One challenge a seminar like this faces has to do with follow-through, with keeping the conversation going once we stop meeting together in the same room. Teaching at the university level can often feel oddly isolating; you meet with your students often, but have far fewer chances to talk with your colleagues about the work you’re doing in the classroom.

I’d like to see if we can use this WordPress site to combat that sense of isolation, to keep some sense of a teaching community in place. I am thus asking you to post at least three reflections on your teaching to this site over the course of the fall semester. I also think it would be great if you could check in on the site from time to time, and perhaps post a comment or two on what others have written.

I almost always find it easiest to write in response to a specific event or text. (Perhaps that is why I became an academic.) I’d thus encourage you to think about writing posts in response to:

  • A particular conversation or event in your class that you found especially intriguing or troubling, that you’d like some feedback on;
  • A piece of writing by one of your students—perhaps a piece you really admire, or one that you are finding it difficult to respond to;
  • A class taught by a colleague in which you observed something you’d like to share; you might also want to share a teaching text—assignment, handout, course overview, or the like—that you admire; or
  • A published piece on teaching—book, article, lecture, website—that you’d like to bring to the attention of the group.

But these are all, just suggestions (“prompts”); the main thing, I think, will be for each of us to try to check in with and stay connected to the others this seminar, to draw on the resources of the group. We also hope to add to this virtual conversation with a few real ones on Google Hangout—perhaps once a month?

And then the plan is for me to return to campus as the fall term is winding down, in order to give us an occasion to regather and compare notes on the semester that has just passed ,and to think towards the kinds of teaching you want to do in the future. I look forward to seeing you again on that occasion!

In the meantime, I hope you will feel free to contact me in whatever way works for you: this WordPress site, email, Twitter. I will be glad to hear from you, and to offer you whatever advice or support that I can.