Teaching Squares

A TILT-Sponsored Peer Observation Program for CSU Teaching Faculty and Graduate Teaching Assistants

The Teaching Squares program offers teaching faculty an opportunity to observe colleagues in action and reflect on their own teaching practices.

typography graphic with Fall 2018 workshop dates and times

What is a Teaching Square?

A teaching square is a group of four instructors who agree to observe each other a few times during a semester, using an agreed upon set of observation norms. It is designed to be a non-evaluative, supportive and growth-based process. Participants are coached in setting a personal teaching goal and then observe others to give feedback and reflect on their own practice.

What are the benefits of Joining a Teaching Square?

In addition to reflecting on and receiving feedback on teaching practices, past participants have benefitted from making connections with colleagues, sharing ideas, reigniting their passion for teaching, and having time set aside to discuss best instructional practices. Participants have also reported feeling more supported and less isolated as an instructor.

Who Can Participate?

Teaching Squares are open to all CSU instructors: tenured faculty, tenure track, non-tenure track, GTAs, etc. Since the program began in 2018, it has included everyone from 20-year tenured faculty to first year GTAs. Since the focus is on learning through observation and self-reflection, everyone has the opportunity to learn from each other, regardless of the amount of teaching experience.

Can I Form My Own "Square?"

Some participants choose to form their own square with colleagues; some allow their square to be formed arbitrarily. There are benefits to both. Familiar colleagues and content might be more comfortable for some instructors; others might want an entirely new experience with unfamiliar colleagues and content. We will support the decision you make about forming or joining a square.

Teaching Squares Program Schedule (Fall or Spring)

Timing
Event/Action
Description
Time Commitment
Fall: Ramp-Up
Spring: PDI
Initial Training
Program Information and Observation Training
3 Hours
Weeks 1-2
Pre-Observation Meeting
Set-Up Cycle 1 Observation Schedule
1 Hour
Weeks 3-5
Observation Cycle 1
Instructors Observe Each Other
3-4 Hours
Week 6
Meeting with TILT
Post-Observation Discussion and Cycle 2 Pre-Observation Meeting
2 Hours
Weeks 7-9
Observation Cycle 2
Instructors Observe Each Other
3-4 Hours
Week 10
Individual Reflection Time
Self-Reflection, Goal Setting, Portfolio Development
2-3 Hours
Weeks 11-12
Meeting with TILT
Post-Observation Meeting Discussion, Square Share Celebration, Final Goal Setting
2 Hours
Total Time Commitment
~ 16 Hours

The Six Main Aims of Peer Observation*

  1. Improving or developing an understanding of personal approaches to curriculum delivery
  2. Enhancing and extending teaching techniques through collaboration
  3. Exchanging insights relating to the review of teaching performance
  4. Expanding personal skills of self-reflection and evaluation
  5. Developing curriculum planning skills in collaboration with peers and colleagures and,
  6. Identifying areas in teaching practice with particular merit or in need of development.
  7. *Martin and Double (1998)

Peer Observation Resources

The following observation forms align with the domains of the CSU Teaching Effectiveness Framework

For more info or to join the Program

Photo of Jennifer Todd

Jennifer Todd
Instructional Designer

TILT, Rm 232
Email Phone: 970.491.2975
Photo of Tonya Buchan

Tonya Buchan
Instructional Designer

TILT, Rm 232
Email Phone: 970.491.2966