October 2020 Newsletter

Teaching Academy: Promoting, Recognizing and Supporting Excellence in Teaching & Learning

As you navigate the challenges of this unprecedented semester, we hope you find time to read and enjoy this month’s newsletter, which includes updates, and multiple ways of staying connected with the Teaching Academy.

This month: We share information about the Healthy Academics Toolkit from University Health Services, and responses from Academy members to questions posted in the Academy Forum.

Questions or comments about the newsletter? Contact Dan Pell, Editor  dan.pell@wisc.edu

Trouble viewing this email? Open in Google Docs: Teaching Academy October Newsletter


Banner header for Active Teaching Lab schedule for October:

  • Oct 14: The Art of the Breakout Group: Fostering student-to-student learning in the remote environment. | Register
  • Oct 21: Feedback tools in Canvas: Making meaningful comments on student work and helping students find feedback | Register
  • Oct 28: Nine Days after Thanksgiving: Meaningful learning after the switch to remote learning | Register

Members Only Roundtable: An MOR will be held later in the Fall semester. Details will be shared later.

Share events, workshops, news, or other notices for Teaching Academy members at teachingacademy.wisc.edu/teaching-academy-internal


On Friday, October 2nd, the UW-Madison Teaching Academy offered a free virtual retreat addressing issues of diversity and inclusion. Caitlyn LoMonte (she/her/hers), the Program Director for Social Justice Education in the Office of Inclusion Education offered an educational session including self-reflection and small group breakouts:

Striving for Social Change: Growing Our Capacity to Build Inclusive Communities

The event was attended by over 275 people across campus. Participants reflected on their own identities and how their identities impact their work and role on campus; grew their understanding of their connection and relationship to privilege and power; and discussed ways to take action to build inclusive communities.

Vice-Provost of Teaching & Learning John Zumbrunnen (he/him/his) also the challenges of creating inclusive communities, connecting it to the Wisconsin Experience.

Want to review the materials?  Couldn’t take part?  It’s not too late!

Save the date for the Winter Retreat, Friday, February 5, 2021.


The Teaching Academy thanks these volunteers whose efforts made the Fall 2020 Retreat a success: Angela Kita | Bobbi Skenadore| Bri Meyer| Dan Pell (Chair)| Dorothy Cook | Franklin Hobbs | Heidi Evans | Jenn Kowalkowski | John Parrish | John Martin | Katrina Thompson  | Louis Loeffler  | Patrick Hills-Meyer  | Sarah Hagedon  | Sarah Zurawski  | Simone Schweber  | Stephanie Campbell | Thomas Dubois | Tim Dalby | Warren Scherer


Driven by UW-Madison student health and well-being indicators, UHS has created a Healthy Academics Toolkit that offers evidence-based strategies and campus resources for faculty, instructional staff, and TAs across campus.   Additionally, Claire Barrett, PhD, Prevention Specialist, is available for individual faculty and departmental consultation for those interested in developing healthy academic settings.

Screenshot from Healthy Academics Toolkit showing a graph and part of the interface.

UHS Prevention is committed to working with faculty, instructional staff, and teaching assistants across campus to advance health promoting policies, environments, pedagogy, and knowledge of resources that support the health and wellbeing of students and our campus community. Please contact claire.barrett@wisc.edu for additional information.

Banner header for The Academy Forum


Member Responses

The answers were selected from contributions by Academy members to questions posed in the Summer newsletter. Click here to view a printer friendly version and read the full text of the October 2020 responses. Thank you to all our readers and contributors!

What has been your funniest or most embarrassing remote class or meeting experience?

  • I tried to be cool (efficient) and preassign breakout rooms for a creative writing activity but didn’t allow students to select their own rooms. We sat there, silently, me staring at them, and them at me, waiting for something to happen. A student wrote in the chat – “Is class over?” — Jeffrey Thomas (“JT”), Affiliate, Department of French & Italian
  • Week 2 of remote instruction in the Madison schools: My 1st Grader walked in on me in the shower and announced “My classmates can see me but I can’t see them.” Luckily he didn’t pull back the curtain!  — Dan Pell, Fellow, DoIT Academic Technology
  • I have five children, ages 2 months to 14 years, and we are all at home learning and working together, so, as you might imagine, NO ONE ZOOMS ALONE around here, and interruptions abound. Plus, my tiniest colleague always makes an appearance. — Sarah Jedd, Fellow, Communication Arts

How have you sought feedback from students on their experience of remote instruction? What were students’ top requests based on that feedback?

  • … I asked the students to anonymously share what was the easiest and hardest part of learning virtually on a whiteboard in a Blackboard session. Top easiest: Flexibility, learning in PJs, spending more time with family. Top hardest: Technology, time management, social isolation from professors and other peers. — GL, Fellow
  • … Some of the top feedback: mixing asynchronous course days with synchronous course days set the pace for the course and discussion; Zoom is great, but would be more engaging if everyone turned on their camera; “informal discussion posts are more engaging – I feel like I actually want to participate and interact with my classmates” — Jeffrey Thomas (“JT”), Affiliate, Department of French & Italian
  • One question I added to evaluations during remote instructions was “Which Emoji best expresses how you feel right now?” … it’s a nice way to “check in” — Dan Pell, Fellow, DoIT Academic Technology
  • … Top requests are not to use BBC Ultra because their connections in China do not work well with it.  They much prefer Zoom. — Adam Pergament, Fellow, ESL Program
  • … feedback I specifically seek can be divided into four “buckets”:  1) What they find helpful and would like me to keep; 2) what they need me to change or correct in the short-term; 3) what I should consider changing the next time I teach the course; and 4) anything I should know or do now to help them be more successful. — Pam McGranahan, Fellow, School of Nursing
  • Students are really happy to have opportunities to engage with their peers in real time, but they generally prefer to have the ability to work through lectures and assignments asynchronously for maximum flexibility.  — Sarah Jedd, Fellow, Communication Arts

How do define a classroom community? How can this be built in both shared physical and shared virtual spaces?

