Teaching Through Emotions (TTE) Teaching Support

Teaching Through Emotions (TTE) is a series of one-on-one collaboration, workshops and support groups for faculty based on the idea that teaching is an emotional exercise, and that ignoring emotions in teaching can lead to misalignment, ineffectiveness, and burnout.  

The program is supported by the Office of the Dean of the Faculty, and facilitated by a Betsy Burris, an independent consultant who has been working as a teacher, teacher educator, and teacher supervisor for almost 35 years, as a psychotherapist for 10, and as a facilitator of teacher support groups for six. She specializes in instructional design and the psychodynamics of teaching and learning. Betsy has a PhD in education from Stanford University and a MSW from Smith College.

Workshops, groups, and support available for Early Career, Mid-Career, and Late-Career Faculty (contact Betsy for information):

Course Design

Faculty who are creating new courses, revamping old courses, or adjusting to inherited courses (alone or with a co-teacher) can receive instructional design support. Using a backwards design approach, faculty create their final assessment(s) first, then design intermediate assessments and activities to prepare students for success. Faculty can join a facilitated group or work individually with an instructional design coach. Course Design session ideally occur over the summer and during Winter Study.

Tactical Support Groups

These groups focus on teaching methods. How do I run a good discussion? What do I do about students with wildly different skill levels? How should I handle requests for extensions? How do I make and use a rubric? Group members bring their questions to regular meetings and explore them with the end goal of forming an effective instructional plan. The Tactical Support Groups also offer ongoing support to course design participants from the summer session and Winter Study,  and give participants a chance to discuss challenges with implementing their course plans. These groups are confidential, are organized to diminish power differentials among participants, and are offered throughout the academic year.

Emotional Support Groups

These groups focus on the range of feelings that accompany teaching, including, but not limited to: self-doubt, anger, confusion, and anxiety, with an eye toward helping faculty navigate the various emotions that accompany teaching. Participants share stories from their teaching, and the group examines the stories through a psychodynamic lens with the aim of (1) normalizing the emotions; (2) understanding what they mean about the teacher, the students, and the classroom relationships; and (3) devising an informed plan of action. These groups are confidential, are organized to diminish power differentials among participants, and are offered throughout the academic year.

Administrator Support (designed exclusively for Mid and Late-Career Faculty)

Even the best Department or Program Chair can improve upon their management skills. TTE’s administrator support offers unit chairs a chance to reflect on relationships in the workplace and design, with the help of a psychodynamically oriented facilitator, techniques and strategies meant to ensure open communication, navigate challenging situations, and establish best practices for evaluation. This work can happen in small groups such as Chairs’ Roundtables, or individually, and are offered on a regular or as-needed basis throughout the academic year.