Reading Higgins’ book has made me think more about teaching as a practice and our relationship to other educators as a part of that practice, which has been timely, as I recently organized a teacher development workshop for the numerous adjuncts teaching our Introduction to Philosophy course. This is the second time I’ve run such a workshop. I’ve been very preoccupied in running these meetings not to waste the adjuncts’ time and they are not required to attend in order to teach the course. Fortunately, I was able to secure some money from the Office of Undergraduate Education to pay the adjuncts for their time and our department pitched in for food and coffee, but I did feel at the end of the meeting unsure as to whether we should continue to have these every term.
Since we leave it up to the adjuncts to choose their readings, come up with the syllabus, and design the course, one goal of the meeting is to make sure that we are all on the same page with course requirements, learning objectives, etc. This is particularly helpful for new adjuncts. However, we have a whole bunch of adjuncts who are quite experienced and have taught this course for us many times. Since I wanted to make this meeting useful for them too, I focused a significant part of the meeting on pedagogy—sharing handouts, class activities, ideas for how to organize paper assignments, how to give feedback, etc. Though we did share a fair number of ideas about how to teach the course, I ended up feeling that those ideas could have been shared over e-mail, the course website, or an internal blog. And yet, I do have a sense that talking in person with each other about teaching is valuable. I think in order to run a meeting like this in the future successfully I need to be clear about what is that added value. Ideas?