The Collaborative Teaching Project
In the 2012-2013 and 2013-2014 academic years, I was privileged to serve as program coordinator for Professor Russell Berman's project on collaborative faculty-graduate student teaching, funded by the Teagle Foundation. This project brought together faculty members from various humanities departments, each of whom invited two graduate students to participate to collaborate with them on an undergraduate course. The courses ranged in topic from contemporary German politics to Brazilian songs to American literature and culture of the Cold War era. In addition, the group met in plenum two to three times per quarter throughout the year, to discuss pedogagical theory and specific issues that arose in the courses.
As the program coordinator, I organized meetings, communicated with participants, and helped select readings. In May 2014, we received a site visit from the Teagle Foundation, which I took primary responsibility for. This was a logistically complex event that involved coordinating the schedules of faculty, students, and staff.
In addition to my organizational duties, I was also able to take part in the discussions. Throughout the two years that I participated in the program we read a number of books about teaching in higher education, including Susan Ambrose's How Learning Works: Seven Research-Based Principles for Smart Teaching and Ken Bain's What the Best College Teachers Do. Doing the reading and participating in discussions allowed me to take my thinking about my own teaching to the next level; it also helped me develop improved strategies in certain areas, such as delivering feedback to my students and providing students with the sort of scaffolding they need to be successful in reaching beyond what they think they can do.
Although I was not officially one of the student collaborators, Professor Berman also gave me the opportunity to collaborate with him on a course. In Spring of 2013, he and I co-taught a course on War and Warfare in Germany. I led discussions in the course on topics such as battle hymns and national anthems, All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque (as well as the American film adaptation), Westfront 1918, the 2009 film The White Ribbon, and Brecht's famous anti-war play Mother Courage. Co-teaching with Professor Berman not only gave me the opportunity to teach literature and film, it also gave me the opportunity to collaborate with and observe a much more experienced instructor in the classroom.