Teaching Circles


The most overarching definition of a Teaching Circle is a group of faculty who come together regularly to discuss a particular topic of interest related to teaching. Introduced by Pat Hutchings in her book Making Teaching Community Property (1996), the concept of the teaching circle has seen many decades of adoption and evolution, but a few characteristics are still core to the approach: the circle involves commitment, lasts at least one term, and actively addresses teaching challenges shared by the Circle’s participants.

For many years, CNDLS has facilitated faculty learning communities and communities of practice. Teaching Circles are very similar to these, but differ slightly in their relative informality and loosely structured approach to discussion sessions. This semester, as part of our ongoing response to the needs of faculty during the pandemic, CNDLS is facilitating several Teaching Circles on teaching topics that have generated interest across campus. We invite all of those teaching a course this semester—and those who taught last semester and would like to share lessons learned—to join one of the following Teaching Circles:

  • Large Course Teaching Circle

    This teaching circle is for faculty who are teaching courses with more than 100 students. This group discusses the unique challenges faced when teaching a large course, sharing strategies and best practices.

  • Language Teaching Circle

    Started as a faculty initiative in spring 2011, the Language Teaching Circle provides regular opportunities for Georgetown faculty across 14 languages to discuss pedagogical and programmatic approaches in beginning, intermediate, and advanced language programs.

  • Ungrading Teaching Circle

    Ungrading is a way to completely rethink your approach to assessment in your teaching. Truly student-centered, this approach focuses on the student learning, rather than the grade. In this teaching circle, we will be discussing the recent book Ungrading: Why Rating Students Undermines Learning (and What to Do Instead), edited by Susan D. Blum, to better understand the concept as well as examine examples, and developing ways to incorporate ungrading into our teaching practices. As a group we'll investigate and evaluate different approaches and brainstorm together possibilities for our own classes.

  • Hybrid Teaching Circle

    This semester, Georgetown has increased the number of classes taking place on campus using the hybrid format, with some students physically in the classroom and other students attending via Zoom. This teaching circle is an opportunity for faculty who are teaching in a hybrid form—or those considering it—to come and discuss strategies, challenges, and best practices in the hybrid classroom.

  • Engaging Georgetown’s History of Slaveholding in the Classroom: A Teaching Circle

    How can we confront, incorporate, and engage with Georgetown’s history of slaveholding in our teaching? In this teaching circle, we’ll consider strategies, skills and materials that can support our integration of content in our courses that give voice to this history across a range of disciplines.

For those who don’t see their concerns addressed in a theme above and would still like to join a Teaching Circle to discuss teaching with an interdisciplinary group of colleagues, we will also be offering an open-ended Teaching Circle:

  • General Teaching Circle

    Teaching, like scholarship, is best approached as a kind of public activity—and this is especially true in our current pandemic-teaching situation. In this teaching circle, we will gather to share ideas, express our frustrations and challenges, and work together on solutions and methods for maximizing student learning in our current remote and hybrid teaching settings. Drawing on the expertise and experience of our members, the focus of this teaching circle will be general and dictated by the interests and needs of those who join. One will be offered during business hours and the other after 5 pm to accommodate a range of schedules.

We kindly ask that faculty signing up for one of these Circles be ready to join monthly for discussion. To sign up for a Teaching Circle, please fill out the following form.

Teaching Circle Sign-up