Perspective from Dr. Jenny Hoit: Co-Teaching is Fulfilling, Fruitful, & Fun

March 26, 2024
Jenny Hoit

Dr. Jenny Hoit

Dr. Jenny Hoit has served as a faculty teaching mentor for Dr. Alyssa Sachs (2023-2024 Postdoc Pathways fellow) and Dr. Ayako Kusakabe (2022-2023 Postdoc Pathways fellow). Both times, she and her mentees have co-taught a unique course for graduate students called Survival Skills and Ethics. In this piece, she shares how co-teaching has positively influenced her teaching and what she’s learned from the experience.

Long, long ago (28 years ago, to be exact) I created a graduate course called Survival Skills and Ethics that combines topics in professional development with ethical issues. This course began in my home department of Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences but ultimately became a university-wide course. One of the great benefits of teaching a course with such broad appeal and application is that I am able to include co-instructors from a broad range of disciplines. When the CIRTL Postdoctoral Pathways Program was launched, I was enthusiastic about providing a mentored co-teaching experience using this course and have been fortunate to have mentored two CIRTL postdoc co-instructors during the spring semesters of 2023 and 2024.

For the co-teaching portion of the CIRTL program, postdocs typically take the lead during a single module of the course lasting from two to four weeks. However, unlike courses that can be divided into modules, Survival Skills and Ethics moves from topic to topic very quickly. It is for this reason that the postdocs and I have agreed that their participation is best spread across the entire semester, but with the postdoc taking the lead on just a few preselected topics. One of the primary benefits of using this approach is that by the end of the semester the postdoc should feel prepared to offer a similar course at another institution. Because Survival Skills and Ethics is not discipline-specific, it is possible for postdocs from any discipline to offer such a course. 

The experience of co-teaching with these two postdocs has been fulfillingfruitful, and fun. It has been fulfilling to watch the postdocs grow in confidence over the semester and to watch them become more effective in their ability to engage the students in the material, facilitate discussions, and deliver content. The co-teaching experience has also been extremely fruitful for my own pedagogical development and for the enrichment of the course. Each postdoc has brought with them new ideas gleaned from their CIRTL courses, readings, and Faculty Learning Community conversations. Finally, and most of all, it has fun to teach side-by-side with these postdocs. It has been a joy to work together to create the best possible learning environment for the students, one that feels supportive, positive, and constructive. 

Working with these postdocs has been a real treat. I highly recommend the Postdoctoral Pathways Program co-teaching experience to my fellow faculty!