Faculty in the Department of Kinesiology and Health Education (KHE) were invited recently to take part in a novel experience: watching other teachers teach.
Teachers Learning Together was a two-day event in which KHE faculty observed their colleagues–not to evaluate but to learn. More than 80 percent of KHE faculty participated.
There were two goals: for KHE faculty to see first-hand how their colleagues engage students; and for KHE faculty to have brief discussions on ways to enhance their own teaching, connections with students, and student learning.
Dr. John Bartholomew, chair of KHE, created the event. “We wanted to build on university efforts to celebrate teaching and focus observation on learning from the instructor. Far too often our discussions of teaching focus on observations or critique of the instructor being viewed.”
Participating faculty were divided into cohorts and visited two classes taught by other KHE faculty and they watched how their colleagues’ interacted with their own students.
Initially, some were apprehensive and thought the event was about getting feedback. But once they got rolling, they saw the potential in learning from each other. “KHE values innovative, high-quality teaching,” says Thomas Hunt, associate professor and assistant director for the H.J. Lutcher Stark Center for Physical Culture and Sports. “This was designed to give our instructors an opportunity to learn from one another in a supportive environment. I plan to incorporate some of the things that I saw other instructors do in my own classes. And I’ve talked to a number of colleagues who say the same. In short, this is the type of program that makes us such a dynamic department.”
The class visit also gave faculty the chance to visit classes in programs they normally aren’t exposed to. In a post-event evaluation, one noted, “I liked going to classes, like sport management, that I haven’t been exposed to before. I also liked discussing what we saw with faculty I don’t know as well.”
Bartholomew said, “It turns out that much of the benefit was just the opportunity to bring together faculty from different areas of the department to simply spend time together and talk about teaching. It has really helped people to break down internal barriers among the different programs and help faculty get to know each other better.”