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Teaching Squares

The CETL Teaching Squares Program allows faculty to gain new perspectives and insights into their teaching through a completely non-evaluative process of reciprocal classroom observation and self-reflection.

Each Teaching Square consists of four faculty members, preferably from different disciplines, who work together for a semester. The faculty visit each other’s classes and then meet and discuss, through a guided process, what they’ve learned from the observations.

What is the commitment?
  • One kick-off event for all participants on your campus for orientation to the program, material distributions, etc.
  • One initial meeting with your Teaching Square to arrange the program for that square.
  • Provide a syllabus and other relevant information about your course to your Square Partners.
  • Visit each other’s classroom at least once.
  • Meet again for one or two follow-up meetings after all the observations are complete.

Your campus CETL Associate will assist with coordinating visits, but each group determines its own schedule, using the following as a framework.

  • Week 4 of the Semester: All Square Kickoff - Meet with your Square Partners and overview the Teaching Squares Project.
  • Week 5 of the Semester: Square Introductions - Meet with your square to discuss expectations, plan a preliminary schedule, confer with your CETL faculty associate and exchange materials.
  • Weeks 7 – 11 of the Semester: Class Visits - Visit at least one class of each of your Square Partners and record what you observe.
  • Week 12 of the Semester: Self-Reflection - Reflect on your notes in preparation for the Square Share.
  • Week 13 of the Semester: Square Share - Meet with your Square to share your reflections.
  • Week 14 of the Semester: All-Square Roundup - Tentative date for All-Square Roundup.

Your CETL Associate will always be available to assist you in other ways.


The Cornerstones of Teaching Squares

Teaching Squares look at reciprocity and shared responsibility, appreciation, self-referential reflections and mutual respect as the four cornerstones of a teaching square. These are the traits that when exhibited by all members of a square, result in a safe, supporting and energizing environment for sharing the joys of teaching!

I. Reciprocity and Shared Responsibility
As each member of a teaching square visits or is visited by another square participant, each assumes the dual role of observer and observed, teacher and student. You experience the opportunities and risks of inviting others into your classroom.

Teaching Squares participants jointly assume the tasks of arranging classroom visits and exchanging course information. By fully participating in the organization and administration of the Square, you minimize the effort that must be expended by any single participant, thus maximizing a climate of collegiality. It is a team effort and a team result.

II. Self-Referential Reflection
The Square Share is an opportunity to report what you have learned from the observation experience. It is NOT an opportunity to improve a Square Partner’s teaching. You keep your observations self-focused to avoid any indication of evaluation or judgment that might lead to defensiveness of suspicion.

III. Appreciation
The Square Share session is an opportunity to identify and celebrate the behaviors and practices that create a productive environment of learning. Expressing observations in a positive way energizes your Square Partner and helps you and him/her form new goals.

IV. Mutual Respect
Participants enter their Square Partner’s classroom with an attitude of empathy and respect for both the instructor and the students. It is necessary to recognize that different methods and techniques are required in different disciplines and classroom situations.


Registration for Teaching Squares: http://goo.gl/TtNUK

Download the Teaching Square Manual: CETL Teaching Squares Program Manual