The Teaching Squares program provided faculty an opportunity to gain new insight into their teaching through a non-evaluative process of reciprocal classroom observation and self-reflection.
The four faculty in each "teaching square" agreed to visit each other's classes over the course of a semester and then meet to discuss what they learned from their observations.
By allowing faculty to be "learners" again in their colleagues' classes, Teaching Squares can open up unique spaces for reflection and conversation about teaching.
What happens in a teaching square?
Each teaching square consists of four faculty members. After an initial meeting early in the semester to discuss logistics and establish expectations, each square member commits to visiting the other members’ classes at least once.
The CTL will assist with coordinating these visits, but each group will determine its own schedule. When all observations are completed, the square meets again to discuss what they have learned. The CTL will provide funding if the square would like to meet over a meal for this final conversation.
To learn more, download a pdf of the Teaching Squares Handbook.
How is this a “non-evaluative” process?
Teaching Squares are meant to spur personal self-reflection rather than peer evaluation. Participants focus their conversations on what they’ve learned about their own teaching from the observation process and avoid direct commentary on their colleagues’ performance.
The goal is to encourage a respectful, safe, mutually-supportive experience for all involved. Participants are encouraged to approach the process in a spirit of appreciation – even celebration – of the work of their colleagues.
What are the benefits?
Here are a couple Stonehill faculty comments about the Teaching Squares program:
"It was great to be able to sit in and observe a colleague's teaching and classroom management skills. Also I was able to sit at the back in both classes and this gave me a very different perspective from my usual position at the front. I realized that sitting at the back it is easy to be "invisible" - sometimes this may be desired by the student but maybe not always. It was amazing to notice this."
"This is in no particular order: It was a wonderful reminder of what it's like to be a student. It was wonderful to see various teaching methods being applied. It was wonderful to meet and share ideas with colleagues from diverse departments. It was wonderful to think about and plan how I will apply some of the ideas learned. It was wonderful to share some of what I do in the classroom with others."