TFs & Teaching Teams

As we all adjust to teaching remotely, faculty and graduate student TFs are learning how to use new tools and teach in new ways, just as undergraduates are also learning to navigate this new terrain. As instructors learn new tools they are also sharing them with students; never before have we all been so clearly teaching and learning together. We have compiled some key tips for teaching teams as they make this transition:

  • Meet regularly to maintain pedagogical coherence across the course. We recommend that the teaching team for a class meet regularly via Zoom (or similar platform) to discuss course activities, plans for sections, and challenges that arise.

  • Revisit roles and responsibilities. Decide on the different roles of the team, given the new remote environment, for lecture, section, and other components of the course. Given the additional logistics that may be required to teach larger courses online, it is more important than ever that you maintain clear communication within your teaching staff. You could adjust this pre-term planner for use given this transition to remote teaching; who will be responsible for these features of the course, and how may they change going forward?

    • Lecture. As faculty modify their lectures for an online format, TFs can play a helpful role in managing aspects of the course's online environment during lecture, by monitoring the Zoom chat, dividing students into Zoom breakout rooms, administering online polls, and/or connecting students with the helpdesk if they encounter a technological problem.

    • Section. Faculty and TFs together can decide the best format for remote sections given their goals and objectives. Does it make sense to run sections via Zoom, or to plan asynchronous work via Canvas or other online tools?

    • Office Hours / Individual support. Both faculty and TFs can consider ways to sustain community with the class, making sure there are clear communication channels, and venues for feedback (by email, in virtual office hours, etc.)

  • Decide on communication protocols. How will you work together in the new environment? Will you edit assignment prompts or problem sets together in Google Docs? How should TFs ask questions of each other and of the course head? (By email? Slack?). The following tools can help facilitate good communication within a team:

    • Zoom. As everyone gets used to using Zoom for classes and meetings, consider doing a Zoom orientation with your teaching team (as well as your students) to cover key functions and how you will be using them.

    • Slack. Some units / courses / departments are using Slack, a remote work platform.

    • Google Hangouts / Google Docs / Google Drive. This suite of google tools is available to everyone via g.harvard.

  • Practice together. Your team can run simulated class sessions through Zoom to experiment with how instructors and students will experience the interface. A coursehead could make a TF a student in the class and try sharing a screen, for example, to see what students see. Taking turns trying out the tools for specific course material and experiencing how students will interact with it would be a great activity for a course staff meeting.

Academic Technology for the FAS / HUIT

Your starting place for learning about and accessing many of the technological tools you may need, such as Zoom, Canvas, and related plug-ins.

The Vice Provost for Advances in Learning (VPAL)

VPAL convenes university-wide conversations about teaching and pedagogical research, particularly in the online space.

The Office of Undergraduate Education (OUE)

OUE oversees, and stewards resources devoted to, the undergraduate curriculum at Harvard College..

The Division of Continuing Education (DCE)

DCE offers a mix of in-person, hybrid, and online courses, and their staff are experienced in thinking about multiple ways to achieve your goals through different mediums.

SEAS and the Division of Science

Advice on teaching in the sciences.

The Harvard Libraries

Request help modifying/troubleshooting your research-based assignments.

The Chronicle of Higher Education

Schedule a consultation with the Bok Center's Senior Staff. (Please note that consultations are available only for Faculty and Teaching Fellows in the FAS.)

Faculty can attend our online faculty meet-ups, register for ride-along Zoom help, and share your feedback on remote teaching.

View the schedule and register  |  Request a ride along  |  Share feedback

Teaching Fellows can attend a Zoom workshop designed to help you explore and become more comfortable using Zoom and other remote teaching resources, and request that a Pedagogy Fellow or other teaching consultant attend their section and debrief afterwards.

View the schedule and register  |  Request an observation

The media production staff of the Bok Center's Learning Lab can provide consultations for faculty teaching Harvard College courses using Zoom and other modes of media capture. We can provide suggestions for setting up remote video capture environments in your home or office, and on ways to integrate media into your courses.  Please contact us if you would like to discuss your needs with our staff.

Email the Learning Lab