Telling Berkeley’s story about teaching and learning, across campus and in the public sphere.

Teaching is at the heart of what we do—feeding our collective hunger for knowledge and knowledge sharing. In an effort to enhance teaching-focused dialogue on the Berkeley campus, the Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) brings you the Berkeley Teaching Blog. See our guidelines and submission policy.

April 25, 2017

Grading. The often loathsome task we, as educators, describe as everything from a necessary evil, to a sorting mechanism, to the greatest impediment to studentlearning. Every pejorative term possible has been leveled at the process of grading. However, in a realm of grading where it is indeed a necessity, hope springs eternal for ways to make the process better. And, dare I say, even make grading something to be excited about.

I want to talk about thinking as teaching.  Let me start with a story.

January 10, 2017

December 13, 2016

Without a Screen Shot 2016-12-09 at 1.42.43 PM.png, It’s just a Machine *

Forgive the over simplistic dualism of the title. Of course we can be, and almost always are (or should be), both teacher and learner at the same time. But, as a semester’s end approaches and a break is in sight, it’s time to consider how to spend that now vacant “teaching” time.

October 20, 2016

It’s October which is National Cyber Security Awareness Month so we’ve all heard from our IT colleagues about how we should avoid being lured into a moneymaking scheme, being hacked, or having a ransom note for all our data suddenly appear on our computer screen.  But it’s the everyday disasters that we create for ourselves that should put fear into our hearts.

Part 1 in this blog series ( discussed the opportunity digital pedagogy provides to reflect on why you teach the way that you do and to explore current learning theories.  In addition it listed a few books that you might find interesting in further developing your teaching practices.  

October 19, 2016

Being located in such proximity to Silicon Valley and the start-up culture that permeates the region means the term “innovation” gets thrown around quite often. But,what does innovation mean for teaching and learning? We can often see it easily when embodied in a new financial app, or furniture product design. It gets trickier when we look at pedagogy.

August 17, 2016

August 5, 2016

As a new semester approaches, and demands on your time grow exponentially as classes commence, it's important to exert some sense of control over the chaos that ensues. The best way to do that is to utilize teaching time savers - 8 of which are highlighted here - that may not just save some time, but add value to teaching and learning as well. Work smarter, not necessarily longer...

May 18, 2016

For the last several decades many in the field of Education focused on what word should precede the word “learning”.  Should it be “traditional”, “online”, “blended”, “hybrid”, or in some cases, just a letter, like “e”?   Many of those same words have also been put in front of the word “teaching”.

Let’s see a show of hands: Are you a great teacher? (hint: you can be)

  • Have you ever felt like not matter how hard you try, the students just aren’t getting it?

  • Have you ever felt like teaching is a constant uphill challenge, that rarely let’s up - and you’re still waiting to see the other side?

April 8, 2016

This note describes a method for critiquing student work (and colleagues’ drafts, come to think of it) that greatly increases the efficiency of the process compared to written comments.  I discovered it by accident, when I graded a bunch of papers on a portable dictating machine while traveling, back in the day when professors didn’t have laptops but did have assistants. I gave the tape to mine to transcribe.

This memo describes a mechanism for evaluating class participation in courses where it matters, refined and developed over a couple of decades but surely not perfected. 

February 23, 2016

The concept of early and ongoing check-ups is simple, and applies readily to our teaching in the form of feedback. It’s early in the semester, but it's never too early to do a thorough systems check to make sure the students, course, and you are ready for takeoff (or need to circle back for a quick fix).

December 14, 2015

If everything went perfectly for your class this semester, there’s no need to read on, because you shouldn’t change anything. For the rest of us mortal instructors, there is rarely, if ever, such a thing as a perfect class. Teaching is a practice of constant iteration and improvement, never a destination.

December 12, 2015

The lecture has long been a topic of rich debate in the field of education. Questions about should we, or shouldn’t we lecture persist. I’d like to argue that it’s not quite so simple, and a reductionist approach to determining the value and use of lecturing eliminates insight into good pedagogical practice overall, and the real value of the tool itself as a mechanism to promote student learning.

December 10, 2015

Pure and simple, I love teaching using technology.  It gives me an opportunity to “be there” when a teachable moment occurs without having to be in the same place as my students.  It allows me to see beyond their eyes and into the minds of each of my learners.  And yes, it allows me to teach from the beach, the mountains, and from home when my family needs me.

November 16, 2015

You’ve likely heard some variation of the adage before. It goes something like this: “Don’t practice until you get it right. Practice until you can’t get it wrong." While often used in athletic circles, the origin of the phrase (as best we can determine) is actually found in education in 1902.