashova (German Studies), Rodrigo del Rio (Romance Languages and Literatures), Christian Struck (German Studies), and Emma Zitzow-Childs (Romance Languages and Literatures)

Online second language learning requires techniques and affordances that are unique to the discipline. How can TFs engaged in this work best learn and leverage theoretically grounded technical and pedagogical approaches to ensure the best possible learning outcomes? In summer 2020, a number of teaching fellows across a range of languages participated in training hosted by the Language Center to prepare them to develop and deliver successful online courses in an accelerated format. In this panel, they, and the Director of the Language Center, will briefly discuss their experiences in the training and subsequent teaching, provide insights on best practices, and share their perspectives on what makes a successful online language course.

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Understanding Title IX as a Teaching Fellow
Schedule: Friday, August 14, 11:00 am-12:30 pm EDT

Seth Avakian, Program Officer for Title IX and Professional Conduct for the FAS
Danielle Farrell, Director of Student Services, GSAS

This session will address principles of professional conduct and classroom management for teachers as it relates to Title IX responsibilities and Harvard’s commitment to gender equity. We’ll discuss how one balances Harvard University’s commitment to the free exchange of ideas while maintaining a safe and healthy educational and work environment in which no member of the community is excluded from participation in, denied the benefits of, or subjected to discrimination in any University program or activity on the basis of their sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity. Participants will learn how to handle a disclosure of a potential violation of the sexual and gender-based harassment policy and participate in hypothetical scenarios based on real-life experiences of TFs.

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Teaching Remotely with Images and Objects Across Disciplines
Schedule: Monday, August 17, 11:15 am–12:30 pm EDT

Jen Thum, Inga Maren Otto Curatorial Fellow, Harvard Art Museums
Rebecca Miller Brown, Assistant Director, Graduate Student Programming, Derek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning

A Van Gogh analyzed by medical students. A landscape to think about climate change. Post-war prints to discuss the lives of noncombatants. Each semester, classes from disciplines across the university—on topics ranging from environmental science to poetry—engage with original works of art at the Harvard Art Museums. Works of art can illustrate arguments, give tangible expression to ideas, and provide a means to engage with concepts and build skills in new and novel ways. In this online workshop, we will use a variety of objects from the collection of the Harvard Art Museums – most of which have been featured in real Zoom classes – to demonstrate strategies for engaging students in the online space. We will discuss strategies to encourage students to look closely and think critically, and promote active learning with works of art in your teaching. Participants will also learn how they can collaborate with the museums’ staff for remote and in-person visits in the future.

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The Language and Culture of the Harvard Classroom: A Panel for New International TFs
Schedule: Tuesday, August 18, 8:00-9:30 am EDT

Sarah Emory, Assistant Director, International Teachers and Scholars, Derek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning

Are you a TF who got your undergraduate degree at an institution outside the U.S.? If so, you may have questions about teaching undergraduates at Harvard. How might the undergraduate experience here differ from your own experience? As an International TF, what do you need to know to navigate teaching at Harvard? In this interactive panel discussion, you will have the opportunity to explore issues related to teaching across borders and boundaries and hear from Harvard undergraduate students and experienced international TFs. Undergraduate students will share their perspectives on what strategies effective TFs use, and experienced TFs will discuss what they found useful when they started teaching at Harvard. Both groups will discuss how building connections and rapport will help you be a more effective communicator and teacher.

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The Harvard Graduate Students Union-UAW and Our First Contract
Schedule: Tuesday, August 18, 11:30 am-12:00 pm EDT

Maya Anjur-Dietrich, Applied Physics, HGSU-UAW Interim Grievance Committee Co-Chair
Tim Barker, History

This session will provide a brief orientation to the Harvard Graduate Students Union-UAW (HGSU-UAW). We will discuss the benefits and rights contained in our first contract, ways the union can help Teaching Fellows with workplace issues, and mechanisms of contract enforcement, as well as future plans.

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Academic Integrity in Remote Education
Schedule: Wednesday, August 19, 11:00 am- 12:00 pm EDT

Brett Flehinger, Associate Dean of Academic Integrity and Student Conduct
Brigitte Libby, Assistant Dean for Academic Integrity and Student Conduct

What should you know about academic integrity at Harvard College as you prepare to teach this year?  This session offers an overview of the Honor Code, the Honor Council, and the most common types of concerns that come to the Council.  We will also offer suggestions for how you can help students approach their academic work with integrity and learn as effectively as possible, especially while courses are being held remotely.  As James Lang writes in Cheating Lessons (Harvard University Press, 2013, p. 39), “The environments which reduce the incentive and opportunity to cheat are the very ones that…will lead to greater and deeper learning by your students.”

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Graduate Student News

Check out our TF Handbook!

Hit the Ground RunningThe Bok Center's Hit the Ground Running is a great place to start when you have questions about who your students are, their expectations of their Teaching Fellows, how to create an inclusive classroom, how to structure a lesson plan, and much more! Read it online, or stop by the Bok Center to pick up a hard copy. Copies are distributed at the Fall Teaching Conference and Winter Teaching Week.