The 2014 Teaching Professor Conference

Plenary Sessions

May 30 – June 1, 2014 in Boston, MA

Opening Plenary Session

Friday, May 30 | 5:15 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.

Becoming a Skillful Teacher

Presenter: Stephen D. Brookfield, John Ireland Endowed Chair, University of St. Thomas

Teaching skillfully requires a constant openness and flexibility to experimenting with whatever approaches help students learn. This means we need to build the critically reflective habit into our practice so that we can be as sure as is realistically possible that the teaching actions we take are based on valid and accurate assumptions about how our students learn. We need to know how students understand material, experience classroom activities, read meaning into our teaching actions, and make progress as learners.

In this presentation, Stephen Brookfield will present the core assumptions of skillful teaching:

  • Good teaching is whatever helps students learn, no matter how outlandish or strange that appears
  • The best teachers are critically reflective — constantly trying to see their practice through multiple lenses
  • The most important pedagogic knowledge we need to do good work is knowledge of how our students are experiencing their learning, week in, week out
  • Context changes everything

Throughout his talk he will draw on his own autobiographical experiences of teaching and learning to illustrate how these core assumptions manifest themselves in his own practice.

Stephen D. Brookfield, Ph.D.,

About the Presenter:

Stephen D. Brookfield, the John Ireland Endowed Chair, University of St. Thomas, St. Paul, MN, is the author of sixteen books on teaching and learning, including The Skillful Teacher: On Technique, Trust, and Responsiveness in the Classroom, 2nd Edition (Jossey-Bass, 2006). He is the recipient of many awards for his contributions to the scholarship of adult education. Since beginning his teaching career in 1970, Brookfield has worked in England, Canada, Australia, and the United States, teaching in a variety of college settings.


Saturday Plenary Session

Saturday, May 31 | Morning

‘Here We Are Now, Entertain Us.’ Strategies for Teaching Unprepared Students

Presenter: Ken Alford, associate professor, Brigham Young University

Students often arrive in our classrooms unprepared. How can instructors motivate students to catch up (if they arrived at college unprepared) or stay caught up (if they’re not staying current with day-to-day course requirements)? How can you increase student “buy-in” in your course? How important is it that you clearly demonstrate the relevance of your course to students? Should you provide students with “just-in-time” learning opportunities? If so, how?

We will engage each of these questions utilizing a review of the research to identify ways to structure your course to maximize student preparation and performance.

Ken Alford, plenary speaker

About the Presenter:

Kenneth L. Alford is an associate professor of Church History and Doctrine at Brigham Young University. After serving almost 30 years on active duty in the U.S. Army, he retired as a Colonel in 2008. While on active duty, Ken served in numerous personnel, automation, acquisition, and education assignments, including eight years teaching computer science and information technology at the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York and four years as Professor and Department Chair of the Strategic Leadership Department at the National Defense University in Washington, D.C.

Closing Plenary Session

Sunday, June 1 | Morning

Answers about Questions and Questions about Answers

Presenter: Maryellen Weimer, professor emerita, Penn State Berks and editor of The Teaching Professor

Do students ask teachers good questions? Do teachers ask students good questions? What kinds of questions arouse interest, stimulate thinking, and cultivate the love of learning? Do teachers’ responses to students’ contributions encourage others to answer and ask better questions? When teachers respond to students, do those responses encourage answers from more students? Do teacher responses cause students to ask more and better questions?

These are good questions with interesting answers that merit review and thoughtful consideration. Too often we take questions and answers for granted, forgetting that they are the teaching tool we most often grab. Pause here with me and consider what there might be to learn about questions and answers as we interrogate each.

Maryellen Weimer, plenary speaker

About the Presenter:

Maryellen Weimer has edited The Teaching Professor newsletter since 1987 and writes The Teaching Professor Blog. She is a professor emerita of teaching and learning at Penn State Berks and received Penn State’s Milton S. Eisenhower award for distinguished teaching in 2005. Dr. Weimer has published many books, including Learner-Centered Teaching: Five Key Changes to Practice (Jossey-Bass, 2002) and Inspired College Teaching: A Career-Long Resource for Professional Growth (Jossey-Bass, 2010).


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