Making Teaching Communal: Peer Mentoring through Teaching Squares




Teaching can often seem like an independent endeavor, and seeking out ways to engage in dialogue and exchanges surrounding teaching can be beneficial. Opportunities to observe peers’ teaching and discuss teaching practices, challenges, and experiences with peers can lead to an increased sense of community, a fruitful exchange of ideas, and ultimately more thoughtful and effective teaching (Hendry and Oliver, 2012; Lemus-Martinez et al., 2021). One venue for such engagement is the teaching square, an exercise in which teachers observe each other’s teaching practice, typically with the goal of self-reflection of one’s own practice rather than evaluation of a peer performance. We suggest that even as the common philosophy behind teaching squares emphasizes self-reflection, they can also be catalysts for peer mentoring among participants. This article discusses teaching squares as a peer mentorship opportunity, drawing attention to the benefits of cultivating peer mentorship focused on teaching practices. We provide an account of our experience in undertaking a teaching square and the informal peer mentorship that resulted.

Author Biographies

Angela George, University of Calgary

Angela George is an Associate Professor of Spanish in the School of Languages, Linguistics, Literatures and Cultures at the University of Calgary. She has taught all levels of Spanish as well as Hispanic Linguistics and language pedagogy courses. She has published several articles and book chapters on topics related to the teaching and learning of Spanish as a second and heritage language.

Miao Li, University of Calgary

French instructor at the University of Calgary, Miao Li received her PhD (2013) in French Studies from Queen’s University, Kingston. Her research interests include alterity and the image of China in the French Enlightenment fiction, women’s writing in the 18th centuries French literature, and language pedagogy. Her publications consist of 5 peer-reviewed articles and 4 editorially refereed articles. She is currently working on a co-authored book project, La Francophonie en Action.

Devika Vijayan, University of Calgary

Devika Vijayan received her PhD in French Studies from the University of Waterloo, Ontario in 2013. She is now Associate Professor in French and Francophone Studies at the University of Calgary. Her research focuses on French travel literature of 17th and 18th centuries and Jesuit writings on India.