Unconditional Teaching start

Workshops (English)

Tyll Zybura, 3 Oct 2019

In our workshops we communicate the ideas and practices that we have developed in the Unconditional Teaching project. We give tools to teachers and experts in education at universities and schools that improve their lessons and their communication with learners. We provide strategies that help teaching professionals to

  • work with learners in a solution-focused way
  • communicate more empathically
  • ask questions that are oriented toward student needs
  • develop teaching and exam formats that take students seriously as self-determined learners
  • be mindful of their own mental health – and that of their students.

We bring coaching mentality to all our workshops and we will always adapt our methods and exercises to the needs of the teaching professionals at your institution. Our workshops can be held online or locally, in German or English.

Contact us via email (team@unconditional-teaching.com) to discuss details. We look forward to hearing from you!

Our workshop portfolio

The freedom to teach: exploring our own teaching personality

Our understanding of what it means to be a teacher is often shaped by other people’s expectations and by the experiences we made ourselves with our own teachers. To engage with your own needs, skills, resources, attitudes, and communication strategies as a self-determined teacher helps to experience yourself as capable and authentic.

Together we will explore what constitutes your teaching personality, which obstacles in your work as a teacher you would like to overcome, which goals you have when it comes to your development as a teaching professional, and how you can express your joy in teaching in ways that are authentic to you.

This workshop will focus on the following topics:

  • Exploring your own attitude towards teaching: What is good teaching for me? What does it mean to be a good teacher for me?
  • Introversion and extraversion in the classroom: Who am I when I am teaching? Who do I want to be when I am teaching? Which communication strategies do I find authentic and enjoyable?
  • Identifying your own skills, resources, and needs as a teaching professional
  • Using space, spatiality and physicality in everyday teaching environments
  • Confidence and performance: Recognizing and using your freedom to teach
Empathy in relationships of teaching and learning: communicating as human beings

Our social wellbeing as learners and researchers has an immediate impact on our curiosity, our retention capacity and our creativity, which are the corner stones of good scholarschip. Students will always be more motivated to be self-determined learners when they have teachers who engage with them on eye level as human beings.

In this workshop I will teach strategies that help to counter the strongly hierarchical and authoritarian structures which often influence our relationships in education and to practice an empathetic stance toward students, to appreciate individuality and diversity, and to build relaxed and caring relationships in teaching and learning.

I will bring with me a toolbox full of advice on how we can communicate on eye level and be responsive to student needs in flexible and solution-focused ways, so that lessons, office hours and email communication become more comfortable for us and our students, and so that we can act confindently and mindfully even when communication is difficult.

Improving mental health and practicing mindfulness in learning and teaching relationships

The weight of expectations, performance requirements, and hierarchically structured relationships in everyday university contexts are a strain on the mental health of teachers and students alike. Although much of the work-related stress has its roots in systemic issues, individual staff members and students are left to their own devices when it comes to preserving their mental health.

In this workshop we will take a look at the institution and its role as well as our individual agency in practicing self-care and support our students with their psychosocial wellbeing. We will talk about how we can incorporate mindfulness into our everyday practices as teacher – not just for our own benefit, but also for the students in our seminars and office hours – and what we can do to increase public awareness for mental health issues.

The workshop will focus on the following topics:

  • Self-care strategies for teaching professionals
  • How to find mental health professionals in my community
  • “First aid” for colleagues and students in psychosocial crises: How to communicate empathetically and refer others to mental health professionals
  • Mindfulness and communication strategies for teaching situations and office hour consultations
Learning as a community project: collaborative seminar design

Learning works better the more agency learners have in shaping their own learning processes. When we as teachers or instructors give students the opportunity to exert their agency, students are not only more motivated and experience themselves as capable and self-determined, but it also releases us from the necessity to plan the entire seminar by ourselves without knowing whether our plans really provide what our students need.

In this workshop we will explore the teaching mindsets and the concrete teaching methods that make seminars more collaborative. The workshop offers assistance in conceptualizing seminars in which the needs of students take center stage and in which students decide what kinds of processes and exams are most helpful to their learning.

Topics include but are not limited to:

  • How to take on responsibility for processes rather than results
  • How to communicate with equality and respect
  • How to design flexible seminar schedules
  • How to make decisions together
  • How to teach with students’ needs in mind
  • How to develop meaningful tasks and exams together
Digital teaching - mindset, communication, practice

The discourse around digital teaching often revolves around technology, software solutions, and platforms. We are bombarded with links and tools, handouts and tutorials that promise a quick transition to digital teaching formats. Yet, increasing technologization easily alienates our teaching from what makes it successful, namely the shared pursuit of knowledge, collaborative learning and mutual inspiration.

In our workshop, we therefore want to focus on the people involved in digital teaching and learning. We will provide strategies for teachers to bring the relationships aspect of our work back to the foreground and to place technology entirely at the service of communication and self-determined learning. We convey a mindset that allows technology to fade into the background and enables us to relax and selectively choose only those ‘tools’ that are good for us and our students.

Other concrete topics of the workshop:

  • needs-based and appreciative communication with learners
  • collaborative design of online seminars
  • meaningful task design (synchronous/asynchronous)
  • mental health of teachers and learners in online seminars
  • awareness of participation requirements of teachers and learners (keywords: accessibility and digital divide)
Teaching how to write with agency I:
solution-focused writing consultation with Magic Questions

In this workshop, I teach strategies taken from solution-focused coaching that can be used in consultations with students regarding their term papers and thesis papers. This includes a focus on student needs that allows us to place our teaching expertise entirely at the service of our students and take them seriously in their own academic research interests.

Additionally, I will introduce methods of asking specific ‘Magic Questions’ and of listening with intent to activate the expertise and resources that our students already have. This will empower them to make contributions to the academic discourse that are meaningful to themselves.

Teaching how to write with agency II:
appreciative responses to student writing

In this workshop, I teach my personal methods of giving appreciative feedback in the form of peer-reviews and how they can be integrated into the supervision of student papers in an effective and efficient way. These methods have proven useful in aiding students experience self-efficacy in their writing processes. The in-built feedback-revision-loop frees students from some of their anxieties and they learn to write more effectively.

In the workshop, we will practice these methods using texts written by students (that you bring or I provide) and we will discuss the results together.

The two workshops „Teaching how to write with agency” can be booked together or separately.

Academic practice as a form of learning: designing project seminars

Students rarely experience that the results of their class work are treated as academic contributions and not just as objects of evaluation. This has an impact on whether or not students find what they do at university meaningful and motivating.

In this workshop, we will introduce different types of seminars that give students the opportunity to be taken seriously as academics and researchers: for example, the Writers’ Room in which the publication of texts written by students is the main goal; or the Research Seminar where students present the results of their individual projects to a larger audience in a course conference.

Together we will collect ideas for other formats that fit the needs of the students’ and workshop participants’ respective academic fields. We will also work out steps and processes that are central to the success of project seminars.