New Teaching Expectations — Curricular Planning

Dear Colleagues,

As you know, at last month’s faculty meeting, the Educational Affairs Committee presented their final version of proposed new guidelines on Teaching Expectations to the faculty and administration. Faculty Council offered a “sense of the faculty” vote to gauge faculty opinion of the new guidelines, which were endorsed by a comfortable majority. I am happy to report that the president has accepted the EAC’s Teaching Expectations guidelines.

One useful outcome of the process of developing these guidelines has been increased communication between the EAC and department chairs. EAC members met individually with chairs and directors to discuss the impact of the proposed guidelines on their department or program, and how the new system might best serve their curriculum. These discussions should, we hope, provide a useful model for how departments can use the guidelines to shape their curricular planning as we move towards implementation in 2012-13.

The goal of the new guidelines, as articulated by the EAC, is to create a structure that allows for the most transparent and strategic use of teaching resources. The increased flexibility they provide should encourage—and in fact, will require—more long-term thinking and planning with regard to teaching schedules and teaching loads within departments and programs. The new guidelines also create more space for curricular innovation, and we hope will make it easier to adopt promising proposals that emerge from the curricular task forces.

At a Chairs’ Meeting last week, we reviewed a proposed curricular planning process with department chairs and program directors. Recognizing that each department has its own structure and curricular needs, we emphasized each chair’s responsibility for overseeing a planning process that results in (1) consistent coverage of needed courses, (2) equitable distribution of teaching assignments, and (3) optimal use of staffing resources. By outlining a specific timetable for this planning, we stressed the need for collaboration among departments and programs to ensure that proposed teaching assignments serve not only department needs, but those of the college-wide curriculum, including interdisciplinary programs, the FYS  and College Writing Programs, and Winter Term. In particular, we asked that interdisciplinary programs submit requests for desired courses to participating colleagues and their department chairs in the earliest stages of the planning process, to increase the likelihood that such requests can be accommodated.

To assist in the planning process, we have created two forms that will replace the current Teaching Load forms. One form will be completed by individual faculty, following instructions from his or her chair/director; the second will compile those requests into a departmental worksheet. These forms are available at:
(Note that they will be submitted as Word files this year, but will be Web-based in the future).

Chairs and directors will be in touch with their colleagues to outline a process for completing these forms.

Gathering information about proposed teaching assignments will allow the EAC and administration to review curricular plans in advance, rather than simply responding to information about courses that are already registered, or reacting to curricular decisions years later when a position request is submitted.

A more strategic use of teaching resources will allow us to attain many important curricular goals, including future implementation of senior work, as supported by the faculty’s vote at the November meeting. We in the administration are very grateful to the EAC for their hard work in creating the new guidelines, and we look forward to working with the EAC, with department chairs and program directors, and with faculty colleagues to achieve our shared goals for the Middlebury curriculum.



Alison Byerly
Professor of English
Provost and Executive Vice President
Middlebury College
Middlebury, Vermont 05753

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