Instructional Foundations Series: Description and Requirements for Spring 2021

Instructional Foundations is a series of workshops for graduate students, postdoctoral scholars, and instructors from all disciplines who have never taught at the university level (grading experience OK) prior to Spring 2021. The series is designed to provide people new to college teaching with knowledge, skills and confidence they can use in their first teaching experience. As a participant in this series, you will gain:

  • information on best practices from the teaching and learning literature
  • opportunities to discuss implementation with a group of peers
  • a chance to discuss teaching techniques and strategies with an experienced instructor in your discipline

Overall series objectives:

Upon successfully completing this course, you should be able to:

  • articulate an approach to planning a lesson
  • know how to handle challenging situations that may arise in your classroom
  • explore one of your own teaching interests
  • reflect on your beliefs and practices about teaching and learning

Series completion certificate:

While this series does not serve as a formal “certification” process, it does provide you with documentation of your participation in this professional development opportunity. This certificate may be included in your teaching portfolio as evidence of your professional development as an instructor.

You can earn a completion certificate from SITE by attending a minimum of three (3) workshops according to the following distribution:
2 from List A and a third workshop from either List A or B.

NOTE: You need to only attend any given workshop topic once. Be sure to register on our Events page.

List A

  1. Planning a Class Session:
    January 1 from 10:10-11:25 a.m.
    January 28 from 12:05-1:20 p.m.
    February 17 from 10:10-11:25 a.m.

  2. Handling Challenging Situations in Class:
    February 16 from 12:05-1:20 p.m.

  3. Teaching So All Your Students Are Included:
    February 11 from 12:05-1:20 p.m.

  4. TA 101 - Thriving as a TA:
    January 26, from 12:05 to 1:20 p.m.

  5. Spring Cleaning: Keeping Zoom Teaching Fresh:
    February 23 from 12:05 to 1:20 p.m.

  6. Using Assessment to Promote Learning:
    March 10 from 10:00 to 11:05 a.m.

List B

  1. Well-Being for Instructors: Why, What, and How?
    February 18, 12:05-1:20p.m.

  2. Promoting Well-Being for Our Students
    February 25, 12:05-1:20 p.m.

  3. Using Reflection to Thrive as an Instructor
    March 17, 10:10 – 11:25 a.m.


Important Note: In order to get credit for your attendance, you will need to check-in personally with the workshop facilitator after the session and identify yourself as an IFS participant.

Identify a “burning question”* that you have about teaching and then identify an instructor who is currently teaching a course that you can observe where you can investigate that question further and:

  • Observe that instructor
  • Interview that instructor about your observation
  • Post a reflection on the Series blog about your observation (sites.psu.edu/ifs16, password will be distributed at a later date to those registered for the reflection session (see next bullet below); please note, you will need to e-mail drl21@psu.edu to gain access to the blog before you can post anything)

*Some examples of so-called “burning questions” are: “How do you get students to want to participate in class?”, “What are strategies for diffusing heated interactions between students, or hurtful/intolerant comments made by students?”, “How do you make learning an “experience” for students, instead of them being passive?”

Note: Observation in any course modality is acceptable.

  • Read and comment on at least 3 of the reflection posts shared by the other IFS participants on the Series blog by 11.59 p.m, April 16, 2021. Be sure to register for the IFS Reflection Activity on our Events page.

Important Dates:

  • Register for and attend three workshops between 1/12-3/17
    (be sure to speak with workshop facilitators for verification of attendance and request that they send a verification email to Deena Levy and Larkin Hood)
  • Register for IFS Reflection Activity to indicate your intention to participate in the Series no later than 3/17
  • Completion of teaching observation and interview no later than 3/17
  • Post reflection online no later than 3/31
  • Comment on three peer posts no later than 4/16

For more information:

If you have questions about the series, please contact one of the facilitators, Deena Levy or Larkin Hood , as soon as possible.

PLEASE NOTE: The series completion certificate does not count toward the Graduate School Teaching Certificate.
For a complete list of the requirements for the Graduate School Teaching Certificate, please click here.