Fostering an environment where everyone is a teacher and learner

In this video, Gretchen Brion-Meisels reflects on the various roles that she plays while checking in with students in small group discussions. Depending on what she hears from students, she either digs in as an active participant or listens in and prompts students with an additional question before moving on. Regardless of what she does to keep students’ discussions generative, Brion-Meisels is committed to demonstrating humility in her approach to teaching. She actively acknowledges and models uncertainty in her own scholarship and practice which in turn encourages students to be vulnerable and share their own lingering questions and areas of uncertainty.


Gretchen Brion-Meisels, Lecturer on Education

Student Group



Harvard Graduate School of Education


Partnering with Youth in Educational Research and Practice

Group Size

23 students

  • Spend time reflecting on your position as an instructor and expert on your course topic. Reflect also on questions you still have about your content or role. Making time for your own reflection can make it easier to share questions and uncertainties with students and learn from their perspectives and feedback.
  • Participating in students’ small group discussions is an easier process when you also come to class having recently engaged with the course texts and materials. Rather than relying on your expertise of the topic, reviewing your readings or materials before class can help you see them in new ways, similar to how your students are approaching the coursework.
  • Corbett and Wilson argue that literature promoting educational reform should consider students as partners and educators should think of students as “participants,” suggesting student ownership of the classroom can advance educational reform (1995). 
  • According to Tinto, faculty play an important role in fostering a sense of belonging for students (2015). Relatedly, researchers found that the quality of student-faculty relationships is linked to positive learning outcomes (Micari & Pazos, 2012).