Open Classes at RDC

Door

The CTL is pleased to introduce Open Classes at RDC! Develop your teaching practice by observing your colleagues in action. Open your door to your colleagues to support their development.

Introduction

The philosophy behind the Open Classes concept is that we are all a community of learners and we can learn from each other. In order for us all to develop our teaching practices, we have introduced Open Classes at RDC. In this program, RDC faculty volunteer to open their classes to their colleagues as a learning opportunity. Open classes are not a form of evaluation or feedback. They are entirely observational and the faculty member observing the class is doing so to gain insight into the breadth of teaching techniques at RDC. Open Classes enhance teaching and learning by exposing faculty to a variety of teaching contexts. They also support the growth of a community of practice by encouraging faculty to reach out to other faculty to observe and discuss teaching. Open Classes are similar to Teaching Squares but less formal (Teaching Squares involve reciprocal class observations between four faculty members with formalized feedback and reflection–a Teaching Square is great and you could start one!).

Who Are Open Classes For?

Open Classes are for everyone! Whether you are new to teaching or have taught for five, fifteen, or twenty-five years, there is always something to learn. Observing other faculty teaching provides you with the opportunity to expand and grow your teaching practice. Here is an example of a Classroom Observation that was written up for the benefit of the Visiting Instructor. It is non-evaluative and non-judgemental and is used by the Visiting Instructor to enhance her own teaching:

http://ows.edb.utexas.edu/site/crystal-kuseys-e-portfolio/my-classroom-observation

What Are and Aren’t Open Classes?

Open Classes Are Open Classes Are Not
  • informal and casual
  • developmental
  • for the benefit of the Visiting Instructor (though benefits may be found for the Home Instructor too)
  • reflective
  • collaborative
  • formal
  • evaluative
  • a form of Peer Observation as laid out in the Faculty Performance Policy
  • a Mentoring relationship between the Visiting Instructor and the Home Instructor

Guiding Principles and Etiquette for Open Classes

This is not a peer observation—this is simply faculty providing an opportunity for other faculty to learn from one another by watching others teach. You may see things that you want to adopt. You may observe things that won’t work in your teaching context.  You won’t know until you go.

The idea behind this is one of learning. There is no pressure and no expectation that you and the faculty member you are observing would meet following the observation (though you could and, certainly, if you had questions about your observation, the faculty whom you observed would be open to a discussion). There is no record of the observation. There is no work on either part expected (the Home Instructor who opens his or her class does not write anything up and neither does the Visiting Instructor–though we would recommend that anyone observing another instructor teaching would be well served by writing a short and personal reflection on the experience and how it might impact one’s own personal teaching practice). For the Home Instructor: it is simply opening your classroom door to other faculty so they can learn from their peers in order to develop their own teaching practice. For the Visiting Instructor: it is simply entering another classroom to learn from what other faculty do in their classes. This creates a culture of sharing around teaching which is open and collaborative.

Open Classes at RDC are governed by several Guiding Principles related to ethical and professional conduct between faculty members. These Guiding Principles have been adapted from several sources and are in agreement with those found in the FARDC Guidelines for Ethical Practice (on the FARDC website under “Collective Agreement”): http://rdc.ab.ca/about/leadership/staff-faculty-leadership/fardc/collective-agreement).

  1. Trust: “Observers [Visiting Instructors] need to maintain a sensitive awareness of the potential for vulnerability that inevitably accompanies any observation of teaching” (Wajnryb, 1992, 19).  
  2. Confidentiality: The Open Class process is undertaken within a system of confidentiality to respect the Home Instructor and her/his students welcoming you into their classroom. Discussion of the observation should remain between the two faculty members (the Visiting Instructor and the Home Instructor) and be held as confidential. Any written reflection should be anonymized.
  3. Respect: As one faculty member observing another in an unfamiliar teaching context, respect is an important principle. We must respect the diversity of content, experiences, and approaches that we will encounter.
  4. Exploring and Advancing Knowledge: The Open Class process is undertaken in an honest attempt to explore various teaching practices and advance one’s personal knowledge of teaching practices. There should be no judgement involved in the observations; the Visiting Instructors should take away thoughts and ideas for the evolution of their personal teaching practice.
  5. Context and Limitations of Observations: When observing a class, it is important to remember that you are there to observe the teaching practices of the instructor and not to judge the content of the course. You may observe courses that are outside your disciplinary area and that involve topics and discussions which could be seen as controversial. As a Visiting Instructor, you are there for a snapshot of class time and do not have the context of past classes, future classes, overall course outcomes, or disciplinary expertise to judge the appropriateness of course content. Home Instructors are opening their classes to you; if you have questions about the context or content of the course, seek out the Home Instructor directly for clarification.

