Let's Talk Teaching
Frank Vattano, Founder of Let's Talk Teaching
Let's Talk Teaching is a mentoring program that brings together teachers in paired mentoring relationships. The focus of the program is on helping teachers improve their work in courses.
Paired mentoring relationships begin as a conversation between two teachers and draw on a range of mentoring techniques chosen by the participants. They range from focused discussions about teaching to classroom observation, and from review of course materials to mid-semester feedback.
The activities used in the Let's Talk Teaching program are likely to vary widely, but the goal of each conversation is the same: to enhance learning and teaching across the University and to bring out the best in every teacher who joins the program.
Led by emeritus professor and University Distinguished Teaching Scholar Frank Vattano, and an experienced advisory board consisting of current and retired University faculty members, the Let's Talk Teaching program builds on a long tradition of faculty-to-faculty mentoring at Colorado State University.
Who is the Program Designed For?Let's Talk Teaching is intended for all instructors at the University, including tenured and tenure-track faculty, adjunct faculty, post-docs, and graduate student instructors, including but not limited to the following:
- New faculty members interested in gaining useful insights into effective teaching
- Recenty tenured or mid-career faculty members who want to renew their focus on teaching and learning
- Adjunct faculty members interested in learning about new teaching strategies and approaches
- Faculty members approaching retirement who want to learn more about emerging instructional technologies
- Graduate students or post-docs who want to prepare for future positions as faculty members
- Faculty members who want to follow up on feedback gained from peer reviews of teaching or student course surveys
What Issues Can Be Addressed?
Among many other issues, participants in the program can explore:
- Developing and organizing courses
- Developing lesson plans
- Planning and delivering effective lectures
- Creating quizzes and exams
- Creating assignments
- Implementing and grading writing assignments
- Using creative teaching methods and strategies
- Teaching for specific outcomes, such as critical thinking, professional behavior, or interpersonal skills
- Planning collaborative activities
- Teaching large classes
- Teaching labs
- Teaching graduate and professional students
- Aligning teaching and classroom practice with particular theoretical frameworks in education
- Using instructional technology
- Maintaining classroom control and fostering high expectations
- Interpersonal dynamics in the classroom
- Negotiating identity and teaching persona
- Conflict management
- Managing and mentoring GTAs and GRAs
- Addressing professional matters (documenting effective teaching, working toward tenure and promotion)
- Developing a teaching portfolio
What Activities are Involved?
Instructors involved in the program can draw on a range of strategies. The simplest, and most common, activity is conversation about teaching. Participants might meet in the TILT Building (801 Oval Drive), at a coffee shop, in a faculty office, or anywhere else that's convenient. All conversations are confidential, as are the names of everyone who signs up as a program mentee. Other activities can include:
- Review of syllabi, lesson plans, assignments, quizzes, and exams
- Classroom observations
- Mid-semester feedback
- Discussions of effective use of instructional technology
- Development and review of teaching portfolios
Where Did this Program Come From?
This program owes much to the contributions of individuals who have worked over many years at the University to enhance learning and teaching. We can look to the contributions of Kay Herr and her colleagues in the Office of Instructional Services (OIS) in the 1980s and 1990s for inspiration -- and, for that matter, for the name of the program. We can look to the work of N. Preston Davis, who helped establish OIS and created a foundation for many important faculty development programs. We can thank faculty members such as Frank Vattano, Jack Avens, and others who have worked for many years to support faculty and graduate student instructors. And we can thank Bill Timpson and his colleagues in the Center for Teaching and Learning (which fell victim to budget cuts in 2003) for their tireless work in establishing a mid-semester feedback program at the University. This program — and many others at TILT — builds on a strong foundation of contributions from a large number of dedicated members of the University community. We hope that supporting it will honor their substantial efforts over the past decades.