Bok Seminars

bok seminars Bok Seminars cover a full range of topics in teaching, learning, and scholarly communication and are designed for GSAS students at every stage of teaching. We offer core seminars consistently each year, as well as new and rotating seminars each term. Though all Bok Seminars emphasize shared principles and practices, our offerings are organized into broad categories based on target audience and topic: FoundationsMethods & Classroom PracticeEquity & InclusionCommunication & Language, and Professional Development (for experienced TFs).

Seminars meet for 6 sessions unless otherwise noted. Registration for and attendance at each seminar session is mandatory. Students who miss more than one session will not receive credit for the seminar for the Bok Teaching Certificate.

Seminar Category Schedule Location Register

Foundations of Teaching in the Humanities and Social Sciences

FOUNDATIONS

TBD

TBD

Opens 12/1/2019

Let’s Play! What Games Can Teach Us about Motivation and Engagement METHODS TBD TBD Opens 12/1/2019
Crafting Your Teaching Persona: Power, Presence, and Performance EQUITY TBD TBD Opens 12/1/2019
Linguistic Diversity in the Classroom EQUITY TBD TBD Opens 12/1/2019
Classroom Communication Skills for International TFs  COMMUNICATION TBD TBD Opens 12/1/2019
Clarity and Coherence for International TFs COMMUNICATION TBD TBD Opens 12/1/2019
Communicating Science  COMMUNICATION TBD TBD Opens 12/1/2019
Course Design: From Transparency to Transfer PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT TBD TBD Opens 12/1/2019
Mentoring: How to Advise (and be Advised) PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT TBD TBD Opens 12/1/2019
Seminar Category Schedule Location Register
Foundations of Teaching in STEM FOUNDATIONS Tue 9am-11am Sept 17-Oct 22

 50 Church St
Room 375

Wait List

How Am I Doing? Using Feedback to Improve Your Teaching 

METHODS Thu 1:30–3:30 pm Sept 19–Oct 24 125 Mt Auburn St
Room 307
Register Now
Teaching with Images and Objects METHODS Fri 1:30–3:30 pm Sept 27–Nov 1 125 Mt Auburn St
Room 307
Register Now
 Tools and Techniques for Leading Classroom Discussions  METHODS Mon 4:30-6:30pm Sept 30- Nov 11 (no class Columbus Day)  125 Mt Auburn St
Room 307
Wait List
Visual Teaching Studio  METHODS Wed 1:30-3:00 pm Sept 18-Nov 6 50 Church St 3rd Floor
Learning Lab
Register Now
Classroom Dynamics: Navigating Obstacles to Equity and Inclusion EQUITY Wed 10:30 am–12:30 pm Oct 2–Nov 6 50 Church St
Room 375
Register Now
Classroom Communication Skills for International TFs COMMUNICATION TBD 125 Mt Auburn St
Room 307
Closed
Public Speaking for Teachers and Scholars COMMUNICATION Mon 9:00-11:00 am Sept 30- Nov 11 (no class Columbus Day)  125 Mt Auburn St
Room 307
Wait List
Teaching and the Job Market: Getting from "TF" to "Colleague" PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT Tue 1:30- 3:30 pm Sept 10- Oct 29 50 Church St
Room 375
Closed
Seminar Category Schedule Location Register
Hit the Ground Running: A Seminar for New TFs FOUNDATIONS TBD TBD Opens 5/1/2020
Problems and P-Sets: Creating and Teaching Questions in STEM METHODS TBD TBD Opens 5/1/2020
Teaching with Purpose: An Introduction to Critical Pedagogy  EQUITY TBD TBD Opens 5/1/2020
Public Speaking for Teachers and Scholars COMMUNICATION TBD TBD Opens 5/1/2020
Speak Up! Pronunciation for International TFs  COMMUNICATION TBD TBD Opens 5/1/2020
Teaching and the Job Market: Getting from "TF" to "Colleague" PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT TBD TBD Opens 5/1/2020

Bok Seminar Catalogue

Foundations

Foundations seminars cover the basics of teaching, with a disciplinary focus during the year and general preparation for new TFs in the summer.

Foundations of Teaching in STEM (Fall)
Led by Marty Samuels

This seminar is designed to help cultivate the knowledge and skills necessary for effectively teaching collegiate science and engineering. We aim to help you make your classes as inspiring and empowering as the research you conduct at your lab, studio, or office by importing the enthusiasm of discovery into your classroom. In so doing, this seminar will rely heavily on the evidenced-based practices on teaching and learning in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics), and provide ample opportunity for you to practice applying this research to your own teaching. We will focus on identifying and writing student-centered learning goals, developing a variety of active learning exercises that facilitate student learning, and writing effective problem set and exam questions to inspire and measure learning, while fostering an inclusive classroom environment. These skills will be discussed as both applicable to leading a section in a class as a new TF or to developing a class of your own as a more experienced teacher.