 

Visiting Instructor

Observing a Class

Home Instructor

Open Class

Benefit
  • The Visiting Instructor benefits from seeing other faculty teach.
  • The Home Instructor supports her/his faculty colleagues in exploring their teaching practice through observations.
Autonomy
  • The Visiting Instructor has autonomy in how he/she will use the Observation to develop their practice and abides by the ethical and confidential guidelines listed above.
  • Control belongs to the Home Instructor. The Home Instructor sets boundaries on the observation, may allow or disallow observations at any time. The Home Instructor may choose to enter into a dialogue with the Visiting Instructor to whatever extent is manageable and desirable.
Self-Reflective and Non-Evaluative
  • The Visiting Instructor gains insight into teaching and uses those insights to reflect and develop her/his own teaching practice.
  • The Visiting Instructor may write a personal  reflection on the key take-aways from the Observation (e.g. what are things observed that could be adapted or incorporated into one’s own teaching practice?)
  • The Home Instructor may also reflect on his/her teaching through this process.
  • The Home Instructor may choose to enter into dialogue about teaching practices with the Visiting Instructor as a result of the Observation.
Developmental
  • Observations are a developmental process wherein the Visiting Instructor benefits from seeing colleagues teach in a variety of settings to develop his/her own practice for the benefit of themselves and their learners
  • The developmental aspect is intended to benefit the Visiting Instructor.
  • The Home Instructor may also find benefit in this process as she/he may reflect on her/his teaching as a result of being observed (the act of observation changes the observed).
Dialogic
  • Talking about teaching promotes reflection on one’s practice; although a discussion is not a formal component of the Observation, discussions between the Visiting Instructor and Home Instructor may take place
  • The Home Instructor is under no obligation to have a meeting with the Visiting Instructor but may wish to answer questions or share thoughts following the Observation. The Home Instructor can offer to meet or discuss the Observation.

Adapted from York St. John University’s Peer Observation of Learning and Teaching (POLT) Guidelines: https://www.yorksj.ac.uk/PDF/Peer%20Observation%20A5%20-final.pdf

Questions and Follow-up

There is no expectation of a follow-up for this process though this is up to the discretion and choice of the Home and Visiting Instructors. You may wish, as the Visiting Instructor, to write a short (anonymized) reflection of the experience and how it impacts your practice. You should, in keeping with the principles of openness, trust, and collaboration, share this with the faculty member you observed. If you have questions about your observation, you should contact the Home Instructor directly as only they can speak to their teaching context as you observed it.

As you observe, you might ask yourself the following questions and use them to write a short reflection for your own benefit:

  1. What did you observe in the class that was different or similar to your own teaching approach?
  2. What have you learned from watching your colleague teach?
  3. What themes emerge about your own teaching practice?
  4. What will you continue to do and what might you adapt or change based on the observation?
  5. Have any of your thoughts or beliefs changed as a result of this observation?
  6. Did you take anything from the observation that you think will make your own teaching more effective?
  7. Did you observe anything that you will apply to your own teaching in the future?

Roster of RDC Faculty with Open Classes

We encourage faculty to observe as many classes as they can both within and outside their disciplines. If you are interested in observing a class, please contact one of the people below by email, introduce yourself, and inquire about observing a class. If a mutually agreeable time can be found (e.g. if their teaching schedule matches yours and  if they have an appropriate class coming up that would be open to Visiting Instructors), you can arrange to attend their class and observe. Some of the faculty listed below teach in both an online and a face-to-face environment so you may also be able to observe an online class session or a face-to-face session.

The following faculty at RDC are pleased to open their classes to their RDC Faculty colleagues. If you would like to add your name to the list, please contact the CTL. This list is open to all faculty at RDC so please add your name at any time.

