University of Wisconsin–Madison

Winter Retreat

The winter retreat is a half day event, sponsored by UW-Madison Teaching Academy, and its partners, the Vice-Provost Office for Teaching and Learning, Office of Professional & Instructional Development, Madison Teaching and Learning Excellence Program, and DoIT Academic Technology. Right before the Spring semester starts, we meet for a morning to share ideas on teaching and learning topics that have been creating a buzz on campus.


2019 – Friday, January 25th, 8:30am-11am, DeLuca Forum, WID

Register here!

Theme: Fostering the Wisconsin Experience: Purposeful Action

The UW-Madison Teaching Academy’s Winter Retreat is open to all educators — faculty, staff, and graduate students — our fourth and final deeper dive considering ways to foster the elements of the Wisconsin Experience, “Purposeful Action” focuses on ways to motivate and develop self-regulated learners through engagement that aligns their interests and applies their learning in the service of authentic local and world problems.

Committee Members: John Martin (chair), Debra Bellinzani, Tim Dalby, Tom Dubois, Jennifer Kowalkowski, Carolyn Liesen, Lous Loeffler, Daniel Pell.

If you are interested in helping to plan or facilitate the 2020 Winter Retreat, please contact


2018 Theme: Fostering the Wisconsin Experience: Empathy and Humility. January 26th, 8:30am-12pm, DeLuca Forum, Wisconsin Institute for Discovery

The 2018 Winter Retreat dug into how to foster Empathy and Humility in our work and teaching. With a dynamic keynote speaker, small and large group discussions, and a panel of educators who will share examples, participants left with practical ideas on fostering empathy and humility that fit their unique positions on campus. View the Winter Retreat Agenda and Collaborative notes: 50 Ways to Foster Empathy and Humility

2017 Theme: Teaching in Decisive Times

In an increasingly-polarized culture, teaching and learning are being framed as ideological actions. How do we navigate this in our course spaces? Is discussion an important part of learning? What are best practices for having discussion go well? How do we get students to prepare? This year’s Winter Retreat discussed Teaching in Divisive Times and featured the School of Education dean Diana Hess, and fellow Grawemeyer Award in Education winner Paula McAvoy, who shared why discussion of controversial topics is needed now more than ever, and how to structure them in a college classroom.

In this interactive session, Diana Hess and Paula McAvoy argued that universities are important institutions for preparing people for democratic life and that classroom discussion is an essential feature of that education. Keeping democratic aims at the forefront of our teaching practice becomes even more important as our country becomes increasingly divided by ideology and partisan politics. Participants engaged in a small group discussion activity that helped them a) experience and reflect upon the features of high quality classroom discussion and b) think more deeply about the democratic aims of the university. View the event agenda here.

2016 Theme: Beyond Rate My Professors: The Future of Course and Instructor Evaluation. Thursday, January 21st from 8–1:00pm in Union South.

At a time of increased accountability, universities are under pressure to build effective methods for evaluating courses and instructors and to make data available to faculty, academic planners, students, and other stakeholders. The UW Teaching Academy 2016 Winter Retreat will tackle these thorny issues. A white paper authored by David Baum and the Teaching Academy Executive Committee for developing a supplemental course evaluation system built around the established UW-Madison Essential Learning Outcomes was presented, and a panel discussed broader issues of the design, implementation, and interpretation of evaluations of student learning, including departmental course/instructor evaluations. View the event agenda here.

Teaching Academy Whitepaper: “Supplemental, ELO-based Campus-wide Course Evaluations.” David Baum’s slide presentation on the white paperMo Bischof’s opening remarks.

2015 Theme: Identifying Communities of Practice. Friday, January 16th from 8:30–noon in Union South. Visit this link for resources for the working session.

2014 Theme: RELATE: Rethinking Effective Learning and Teaching Engagement. Friday, January 17th, 8:00–1:00 in Union South. Program.

2013Professor Richard Halverson, from the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis, gave a keynote on Learning to Notice in a College Classroom, sharing strategies for constructing peer groups for ongoing teaching improvement, and using data about student learning and behaviors to inform changes in our teaching. Mr. Christopher Carlson-Dakes also gave a talk on The Peer Review Process: What’s in it for me?

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