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Foundations of Teaching in the Humanities and Social Sciences (Spring)
Led by Rebecca Brown

Teaching in the humanities and social sciences presents challenges, due in large part to the ambiguity and interpretive richness inherent in these disciplines. In addition to introducing your students to the complex subject matter of your course, you are also tasked with helping them improve as critical and thoughtful readers, writers, and discussion participants. How can you prepare to teach outside your area of expertise, and how do you balance the course content with teaching these critical skills? In this seminar, we will explore and practice strategies and techniques for teaching your students to read, write, and discuss like a humanist or social scientist, and at the same time help you reside more comfortably in your own authority and use it to achieve your goals with your students. Our focus on these foundational activities should prove especially useful to new and early-career teachers, but more experienced teachers are also welcome to share their wisdom and revisit their approaches.

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Hit the Ground Running: A Seminar for New TFs (Summer)
Led by Pamela Pollock and Rebecca Brown

What can new TFs do to get ready for the first day of class and beyond? In this seminar, you will practically prepare to teach for the first time, learn about resources available to you as you begin your teaching career, and build confidence in the process! We will follow the arc of the semester; each session will be devoted to a teaching topic, including the first day of class, inclusive teaching, lesson planning and delivery, and giving and receiving feedback. Participants should have a syllabus to use throughout the seminar (their own or one for a class they might teach). This seminar is 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 practice with and guidance on basic pedagogy.

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Methods & Classroom Practice

Methods & Classroom Practice seminars go into more detail on specific techniques to use in the classroom and offer new and experienced TFs opportunities to practice teaching strategies.

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How Am I Doing?  Using Feedback to Improve Your Teaching (Fall)
Led by Pamela Pollock and Rebecca Brown

We may wonder or worry about how we’re doing as teachers-- but how do we know? Our own interpretations may not be accurate, and end-of-semester Q-evaluations come too late to make any changes in the current semester. But it doesn’t have to be this way! In this seminar, we will begin by exploring the nature of feedback and the role of feedback in developing as teachers. We will review, discuss, and model effective mechanisms for collecting feedback, making sense of it, and using it to improve our practice-- in the pursuit of better learning, classroom experiences, and final course evaluations. By the end of the seminar, you will create your own plan for collecting feedback, which may include some combination of early feedback, classroom assessment techniques (CATs), critical reflective practice, and peer observations within and/or across disciplines. You will also start thinking about how to document the process of collecting and responding to feedback for the purpose of developing your teaching portfolio.

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Let’s Play! What Games Can Teach Us about Motivation and Engagement (Spring)
Led by Lauren Davidson and the Learning Lab Team

We all know games, at least in some sense. In particular, we know how good they are at motivating and engaging us—games are addictive! But most of us haven’t given any real thought to the mechanics that make games so engaging: challenge level that adapts to our skill; continuous feedback via rewards and penalties; timers; stories and surprises; structured interactions with other people, to name a few. Through these mechanics, games have much to teach us about designing classroom experiences. While we won’t necessarily design games in this seminar, over the course of six weeks in the Learning Lab we’ll build a toolkit of game mechanics and principles that we can incorporate into our assignment and course design. As we build this toolkit, we’ll also deploy it. Each week we’ll (1) explore a new mechanic or principle, (2) reflect on how this mechanic might be used in the classroom to generate excitement, add challenge, or structure activities, and (3) design assignments and activities that incorporate the mechanic for our courses. Along the way, we’ll be getting feedback from the Learning Lab Undergraduate Fellows who test the materials we produce in the Learning Lab.

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Problems and P-Sets: Creating and Teaching Questions in STEM (Summer)
Led by Marty Samuels

When you first begin teaching, you may be confronted with the task of writing problem set questions. What considerations should you keep in mind when doing so? This seminar will focus on developing problems and questions for science and math courses. We will focus on crafting meaningful problems that motivate student learning and that are based on the concepts and skills taught in class. By writing problems for our own disciplines, we will consider the rhetorical questions students should ask themselves as they solve the problems, and how these rhetorical questions mirror the prompting questions you can use to lead problem solving sessions during a weekly section or office hours.  Additionally, we will get practice and feedback on teaching the problems that we create.

