When she first joined the faculty at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, Meira Levinson identified as “an 8th grade classroom teacher who happened to find herself in a university.” Straddling these two contexts, eager to bridge academic rigor with the reflective practices she knew from K-12 classrooms, Levinson became interested in the idea of an online platform where Harvard instructors might share and gather purposeful, research-based teaching practices. Around this time, the Harvard Initiative for Learning and Teaching (HILT) was founded as a vehicle for lifting up great teaching and learning around the university. Noting her university colleagues’ growing interest in having conversations about their own teaching practice, Levinson teamed up with Associate Professor Jal Mehta and Associate Dean for Learning and Teaching Matt Miller to craft a proposal that eventually turned into the Instructional Moves (IM) project, an HGSE Decanal Initiative made possible by generous funding from HILT.
The core IM project team consists of Levinson as the principal investigator and HGSE’s Teaching and Learning Lab (TLL) as the design and development engine. After soliciting feedback from colleagues around the university, particularly through HILT’s Teaching and Learning Consortium, the IM team decided to focus its first modules on topics widely-used throughout the university: lecturing interactively and facilitating discussions. The next step was to identify faculty members from various settings across the university who employed these methods in exemplary ways, creating engaging and empowering learning environments for their students. After scouring course evaluations, teaching awards, and recommendations from peers, the IM team observed over 40 faculty members, eventually selecting a diverse cross-section of 15 exemplars. For each faculty member, the IM team conducted a multi-camera shoot of a featured class session and interviewed the faculty member and several of their students. Through an iterative design process, which incorporated several rounds of user testing, the team created the set of resources that comprise this website. We have also created a two-week online course on facilitating effective and inclusive discussions.
We are currently exploring additional ways to use IM resources for professional development, including in-person institutes at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and at other host campuses. If you have interest in these opportunities, feel free to contact Josh Bookin, Associate Director of Instructional Support and Development at HGSE’s Teaching and Learning Lab.
The IM team wants to take this opportunity to thank several partners who have played a key role in the project thus far:
- Harvard Initiative for Learning and Teaching (HILT), for their generous funding and thoughtful guidance
- Featured faculty members, for opening up their classroom communities and sharing their insights
- Harvard Media Production Center, for donating personnel and equipment to support this endeavor
- Harvard Web Publishing, for going above and beyond in helping create this website