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 Schedule Location Register
Foundations of Teaching in STEM Mondays, 2:00-4:00 pm, January 29-March 5 50 Church Street, Room 375 closed
Foundations of Teaching in the Humanities and Social Sciences Tuesdays, 2:00-4:00 pm, January 30-March 6 50 Church Street, Room 375 closed
Designing “Alternative” Assignments & Activities (a Learning Lab Seminar) Wednesdays, 2:00-4:00 pm, January 31-March 7 50 Church Street, LL closed
Teaching with Purpose: Critical Pedagogy in Practice Thursdays, 10:00 am-12:00 pm, February 1-March 8 50 Church Street, Room 375 closed
Public Speaking for Teachers and Scholars Section 1: Tuesdays, 9:00-12:00 pm, April 3rd, 10th, 17th, and 24th | Section 2: Thursdays, 12:00-3:00 pm, April 5th, 12th, 19th, and 26th 50 Church Street, Room 375 closed
Teaching Practice for International Teachers and Scholars Thursdays, 10:00-12:00pm, February 1-March 8 125 Mt. Auburn Street, Room 307 closed
Teaching and Learning Across Cultures Thursdays 2:00-4:00pm, February 1-March 8 125 Mt. Auburn Street, Room 307 closed
English, Culture, and Communicating Science: A Seminar for International SEAS Graduate Students Tuesdays and Thursdays 5:30-7:00pm, January 30-April 26 Maxwell-Dworkin, Room 221 closed
Seminar Category Schedule Location Register
Foundations of Teaching in STEM FOUNDATIONS M 3:00-5:00 pm, 9/17-10/29 (no class Columbus Day) 50 Church Street closed
Tools and Techniques for Leading Classroom Discussions METHODS M 4:00-6:00 pm, 10/1-11/12 (no class Columbus Day) 125 Mt. Auburn Street closed
Power and Ethics in the Classroom EQUITY W 10:00 am-12:00 pm, 10/3-11/7 50 Church Street closed
Public Speaking for Teachers and Scholars COMMUNICATION W 12:00-3:00 pm, 10/3-10/24 50 Church Street closed
Public Speaking for Teachers and Scholars, Part II COMMUNICATION W 3:00-6:00 pm, 10/3-10/24 50 Church Street closed
Public Speaking for International Teachers and Scholars COMMUNICATION Th 2:00-4:00 pm, 9/20-10/25 125 Mt. Auburn Street closed
Classroom Communication Skills for International TFs COMMUNICATION Tu/Th 10:30-12:00 pm, 9/10-12/4 125 Mt. Auburn Street closed
Teaching and the Job Market: Getting from "TF" to "Colleague" PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT Tu 2:00-4:00 pm, 9/11-10/30 50 Church Street closed
Seminar Schedule Location Register
Hit the Ground Running: A Seminar for New TFs Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, June 11-21, 10:00 am-12:00 pm 125 Mt. Auburn Street, Room 307 closed
Problems and P-Sets: Creating and Teaching Questions in STEM Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, July 9-20, 3:00-5:00 pm 50 Church Street, Room 375 closed
How Am I Doing? Using Feedback to Improve Your Teaching Mondays and Wednesdays, June 11-June 27, 2:00 pm-4:00 pm 125 Mt. Auburn Street, Room 307 closed
Teaching with Purpose: Critical Pedagogy in Practice Tuesdays and Thursdays, July 10-26, 10:00 am-12:00 pm 50 Church Street, Room 375 closed
Public Speaking for Teachers and Scholars Monday, Wednesday, Friday, June 25, 27, 29, Monday, July 2 (4 sessions), 12:00 pm-3:00 pm 50 Church Street, Room 375 closed
Teaching and the Job Market: Getting from "TF" to "Colleague" Wednesdays and Fridays, July 11-August 3 (8 sessions), 10:00 am-12:00 pm 125 Mount Auburn Street, 3rd Floor Open Space closed

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 students to practice applying this research to their 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.