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Teaching with Images and Objects (Fall)
Led by Rebecca Brown

Images and objects are valuable tools for teachers: they illustrate arguments, give tangible expression to ideas, and provide a means to engage with concepts in new and novel ways, but how can they be integrated most effectively in class? How can we teach students to “read” them carefully and critically? In this seminar we will explore and practice strategies for encouraging analytical reasoning, critical thinking, and observational skills through engagement with images and objects both inside and outside of the classroom. We will consider what constitutes visual literacy in different subject areas, ranging from archaeology to history to biology to literature, and develop techniques for teaching students how to look at and evaluate different forms of visual evidence. By the end of the seminar, you will have created: a catalog of images and objects from your discipline to use in your teaching, and an assignment focused on enhancing students' observational and analytical skills using visual materials. This seminar is designed for new and experienced TFs from all disciplines and requires no prior experience of teaching with images or objects.

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Tools and Techniques for Leading Classroom Discussions (Fall)
Led by Thomas Wisniewski

How can you lead an exciting discussion and keep participants engaged from beginning to end? Which pedagogical techniques and strategies might be the most useful for working with undergraduates? This seminar offers both a theoretical and hands-on approach to leading discussions and encouraging student participation in classes of all sizes. To that end, we will discuss short articles on discussion pedagogy, awkward versus meaningful silences, and active and embodied learning. We will read case studies and evaluate taped discussion sessions. In examining the pros and cons of various methods of how to start, structure, and conclude a discussion, we will also strategize how to deal with “hot moments” in the classroom and will take turns teaching short simulations of discussions followed by collaborative peer feedback. This seminar will be useful for building your confidence as a new TF as well as interrogating your methods and refining your skills as an experienced teacher.

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Visual Teaching Studio (Fall)
Led by Marlon Kuzmick

Many of the things we need to explain as teachers are best explained visually. Sometimes the data that we are analyzing is itself visual (a Frida Kahlo painting, C. elegans anatomy); sometimes we find it useful to visualize something that is actually quite abstract in order to render it more concrete to students (a process, a hierarchy, a dataset). In this seminar we will expand our repertoire of visual moves by learning new tools (both digital and physical), by repeatedly practicing our skills in a low-stakes environment, and, crucially, by getting constructive feedback from undergraduate students. Each week we will meet in the Bok Center’s Learning Lab Studio to experiment with something new—art supplies, video equipment, visualization software—and we will produce works of visual teaching that we’ll present to our Learning Lab Undergraduate Fellows (LLUFs) for feedback. Participants are welcome to come to the entire seminar, or to choose sessions based on interest. No previous experience with artistic or technological tools is required.

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Equity & Inclusion

Equity & Inclusion seminars cover issues like critical pedagogies, equity, and power and privilege in the classroom.

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Classroom Dynamics: Navigating Obstacles to Equity and Inclusion (Fall)
Led by Noelle Lopez

As universities strive to become more equitable and inclusive, what is your role as a TF in navigating obstacles to these aims? How do these obstacles manifest in the classroom, and what can you do once you identify them? How can you mediate when discussions related to identity get tense, for example, or when student writing “crosses the line”? Fostering an equitable and inclusive learning environment requires skill and practice, given the diversity of identities in the classroom as well as the unique histories of race, class, immigration, gender and more both within and beyond the U.S. Through short readings, activities and dialogue with peer teachers, and a conversation with the Bok Center’s Undergraduate Pedagogy Fellows, this seminar will give you an opportunity to build confidence handling challenging classroom dynamics. Together we will develop an understanding of our own obstacles to fostering equity and inclusion in the classroom, considering our personal inclinations and habits in navigating obstacles in order to identify areas for learning and growth. 

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Teaching with Purpose: An Introduction to Critical Pedagogy (Summer)
Led by Eleanor Craig and Noelle Lopez

What makes learning meaningful and empowering for students? How can we as teachers develop classroom practices that reflect our social values and commitments? How do we support students in bridging life experience and rigorous study? This seminar will engage these questions through the lens of critical pedagogy. We'll consider the emergence of critical pedagogy in particular contexts of social justice struggles, and we'll explore ways to bring critical power analysis to teaching in a variety of disciplines. Participants will reflect individually and collectively on how critical pedagogical theories might transform teaching practice in Harvard classrooms and beyond. Participants should plan to do reading between meetings. Readings will include works by authors such as Paulo Freire, Sara Ahmed, and bell hooks. All levels of teaching experience welcome!

Enrollment is capped at 12 participants.