School of Arts and Sciences

  • Anomi Bearden, Psychology Instructor
    • Psychology (face-to-face)
    • Metacognition and Meditative practices in education and psychology
    • Positive Psychology
    • Email: Anomi.Bearden@rdc.ab.ca
  • Kristy Erickson, Chemistry Instructor
  • Shauna Garrow, Career and Academic Preparation Program
  • Stéphane Perreault, History Instructor
    • Face-to-face instruction
    • Historical narrative and analysis
    • Group activities for document analysis and summaries of knowledge
    • Indigenous voices on history (particularly Canadian)
    • Email: Stephane.Perreault@rdc.ab.ca

 

School of Creative Arts

  • Tom Bradshaw, Performing Arts Instructor
    • Drama courses (various), Research and Development courses, Business of Acting, Voice (with permission of students)
    • Email: Thomas.Bradshaw@rdc.ab.ca
  • Megan Bylsma, Art History Instructor
    • Flipping and un-flipping the classroom
    • Gamification
    • Group work
    • Labs
    • One evening class with 20+ students, another evening class with 100+ students
    • Reacting to the Past (RTTP) curriculum through Live Action Role Playing and reaction to historical events
    • Email: Megan.Bylsma@rdc.ab.ca

 

Donald School of Business

  • Jason Engel, Business Instructor
    • Personal Finance
    • Integration of active learning and adaptive learning through Publisher content
    • Email: Jason.Engel@rdc.ab.ca
  • Deb Kindopp, Administrative Professional and Unit Clerk Instructor
  • Stephanie Powers, Business Instructor
    • Face-to-face and Online
    • Synchronous engagement using Google Docs
    • Student interaction using Socratic method
    • Class activities and games” or something along that line
    • Email:  Stephanie.Powers@rdc.ab.ca
  • Leanne Vig, Accounting Instructor
    • Face-to-face and Online
    • Active and Applied Learning
    • Flipped Classroom
    • Smartie Inventory
    • Email: Leanne.Vig@rdc.ab.ca

 

School of Education

  • Shawna Schnick, Program Chair, Educational Assistant Program

 

School of Health Sciences

  • Jessica Green, Practical Nursing Instructor
  • Kristen Gulbransen, Bachelor of Science, Nursing
  • Brandi Heather, Kinesiology & Sports Studies Instructor
    • KNSS 240 Introduction to Adapted Physical Education Lectures and Labs
    • KNSS 306 Values and Ethics in Adapted Physical Education
    • Email: Brandi.Heather@rdc.ab.ca
  • Candi Raudebaugh, Occupational Therapist & Physiotherapist Instructor
    • Lecture and lab courses
    • Google Drive
    • Small group work
    • Hands-on skill practice
    • Use of iPads in the classroom
    • Email: Candi.Raudebaugh@rdc.ab.ca
  • Carol Sherrer, Practical Nursing Diploma
  • Rob Weddell, Kinesiology Instructor

 

Library Information Common

 

School of Trades and Technology

  • Bill Petrosenko, Heavy Equipment Technicians

Open Class Blitz Week new-ribbon

The CTL is pleased to announce our Winter Open Class Blitz Week February 6-10, 2017!

Open Classes is only for faculty opening their classes to other faculty. One of the many benefits of observing our colleagues teach is to gain insight into the breadth and variety of teaching techniques at RDC. During the Open Class Blitz Week, the process continues to be non-evaluative and only for the benefit of the observer. The same expectations of confidentiality and respect should be observed.

Open Your Class:
If you would like to open your class for the week of February 6-10, 2017, please complete the Expression of Interest Form.

Observe a Class:
If you are interested in attending an open class during the Blitz Week, please explore the schedules below.

Visual Schedule Detailed Schedule
screen-shot-2017-01-11-at-8-44-49-am screen-shot-2017-01-11-at-8-44-37-am

Sources

Brookfield, S.D. 1995. Becoming a Critically Reflective Teacher. Jossey-Bass, San Fransisco, CA.

Wajnryb, Ruth. 1992. Classroom Observation Tasks: A Resource Book for Language Teachers and Trainers. Cambridge University Press.

Teaching Squares:

There are many Colleges and University who offer Teaching Squares programs. The RDC Faculty Librarians have also used a “Teaching Octagon.” For more information on Teaching Squares, check out:

  1. Western University: http://www.uwo.ca/tsc/faculty_programs/teaching_squares.html
  2. UBC Okanagan: http://ctl.ok.ubc.ca/support/teachingsquares.html
  3. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute: http://provost.rpi.edu/learning-assessment/programs/teaching-squares

Open Chair Program at Trent University:

http://www.trentu.ca/teaching/events/openchair.php