The Teaching Squares Guide: Observe and Reflect on Teaching and Learning

Dr. Carol Berenson, PhD, Taylor Institute for Teaching and Learning

Peer observation of teaching programs are becoming increasingly popular in the postsecondary environment as they provide unique and valuable opportunities to learn from colleagues and to enhance one’s own teaching. This guide outlines the Teaching Squares philosophy and method for peer observation of teaching and learning. Practical directions and tools to guide square participants through the components of the Teaching Squares process are included in the document. The guide can be used or adapted to implement a teaching square with peers in your context.

Teaching Squares initiatives are designed to enhance teaching and learning and to build community through a process of reciprocal peer observation, self-reflection, and group discussion. Originally created by Anne Wessely from St. Louis Community College, variations on Teaching Squares are widely implemented throughout universities and colleges in North America and the UK. Teaching Squares initiatives facilitate the sharing of successful and innovative teaching methods and ideas, and contribute to fostering a campus culture of ongoing reflection and improvement in teaching practice (Moorse & Moore, 2006). By the end of the teaching squares experience you should be able to:

  • Observe, analyse, reflect on, and gain new insights into teaching and learning
  • Increase your understanding and appreciation of the work of colleagues
  • Gather ideas for developing your teaching and learning philosophy and ‘repertoire’
  • Formulate a plan for trying out new approaches (adapted from The Quality Improvement Agency for Lifelong Learning, 2008; York Technical College, n.d.)

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