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Crafting Your Teaching Persona: Power, Presence, and Performance (Spring)
 

What are the roles that a teacher plays, and how does the teacher’s presence in the classroom affect students’ willingness to engage in learning?  How might the introduction of essential performance skills like awareness and risk- taking impact the learning environment? And what strategies can be used to promote equity, encourage participation, and reconsider power dynamics between students and instructor alike? In this Bok Seminar, led by theater professionals based at the Bok Center’s Learning Lab, we’ll use short readings, role plays, discussion, games, and other experiential activities to identify the complexity of the teacher’s persona. Through playful exploration, we’ll discover how to balance a critical awareness of our role as educators with the familiar advice to “just be yourself” in the classroom. Together, we’ll model techniques for encouraging diverse perspectives on difficult topics, building trust among learners, and harnessing conflict as a resource for learning. 

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Linguistic Diversity in the Classroom (Spring)
Led by Pamela Pollock

How do differences in language background play out in the classroom? What are different ways to consider students’ proficiency and facility with the English language (or the language of instruction), either as native or non-native English speakers, and how can that help you consider how you design your classes, give feedback, and foster an inclusive classroom? In this seminar we will study the American Council for Teaching Foreign Languages (ACTFL) oral proficiency guidelines, a common scale used by foreign language teachers internationally, and explore how they help us think about communication skills and what students need. We will also look at readings from the language ideology literature, and attitudes around language backgrounds, accent and speaking skills and how these may play out in the classroom. This seminar is designed for language teachers, but is appropriate for any TF interested in learning more about language proficiency and linguistic diversity in the classroom. 

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Communication & Language

Communication & Language seminars offer students guidance and practice in finding their voices as teachers, as well as English language seminars though our Professional Communication Program for International Teachers and Scholars.

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Classroom Communication Skills for International TFs (Fall, Spring)
Led by Sarah Emory
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Are you an international graduate student who would like to improve your communication skills for the classroom and beyond? In this seminar, you will work on building oral communication skills necessary for your graduate program, with a particular emphasis on skills necessary for teaching in the Harvard classroom. Specifically, you will practice strategies for improving your oral English comprehensibility and accuracy, learn and practice general pedagogical strategies for interactive teaching, improve your impromptu speaking skills, and build your ability to interact effectively with undergraduates. This seminar is designed for students who have not met the GSAS language requirement, or who want to focus on strengthening fluency, vocabulary, grammar and the pronunciation of spoken English in the Harvard classroom context. Interview required for course registration

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Clarity and Coherence for International TFs (Spring)
Led by Sarah Emory

As an International TF, you communicate with your students and colleagues both orally and in writing. You may feel more comfortable with your written English as you can take time to plan and review your message before sharing it. What challenges occur in your oral English that do not occur in your written English? How can you use your writing skills to build awareness of how to improve your oral communication? This seminar uses writing to reinforce speaking skills, and is designed to help international graduate students develop ways to improve English grammar, fluency, and coherence. Through written activities like summaries, process documents, and narratives, and oral activities like discussions and short presentations, students will assess their own language for gaps and practice strategies to improve their English accuracy and comprehensibility. This course is designed for students with TOEFL iBT speaking scores of 19-24.

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Communicating Science (Spring)
 

What audiences are you likely to encounter over the course of your career and how will you vary your communication to meet the challenges presented by each? Are you able, within a few minutes, to convey the importance of your research to a faculty member in another STEM discipline or to a relative who has no background in science?  As a scientist, it is imperative to clearly and concisely explain your research in a way that motivates, engages and/or persuades different audiences.  In this seminar, we will develop and practice skills to meaningfully and clearly convey science research to different audiences, including your peers, grant proposal readers, students and the public.  We will  consider narrative techniques to motivate audiences, how to best use verbal and visual explanations, the appropriate use of purpose of jargon, and strategies to surface and address common misconceptions.  Each week we will focus on a different audience/mode to practice communicating our own research.

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Enhancing Fluency: Speaking and Listening for International TFs (Fall)
Led by Sarah Emory

Are you an international graduate student who is interested in developing oral communication skills to be more successful in your program? Do you need to strengthen your fluency to meet the GSAS Oral Proficiency Requirement?  Designed as a prerequisite for our popular Classroom Communication Skills for International TFs seminar, this interactive seminar will help you work on expanding your vocabulary in English as well as honing listening strategies and impromptu speaking skills. Through practice both in and out of class, you will set goals, have ample opportunities to converse on various topics, and gain experience presenting in English. This seminar is a resource for you if  you have not yet met the GSAS language requirement or if you are interested in building your English listening, fluency, vocabulary, grammar, and pronunciation skills. Interview required for course registration. Interview required for course registration

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Public Speaking for International Teachers and Scholars (Fall)
Led by Pamela Pollock

This seminar is designed to help non-native speakers of English become aware of their habits of communication, both good and bad. Public speaking is stressful for everyone, and the norms associated with it can be quite culturally based. In this seminar we will address these issues with a specific lenses for international teachers and scholars. You will learn concrete strategies to improve your pronunciation and public speaking skills in a variety of contexts, including classrooms, conferences, interviews, and a range of personal and professional interactions. Each week we will focus on a different speaking task and focus. This seminar is suitable for non-native English speakers of all levels, backgrounds and abilities. 

