Center for Teaching, Learning and Technology
Illinois State University
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Professional Development Circles

Join your peers in a Professional Development Circle to share ideas, discover new approaches to teaching and student learning, reduce your stress, and increase your success! Circles are led by a facilitator who will guide group discussion, arrange contacts with key individuals, and provide information about campus resources and opportunities. No registration is necessary.

Questions? Contact Dr. Julie-Ann McFann at (309) 438-5848 or at

  • Early-Career Faculty Development Circle Make Connections icon Transform Teaching icon Design Learning icon
  • Future Professors Development Circle Make Connections icon Transform Teaching icon

CTLT’s Early-Career Faculty Circles offer faculty in their 1st, 2nd, or 3rd year of service at ISU a combination of professional development and peer support. Join us for a series of lively conversations about surviving and thriving in the academy.

The topics for the Fall 2017 Early-Career Faculty Circle meetings are drawn from the book How Learning Works: 7 Research-Based Principles for Smart Teaching, by Susan A. Ambrose et al. The text introduces seven general principles that “provide instructors with an understanding of student learning that can help them see why certain teaching approaches are or are not supporting student learning.” No reading is required for participation in these circles. Each participant will receive a copy of the book, but we will provide executive summaries of chapters. Understanding how students learn can help you understand how to teach.

  • This group meets on select Wednesdays or Thursdays from noon to 1:00 p.m.
  • Sessions are held in the Resource Commons at CTLT’s facility at 301 S. Main Street.
  • No registration is necessary.

Topics for Fall 2017

How does students’ prior knowledge affect their learning?

Wednesday, September 6
Thursday, September 7

Students’ prior knowledge can be a good thing, or it can be a bad thing.  We can help students make connections between current learning and prior knowledge, but we must also address student misconceptions about both the subject matter and their own level of knowledge.

How does the way students organize knowledge affect their learning?

Wednesday, September 20
Thursday, September 21

To be able to retrieve and apply knowledge effectively, students much make accurate and meaningful connections between pieces of knowledge. How students organize knowledge influences how they learn and apply what they know.

What factors motivate students to learn?

Wednesday, October 4
Thursday, October 5

Motivation plays a critical role in determining the quality of learning behaviors in which students engage. We’ll look at different types of student motivation as well as strategies for establishing the value of a learning goal or activity.

How do students develop mastery?

Wednesday, October 18
Thursday, October 19

Goal-directed practice and explicit feedback contribute to student mastery. We need to be aware that our own competence can sometimes blind us to the complexity of our subject matter.

Why do student development and course climate matter for student learning?

Wednesday, November 1
Thursday, November 2

The climates we create in our classrooms have direct implications for student learning. Classrooms are never neutral spaces, they always impact student learning for good or ill.

How do students become self-directed learners?

Wednesday, November 15
Thursday, November 16

Students need to develop a variety of metacognitive processes before they can become self-directed learners. Learn how to incorporate the hard work of self-regulation into your classroom.

Explore pedagogical issues, effective and disruptive teaching strategies, and gain confidence in your ability to teach at the college level. This professional development circle helps graduate students to teach in the academy, whether they are currently teaching, working as a teaching assistant, or considering teaching as a career path. Share teaching tips, tricks, and get support from other future professors. Discussions for fall will be based on chapters from Teaching What You Don’t Know by Therese Huston; however, there is no required reading to participate.

Attend when you can – no registration is necessary. This group is open to all graduate students, with all sessions held in the CTLT Resource Commons, 301 S. Main St.

Embracing the role of “content novice”

Friday, September 8 • 10 a.m. to 11 a.m.

There are many ways to “teach,” but the best teachers take into account how students learn.  In this session we will talk about teaching so students will learn.

Switching gears from expert to learner

Friday, September 22 • 10 a.m. to 11 a.m.

Instructors should thing of themselves as learners rather than as experts. Authority in the classroom doesn't come only, or even mostly, from perfect knowledge.

Building credibility in the classroom

Friday, October 6 • 10 a.m. to 11 a.m.

Let’s face it, teaching outside of the comfort zone is more the rule than the exception. In this session, we’ll discuss strategies that help you build confidence and classroom credibility.

Thinking on Your Feet

Friday, October 20 • 10 a.m. to 11 a.m.

Learn tactics for reaching unresponsive students, maintaining discussion, and offers tips for introducing new topics in a lively style.

Teaching students you don’t understand

Friday, November 3 • 10 a.m. to 11 a.m.

When students don’t share your cultural background, lifestyle, or assumptions about how to behave in a classroom, you may face challenges to your credibility. This session will help you learn how to build your credibility as you gauge your students’ perspectives and learning.

Preparing to teach a new topic and a new course

Friday, November 17 • 10 a.m. to 11 a.m.

Knowing how to prepare to teach a new course, understanding how much to prepare, deciding how to present yourself, evaluating how to be the best instructor for the students you have, are some of the things we’ll be discussing in this last session.

If you need a special accommodation to fully participate in an event, please contact the CTLT main desk at (309) 438-2542.

2017-08-18T10:56:34.941-05:00 2017