Tracy Jackson

Evaluation of the Tools for Teaching Workshop Spring 2015

Overall, I found this series of workshops to be both practical and interesting. The workshop leader, Matthew Callahan, was well prepared and had significant experience in the topics, so he was able to provide a range of suggestions for situations, especially those in the classroom that require thinking on your feet. He also did an excellent job of using constructive criticism, helping us to improve without feeling defensive about the need to do so.

Most of the topics gave me enough information to make small changes to improve my teaching as well as the resources to make more significant changes in the future. For example, the session on grading gave me tools that I was able to apply that week in grading the rough drafts of take-home exams which allowed me to give my students more effective feedback. In addition, I was given resources to use when developing future syllabi in order to make my overall grading system more effective.

I’m still absorbing the most recent workshop on diversity, becoming more aware of differences in perception and trying to be more sensitive to undercurrents that I might otherwise miss. As a result, I’ve caught and addressed a couple of unintentional comments in class that could be taken different ways depending on your background, hopefully helping my students to be more aware as well.

The main problem with this series of workshops is that there never seemed to be enough time. It would be improved by meeting every two weeks instead of once a month, or even weekly, although this would add to the time commitment. Among the group there was a wide range of ideas and approaches and it would have been interesting to explore them further. Each topic also addressed a broad range of material. It would have been nice to have time for additional discussion after some processing time, or maybe the addition of readings/activities to do in preparation for the workshop could help.