  • I define a classroom community where all participants that are part of the classroom (both students and teaching staff) have a mutual respect and empathy for one another. …  — GL, Fellow
  • To me, a classroom community in a foreign language classroom is a space where we all recognize and share the risks and vulnerability of speaking/reading/writing a foreign language – in particular, that we might be misunderstood. … — Jeffrey Thomas (“JT”), Affiliate, Department of French & Italian
  • … The hardest thing has been to find ways of creating a sense of a learning community where some students are f2f and others are online — in the same course.  I think it’s helped to emphasize reflective writing & journaling, and allowing multiple ways for students to interact with one another before they write …  — Dan Pell, Fellow, DoIT Academic Technology
  • Relationships require active trust-building. Instructors need to build informal, low-stakes places for regular interactive, peer-to-peer learning — and give it time to develop. Shorten this time by structuring *and modeling* prosocial behavior. Look to the elements of Wisconsin Experience … as a guide.  — John, Fellow
  • I think it’s harder to foster online, but the same principles of mutual respect and engaged dialogue are in play.  — Michael, Fellow, Department of Labor Education
  • … I think one crucial part of creating community is for the students to have thought-provoking, reflective assignments that also ask them to share with a partner or small group outside of class time. Sharing life to some degree, and not just tasks, is key.  — Stephanie, Future Faculty Partner, Educational Psychology
  • No short answer to this….but for now I would mention the idea of mutual respect and a willingness to help each other through assignments by asking questions in class and working well in groups.  — Adam Pergament, Fellow, ESL Program
  • Virtually, I create breakout spaces or create group discussions or assignments that help to connect us.   — Pam McGranahan, Fellow, School of Nursing
  • A classroom community is a place where people come together to build knowledge. In the online world, I see this happen in really meaningful ways on the discussion board and through peer review assignments. Both ask students to engage directly with each other’s work, and both produce meaningful connections. …  I am always amazed at how thoughtfully students construct and receive classmate feedback.  — Sarah Jedd, Fellow, Communication Arts


The Academy Forum is a space waiting for YOU to fill it! This is a chance to share ideas and inspiration with Fellows, FFPs, Affiliates & partners across campus! Why not take 5 minutes to share a few thoughts right now? Contribute to the NEXT Academy Forum: go.wisc.edu/theacademyforum

  • Zoom, Teams, Blackboard, Webex, Hangouts … What do you like about them? What do you not like?  And how do you choose between them for different purposes?

  • Have you been teaching face-to-face in a classroom with physical distancing?  What have you and your students done to make it work?

  • How can we care for international students in our campus community in times of social and political strife?

Submission Deadline: Please submit your answers by December 14, 2020. Responses included in the newsletter will typically be less than one paragraph, but in some cases we may include a longer response. Responses may be edited for brevity and to fit the format of the newsletter.

Clinical Teacher Learning Community: Network, Explore, Build. "Furthering Clinical Education"

Clinical Teachers’ Corner October Feature: Interprofessional Education (IPE)

Delve into a plethora of IPE resources and faculty development opportunities and find new ways to add IPE into your clinical teaching HERE.

Collaborate! Developing curricula doesn’t have to be scary! If you have an interest in developing new or existing areas of curriculum complete this survey and get connected to our team. All types of curricula are welcome, UME, GME, CME etc.!

Questions? Announcements for the next issue? Email Sara Scott: (sfscott@wisc.edu)


The mission of the UW-Madison Teaching Academy is to promote, recognize and support excellence in teaching and learning among faculty, staff and students across campus and beyond. There are three types of membership: Future Faculty Partner (FFP), Fellow, and Affiliate.  We welcome nominees who work in traditional classrooms, clinical practice, field instruction, or instructional support with learners at any level.

Read about how to Become a Member. Nominate yourself or a colleague!

Are you an FFP who has moved on to work in the University?  Contact Sarah Hagedon sarah.hagedon@wisc.edu to discuss changing your status from FFP to Fellow.


  • Active Teaching Labs: Improve campus teaching by helping to plan, organize, and facilitate instructor-to-instructor sharing of experiences using technology to teach better. Contact john.martin@wisc.edu
  • Newsletter & Academy Forum: Join the planning committee, contribute to the forum, act as guest editor for the Academy newsletter. Contact dan.pell@wisc.edu
  • Fall Retrea​t | Winter Retreat:  Join the committee to plan, organize & facilitate campus-wide teaching development events. Contact dan.pell@wisc.edu
  •  U-Class: Explore teaching and learning from the student perspective by attending our U-CLaSS sessions. Contact jamie.henke@wisc.edu
  • Analytics Committee: Help ensure that we are capturing the right information to determine who our programs are reaching, whether participants find them valuable and, most importantly, if there was something they learned through participation. Contact jkowalko@wisc.edu
  • Affiliate/Clinical Affiliate: Teaching experiential courses, from clinic to fieldwork? Become involved in growing the clinical affiliate or affiliate program. Contact wenker@pt.wics.edu
  • Nomination Committee: Honor great campus educators & promote excellence by helping to review nominations to the Teaching Academy. Contact wenker@pt.wics.edu
  • Executive Committee: Seeking FFP members to spearhead all major Teaching Academy events and activities throughout the course of the year, and provide invaluable insight and experience to the larger Teaching & Learning community. Contact jkowalko@wisc.edu