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Centre for Teaching & Learning

Image of red chair from alumni house

Centre for Teaching & Learning

The Open Chair Project

The Open Chair Project

The Open Chair Project is an initiative to provide the Trent teaching community the opportunity to learn, share and celebrate teaching at Trent. Trent has a long history of remarkable teaching expertise that is typically reserved only for the students in courses. The Open Chair project is opening the learning environment to welcome others to take a chair, as a guest, in a lecture, seminar, or tutorial, to witness teaching practices first hand. The learning opportunity is for the guest. This is not an evaluative process for the Instructor. The Open Chair project is open to Faculty, Instructors, and graduate students who want to see teaching in action!  

Host Instructor

Hosts are provided with the opportunity to open one or two particular classes where they anticipate student engagement in purposeful learning. These classes will be declared “Open Chair” and the Centre for Teaching and Learning will facilitate arranging for a guest.  Host instructors will be notified in advance that a guest will be attending and it is suggested that they reserve a few minutes at the end of their class for a brief discussion with the guest instructor. 

Guest Instructor

As a guest in the host instructor’s class, guest instructors will observe the class without interrupting the flow of learning. It would be appropriate at the end of the Open Chair class to engage in a brief discussion with the host. This discussion can focus on your observations of student learning and engagement.  For an complete overview of Open Chairs openings currently available, please see Roster of Trent Faculty with an Open Chair.

Questions & Follow-up

There is no expectation of a follow-up but you may wish as the Guest Instructor, to write a short reflection of the experience and how it will impact your practice.   Any questions about what you observed, should be directed to the Host Instructor as only they can speak to their teaching context as you witnessed it.

Suggested Reflective Questions after the visit:

  • What makes this class a positive learning environment?
  • How are students engaging with the course content?
  • What kinds of collaborative structures are in place to foster learning?
  • How are “wrong ideas” addressed?  How is student discourse facilitated?
  • How are the students building knowledge?
  • What have you observed today that has informed your practice?
  • What is one new strategy you would like to implement in your own class?
  • What have you learned about yourself as an educator?
  • What new questions do you have?


Open Classes at RDC are located at http://ctlrdc.ca/teaching-development/open-classes-at-rdc/


After a guest instructor has had time for personal reflection, if they would like to have further conversation with the host instructor and / or the CTL Educational Developer, the Centre for Teaching and Learning can facilitate this. Please contact:

Robyne Hanley-Dafoe, Open Chair Project Lead
Educational Developer, Centre for Teaching and Learning