CTL: Center for Teaching and Learning

Facilitating Workshops

written by Rachel Jameton and the Working Board

At the CTL, we greatly value the expertise and teaching passion of faculty and staff from across campus. There are multiple ways and reasons to be involved with programming at the CTL, a few are mentioned below. 

Workshop development and facilitation

Faculty and staff are welcome and encouraged to develop and facilitate a workshop related to teaching and learning. 

Preparing for your Workshop

Please contact the CTL at the beginning of the semester, or the semester prior, during which you would like to run your workshop. We will meet at least twice to talk about your ideas and discuss how to make your workshop useful and satisfying for you and your audience. Some of the elements that we will discuss during the planning phase are modelling best practices in course design, classroom assessment techniques, active learning and the importance of reflection time. Here is a rough timeline for planning your workshop:

  • The semester before: contact Rachel at the CTL to let her know you would like to facilitate a workshop at the CTL. Workshops must be consistent with the mission of the center: to promote teaching excellence and support student success. Thus, workshops typically connect in some way to backwards course design, inclusivity, high impact practices, a growth mindset, respect, trust and compassion.

  • At the beginning of the semester in which you will facilitate: You will be sent a calendar in which you can identify the week in which you would like to facilitate your workshop.
  • One month before your workshop or earlier: Rachel will contact you to set up a specific date and time for the workshop, and arrange a time to go over your workshop. You will also need to send in a blurb for the website and Ace.
  • In the month before your workshop: Rachel will advertise through the biweekly email and Facebook.
  • A few days before your workshop: You will be sent a roster of faculty/staff that have signed up by Ace and those faculty/staff will be sent a reminder about the workshop.
  • The day of your workshop: please see Standard Workshop Design below
  • After your workshop: We do not send out official thank you notes, but if you would like one for your portfolio, please request one. Also, if you are interested in survey results, please contact the CTL.

Standard Workshop Design

  • Arrive 10 minutes before to set up room, make tea and connect electronically, get surveys from Rachel, greet attendees
  • Introductions and take attendance
  • Note rules for discussion
  • Model best practices
  • Summarize the conversation
  • Leave time for reflection
  • Give the three question assessment
  • Record attendance
  • Follow up with thank you and website link

 Best Practices in Facilitation as described by faculty facilitators

  • Plan for every minute
  • Even a one person audience is worth 100% of your time and effort
  • Make sure that everyone introduces themselves
  • Use backwards design: start with your outcomes, then your activities, then your assessment
  • Focus on a clear idea/direction of what to do in the classroom. Faculty should leave with both a new easy-to-implement activity and the content.
  • Model exercises/active learning/CATs/HIPs/UDL with specific attention to your topic. So, if you are discussing relationship based teaching, you should model best practices in relationship building, etc. 
  • Take abundant notes so that you can summarize the conversation
  • Have discussion questions planned out and clearly displayed
  • If possible, sit down
  • Make sure you have a solid foundation in the research before facilitating
  • Give every participant a chance to say something, even just a word or two. If you write down responses, makes sure to value everyone's contribution and write down everyone's responses
  • Give a handout for attendees to write on and take with them
  • Delocalize authority: get your audience to talk with each other
  • Practice beforehand
  • Practice FISH Philosophy https://www.fishphilosophy.com
  • Gauge where people actually are in their knowledge/interest

Mistakes we've learned from

  • Not taking enough notes during the conversation
  • Leaving my phone on :)
  • Trying to pack in too much information and not leaving time for reflection
  • Going down a rabbit hole and running out of time for the important stuff
  • Not giving people enough time to think
  • Overplanning and not being flexible
  • Not having back-up technology
  • Not knowing my audience!

 Discussion guidelines for attendees (on display in CTL)

  • Help us start and end on time
  • Self-regulate your speaking time
  • Expect to be challenged and/or annoyed  and/or feel like you said the wrong thing, even if you didn’t
  • If you need to arrive late, leave early or leave the room at any time, it’s ok
  • Help yourself to tea or other hot drinks, they are relaxing

Ideas and Inspiration pages

Faculty and staff are invited to contribute to the "ideas and inspiration" pages, like this one. Some of these pages stem from a workshop or presentation, while others are an outcome of research, teaching philosophy and experience. Please contact the CTL with your ideas.

Sabbaticals, conference reports and practice presentations

If you have recently taken a sabbatical, travelled or plan to give a talk in the future related to teaching and learning, the CTL is available for reports and practice. We have monitors and projectors, and can connect by zoom to off-campus guests. Depending on content, timing and your wishes, the campus can be invited or a selected audience of your choice.