Instructional Foundations Series: Description and Requirements for Fall 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 Fall 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.

In order to earn a completion certificate for the Instructional Foundations Series, participants must complete all of the following program requirements:

  • Attend a minimum of 3 workshops (according to the below distribution requirement).
  • Perform a teaching observation and debrief meeting with a faculty member of your choosing.
  • Post a reflection on the series blog and respond to peer posts by the specified deadlines.

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. How to plan a Class Session:
    August 31 from 9:05-10:20 a.m.
    OR September 1 from 11:15 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
    OR September 14 from 7:00-8:15 p.m.

  2. Turning Potential Disruptions into Learning Opportunities:
    September 8 from 11:15 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
    OR September 9 from 9:05-10:20 a.m.
    OR October 6 from 7:00-8:15 p.m.

  3. Teaching So All Your Students Are Included [Part 1]:
    October 7 from 9:05-10:20 a.m.

  4. Teaching So All Your Students Are Included [Part 2]:
    October 14 from 9:05-10:20 a.m.

  5. TA 101 - Survive and Thrive:
    August 24 from 9:05-10:20 a.m.

  6. Handling Hot Moments in Your Course
    September 15 from 11:15 a.m.-12:30 p.m.

    OR September 30 from 9:05-10:20 a.m.

  7. Collecting Feedback that Promotes Learning
    September 21 from 9:05-10:20 a.m.

List B

  1. Feeling Confident and Comfortable Teaching in a U.S. Classroom
    October 13 from 9:05-10:35 a.m.

  2. Crafting Your Teaching Philosophy Statement for the Job Market
    September 14 from 9:05-10:20 a.m.

    OR September 29 from 11:15 a.m.-12:30 p.m.

  3. Doing Research on Your Teaching (and Publishing It)
    September 22 from 11:15 a.m.-12:30 p.m.

  4. Building Transparency Into Your Course Will Help Your Students Learn
    Tuesday, 9/28/21, 9.05-10.20 a.m.

  5. Leveraging Technology to Promote Learning
    October 5 from 9:05-10:20 a.m.

  6. Preparing Your Diversity Statement
    September 23 from 9:05-10:20 a.m.

  7. Feeling Confident and Comfortable Teaching in a U.S. Classroom
    October 13 from 9:05-10:35 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, November 14, 2021. Be sure to register for the IFS Reflection Activity on our Events page.

Important Dates:

  • Register for and attend three workshops between 8/24-10/14
    (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 10/15
  • Completion of teaching observation and interview no later than 10/15
  • Post reflection online no later than 10/30
  • Comment on three peer posts no later than 11/14

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.