Back to top

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

Teaching in the humanities and social sciences presents many challenges, not least of which is that it is very hard to prepare a script or to identify foolproof “tips and tricks.” Because these disciplines are attracted to ambiguity and value interpretive richness, every class discussion could, in theory, go in an infinite variety of directions; frequently you, as the teacher, are learning something completely new about the material at the very same time as you are teaching it to the students. How, then, can you learn to reside comfortably in your own authority, and to feel confident in your ability to manage complex discussions? Are there any reliable ways to improve your students’ writing? What are the most important things you want to achieve with your students? In this seminar we will equip you to teach your students how to read, how to discuss, and how to write like a humanist or social scientist. While our focus on these foundational activities should prove especially useful to new and early-career teachers, more experienced teachers are also welcome to share their wisdom and revisit their approaches.

Back to top

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

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, giving and receiving feedback, and using 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 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 guidance on basic pedagogy as well as on how to use Canvas. 

Back to top

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.

Back to top

Designing “Alternative” Assignments & Activities (a Learning Lab Seminar) (Spring)
Led by Marlon Kuzmick

In the average course, students will spend a large chunk of their time listening, a large chunk of their time reading, and some of their time making things.  This seminar is devoted to the making chunk, and, within this chunk, to modes of making that are either newly emergent or overlooked.

Over the course of six weeks in the Bok Center’s Learning Lab, we will experiment with a number of different media and tools, from speaking to 3D-modeling to photography.  No previous experience of any sort is required, as we are not aiming to become experts.  Instead, our procedure will involve 1) experimenting with the new medium or tool, 2) reflecting on how a student might use it to develop skills and express ideas, and, 3) designing and testing assignments and activities related to our disciplines (we will be getting feedback from the Learning Lab Undergraduate Fellows, who test the various materials we produce in the Learning Lab). 

Back to top

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.

Back to top

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 Harvard undergraduates? This Bok seminar will offer both a theoretical and hands-on approach. Because discussion techniques can be used in discussion sections, seminars, and classes of all sizes, the material we practice in seminar should prove useful to your current and future teaching. 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, save, and conclude a discussion, we will also strategize how to deal with “hot moments” in the classroom and 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.

Equity & Inclusion

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

Back to top

Power and Ethics in the Classroom (Fall)
Led by Eleanor Craig and Noelle Lopez

How can ethical challenges be named and explored fruitfully, even amidst pressures to teach pre-specified content? What can you, as an instructor, do to acknowledge and counteract classroom dynamics that replicate social injustices? When is it productive to be transparent about your ethical and political commitments in the classroom? This Bok seminar is geared toward anyone with a teaching role at Harvard who is motivated to explore these questions. Throughout the seminar we'll use short readings, discussion, journaling, and other in-class activities to refine our awareness of how structural inequalities impact the classroom and develop techniques for fostering equity in our pedagogy.

Back to top

Teaching with Purpose: Critical Pedagogy in Practice (Spring)
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 light reading—a maximum of 2 hours—between meetings. Readings will include works by authors such as Paulo Freire, Henry Giroux, and bell hooks. Participants must be able to attend all six sessions. All levels of teaching experience welcome!

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.

Back to top

Public Speaking for Teachers and Scholars (Fall)
Led by Jen Doody

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. In this seminar, you 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, 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 subtle but immense power of silence. Students must be able to attend all sessions, and additionally must be available for an additional two-hour small-group meeting time each week. 

Back to top

Public Speaking for Teachers and Scholars, Part II (Fall)
Led by Jen Doody

Building upon the public speaking skills mastered in Public Speaking for Teachers and Scholars, Part I, this seminar delves more deeply into the speechwriting, preparation, and on-stage follow-through for exceptional presentations and job talks. In learning the basics of powerful speechwriting, participants will fine-tune their presentation's text for maximum impact. In workshopping their presentations, participants will also learn how to respond to uncomfortable or unexpected conversations (including presentation interruptions), as well as how to diffuse negative interactions. At the end of the seminar, participants will finish by presenting a dry run of their new, fully-workshopped presentation, demonstrating skills learned in the seminar.

Back to top

Classroom Communication Skills for International TFs (Fall, Spring)
Led by Sarah Emory

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 designed for students who have not met the GSAS language requirement, or who want to focus on the nuts and bolts of fluency, vocabulary, and the pronunciation and grammar of the spoken English in the Harvard classroom context.

Back to top

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. 

Professional development

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

Back to top

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

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.

Graduate Student News

More 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.