One week from now, Roosevelt Academy (RA) will launch its second workshop on teaching excellence. RA invited Dr. Ellen Sarkisian and Dr. Terry Aladjem, two teaching experts from Harvard's Derek Bok Center, to guide through a 4-day learning session. Senior instructors from Dutch university colleges and universities of applied sciences will be trained in innovative techniques like microteaching, a method developed and practiced at the Derek Bok Center and Harvard University.
New RA dean Dr. Barbara Oomen is looking forward to hosting this event. "I expect it to be as inspiring a course as it was last year, with lots of room for recent insights on what makes for student learning, but also for the exchange of experiences between dedicated teachers," she commented in her interview with ScienceGuide.
Continuous feedback in minimal amounts
Leading up to the workshop, ScienceGuide talked to Dr. Cor Zonneveld. Zonneveld teaches biology at the Amsterdam University College and attended last year's practicum. The key thing he learnt about was the importance of good communication between students and teachers.
"I know you may think that this sounds pretty obvious, but the devil is in the details! A key question for me as a teacher is: How do you efficiently open communication channels? I realized that it is crucial to continuously engage with my students. This means that I invite them to give me frequent feedback, even in minimal amounts," Zonneveld argued.
Teachers as learning facilitators
"I do things very differently now. I ask my students for feedback on a weekly basis, instead of waiting for them to fill in some questionnaire at the end of the course. Here at the AUC, I discussed this with my colleagues as well. Designing your course as a platform for open learning and communication is challenging, but a very useful approach."
With an eye towards next year's G20 of teaching excellence in Amsterdam, Zonneveld says that "we should really emphasize learning. Teachers are only an instrument to facilitate the learning process. That means that we really need to be humble and always look for ways to improve. The goal is to become a better facilitator of student learning processes."
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