Teaching Squares

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.

ProgressionEvent/ActionDescriptionTime (Hours)
Fall: Ramp-Up Spring: PDIInitial TrainingProgram Information and Observation Training3
Weeks 1-2Pre-Observation MeetingSet-Up Cycle 1 Observation Schedule1
Weeks 3-5Observation Cycle 1Instructors Observe Each Other3-4
Week 6Meeting with TILTPost-Observation Discussion and Cycle 2 Pre-Observation Meeting2
Weeks 7-9Observation Cycle 2Instructors Observe Each Other3-4
Week 10Individual Reflection TimeSelf-Reflection, Goal Setting, Portfolio Development2-3
Weeks 11-12Meeting with TILTPost-Observation Meeting Discussion, Square Share Celebration, Final Goal Setting2
Total Time Commitment~16

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.

*Martin and Double (1998)

Resources

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

Contact

ProgressionEvent/ActionDescriptionTime (Hours)
Fall: Ramp-Up Spring: PDIInitial TrainingProgram Information and Observation Training3
Weeks 1-2Pre-Observation MeetingSet-Up Cycle 1 Observation Schedule1
Weeks 3-5Observation Cycle 1Instructors Observe Each Other3-4
Week 6Meeting with TILTPost-Observation Discussion and Cycle 2 Pre-Observation Meeting2
Weeks 7-9Observation Cycle 2Instructors Observe Each Other3-4
Week 10Individual Reflection TimeSelf-Reflection, Goal Setting, Portfolio Development2-3
Weeks 11-12Meeting with TILTPost-Observation Meeting Discussion, Square Share Celebration, Final Goal Setting2
Total Time Commitment~16