Module Overview

Section 1: Background

Section 2:
Design Elements

Section 3: Additional Considerations

Section 4: Facilitating the Experience

Section 5:


Module Conclusion

About the Author

Additional Considerations

The design elements mentioned in Section 2 are most likely germane to every Master Teacher Seminar, as they apply to every seminar that this writer has encountered. The following are strategies that are not implemented as often, but that we have used to real advantage in the Great Teaching Roundup.

Selecting Seminar Work Topics
Since all participants come to a workshop/seminar without a pre-published schedule (i.e. a list of sessions occurring at specific times) there has to be a means for the group to develop a schedule to their mutual liking. Faculty are asked to come with forty copies of two different statements. The statements are as follows:

1. Describe something that is an outstanding success for you in teaching.

2. Describe something that is a large challenge (this is a euphemism for problem).

Both statements are made available for all participants on the library table.

On the first evening, after arrival, participants are asked to identify the kinds of topics they would like to deal with at the seminar. The topics are posted on big sheets of paper, going serially around the room until participants no longer have any suggestions for topics.

The staff then needs to determine how many people are interested in each topic. Interest in the topics can be indicated with a show of hands. As an alternative, each member may be given five votes, represented by sticky dots that they place by their favorite topics. In any event, both methods produce high, medium, and low interest topics. This process always produces topics that are worthwhile to the participants.

On this first session, the staff stays after the group leaves to analyze the topics of the seminar. These topics will, not surprisingly, mirror many of  the topics described in participants' challenge papers. The staff writes the work schedule for the next day, identifying the names of breakout sessions, the times they will be held, the locations, and the staff member who will facilitate the meetings. The next morning, the entire group meets and then the breakout meetings begin.

See also the attached .pdf file on "Selecting Topics."

Swell Teaching Clinic
This clinic is embedded in the seminar. Faculty members are asked if they would like to participate in a clinic where they present a ten-minute lesson and receive feedback on how they did. The feedback must be positive and constructive. Usually, a third of the group signs up to do the Swell Teaching Clinic. The others (who have not signed up for the clinic) may observe, but they are not permitted to make comments.

The Instant Survey

All participants are permitted, at any time they wish, to take an instant survey on a related topic. All they do is raise their hand, and say, "I have an instant survey question: How many colleges here have faculty support for doing distance education?" This is followed by a show of hands and perhaps a brief follow-up question and discussion. The instant survey provides an interesting way to gather information. I recall one faculty member from a multi-campus urban setting had his office in his automobile. His question was "How many people here have a dedicated office?" All hands went up, affirmatively. He was astounded and requested an office when he returned to campus.

The Favorite Book
Many Master Teacher Seminars ask participants to bring a favorite book with them and place it on the library table in the main meeting room. This book is available for taking to cabins or rooms, with the understanding that it must come back. The book's owner is identified so the reader might have a conversation about it. One of the best books I ever encountered this way was about how happy people get that way. The book was the product of hundreds of interviews with people who were considered happy people. Their case histories were beautiful and the answer is that happy people set out to be that way; they expect to be happy and work at it. The owner and promoter of the book was Pat Grissom, faculty member from San Jacinto College South (Texas). We had some good discussions about "happy people."

This section describes important, yet less common, strategies for activities within a Master Teacher Seminar. What are these four? Say something about each of them. For best review, skim back through this section. We will now turn to a very important part of the Master Teacher Seminar, the facilitators of the whole experience, which they make look deceivingly simple.