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Public Speaking for Teachers and Scholars (Summer, Fall)
Led by Pamela Pollock

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, especially when teaching or communicating your research. You will consider both what to say and how to say it; practice the basics of crafting a talk; understand, address, and overcome their individual public-speaking anxieties,  and develop the skills to make any presentation compelling. By presenting to the class each session, you will build exceptional hands-on experience in projection, gesturing, interacting with the audience, vocal and emotional variety, using volume to command attention, and the power of silence.

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Speak Up!  Pronunciation for International TFs (Summer)
Led by Sarah Emory

As a non-native English speaking teacher or scholar, what are strategies you can apply to improve your comprehensibility when speaking English? What are features of English pronunciation you can use to make it easy for others to follow you? This hands-on, interactive seminar is designed to help you assess your own pronunciation and provide focused practice on common issues that affect comprehensibility. Each week, we will complete exercises and activities that highlight different pronunciation features such as intonation, word and sentence stress, pausing, rhythm, linking, and emphasis. Through focused practice, you will develop awareness and confidence when communicating with others, whether in class, in conversations, or at conferences. This seminar is suitable for non-native English speakers of all levels, backgrounds and abilities.

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Professional development

Professional development seminars target topics of interest to more experienced TFs, including course design and the job market.

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Course Design: From Transparency to Transfer (Spring)
Led by Marty Samuels and Jonah Johnson

If you were offered the opportunity to design a course from scratch, what principles would you use to guide your course design? In this seminar, led jointly by a scientist and a humanist, we will read and discuss contemporary research on teaching and learning to identify what goals we should consider “central” to our course and how students are most likely to achieve them. We will also work together to identify principles of  instructional design that allow our own teaching goals, e.g., creating empathetic environments that put students at the center, to become affective learning goals for our students along with the course’s content-based goals. Over the course of the seminar, you will develop a novel syllabus, course proposal, or other design-related project. The seminar culminates in a showcase, at which we reflect on our process and share our creations. Participants must be experienced TFs (at least one semester of teaching) and have a course design project in mind. 

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Mentoring: How to Advise (and be Advised) (Spring)
Led by Adam Beaver

As a graduate student, poised at a relatively early stage of your academic career, you are accustomed to being on the receiving end of mentoring. You’ve probably developed a sense of the kinds of advice, interactions, and power dynamics that are helpful (as well as those that aren’t). Soon, if not already, the tables may turn, and you will be called upon to mentor others—whether a senior thesis advisee at Harvard, a group of undergraduates or graduate students in your first academic job, or the staff of a lab at a university or in private industry. How can you step back from your own experiences as an advisee and think about not only what worked (and didn’t work), but why it worked (or didn’t)? As you develop your own approach as an advisor, how can you make sure to create opportunities not only to give advice, but to receive feedback from those whom you advise? What do you owe to the people who look up to you, and what can you expect from them in return? In this seminar we’ll read accounts of academic advising, work through scenarios, and discuss our own experiences as both mentors and mentees to develop personalized models of the kinds of advisors (and advisees) we’d like to be.

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Teaching and the Job Market: Getting From “TF” to “Colleague” (Summer, Fall)
Led by Adam Beaver and Eleanor Finnegan

Are you on or near the job market? Enthused or concerned about the prospect of assembling a teaching portfolio, writing a syllabus, or giving a teaching demonstration? Wondering what, exactly, a “teaching philosophy” is, and how you get one? While Harvard hopefully has given you opportunities to practice and receive feedback on your teaching, it is often the case that your career as a TF is shaped by forces beyond your control: that is to say, that you’ve taught in courses, in modalities, and with assignments set by someone else, which may or may not reflect your own personality as an instructor. When you hit the job market, then, it’s natural to feel some anxiety about how to explain who you are as a teacher in a coherent and compelling way. Do you have enough experience? The right kind of experience? The answer, of course, is yes: yes, you do. The challenge is how to organize and communicate that experience in a way that will show a search committee not just what you have done, but also how much you’ve learned from it, and that you are likely you keep developing in the right direction as a colleague. In this seminar you will get intense, hands-on experience designing a teaching statement, a syllabus, a portfolio, and a teaching demo.  

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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.