Teaching Observation Partnership (TOP) For Recently Hired Faculty

the letters T O P

In-person participation strongly encouraged for biweekly meetings; hybrid can be accommodated. Course observations will require on-site participation.

Alternate Mondays at 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm starting on January 29th

What is TOP?

Instructors observing others teach is a rich and informative experience that leads to new ideas, approaches and connections. The goal of this partnership is to increase conversations about teaching and build a teaching-focused community. 

Through respectful dialogue and reflective discussions, this community will refine their instructional practices, experiment with innovative teaching methods, and foster professional growth. This program is entirely formative, non-evaluative, and voluntary.

To keep the conversations and connections meaningful, space will be limited. Acceptance will be on a first come, first served basis.

What participants have said:

“It’s fun. It provides fresh views on teaching. It’s a good way to meet people outside the department. It’s a great way to explore ideas you may have about how to change up your teaching. Seeing people teach in other departments allowed me to focus on the teaching independent of the topic.” – 2023 TOP member.

“If our goal is to educate students to the best of our abilities we need to ensure that what we are doing in the classroom is effective. What better way to learn about effective teaching practices than to observe others who are passionate about teaching and trying creative approaches in the classroom and having others observe our practice.” – 2023 TOP member

“Classroom observations are a wonderful way to learn new teaching approaches in diverse classroom environments while simultaneously getting feedback on ways to improve the techniques that you are currently using. It’s also a great way to build relationships with faculty in other units that you might otherwise never meet.” – 2023 TOP member

How does it work?

  • TOP members will first partner with an observation mentor, another faculty member who has experience with formative observations of teaching.  Together you will observe at least one of UMaine’s Community Classrooms (another pilot program this spring!) to explore what it means to formatively observe teaching, how to use observation tools, and discuss feedback processes. One observation should take ~ 1.5-2hrs of time.
  • Once comfortable with the observation process, TOP members of recently hired faculty will work in pairs or triads, preferably cross-disciplinary, to observe each other through the semester. These observations will also include access to faculty Brightspace pages. We aim for 1-2 observations (respectively) during the semester using recommended observation guidelines. Each observation will require ~3 hours of time. 
  • Participants will also meet as a whole group throughout the semester for community discussions to learn about classroom observations, reflect on and discuss the observation process along with teaching practices that inspire or intrigue you.  

Who can participate?

  • Any recently hired faculty who will be teaching in the Spring 2024 semester and is willing to have their classroom and LMS observed can register. 
  • Online and face to face courses are welcome in this program, as observing any modality is a goal of this experience.

When and Where?

Every other Monday at 12:00p.m. scheduled to be in-person and will be held in Fernald Hall Rm 102. Parking can be found at the Lord Hall parking lot or the Steam Plant parking lot.

  • January 29th
  • February 12th
  • February 26th
  • March 11th *Spring Break Begins – group will determine if and when we meet*
  • March 25th
  • April 8th
  • April 22nd
  • May 6th

The goal of this program is to gain inspiration and ideas from colleagues through observation, and receive feedback on what you want, when you want it. No information gathered or shared about your teaching will be used by CITL in any way. Participants will decide if you wish to document this work as a part of your teaching portfolio, and discuss effective ways to do so as a group.

Participants who complete the program will receive a $250 stipend.