Events and Activities

This page provides resources to help you figure out what events and activities your community can support, and what kinds of events and activities will best support your community. We have a wealth of examples including workshops, monthly discussion groups, coaching and mentoring, and more. 

Guiding Questions

The questions below are intended to be open ended, and give you space to have ideas.   If they feel overwhelming, or you don't know where to start, check out the resources further down the page.

Reflect on opportunities

Reflect on your audience

We encourage you to dream big and think creatively!

Lots of Examples of Events

Workshop Case Study

The MD-DC-VA COMMIT held an online workshop in August 2020. Here is a detailed description of their planning process and implementation

Ideas for and Examples of Smaller Scale Activities

There are so many ways to involve small numbers of practitioners in collaborative learning experiences. You can get an idea of what kinds of ideas are possible by looking at the New England list of events, which includes classroom visits, coaching, reading groups, professional learning communities, one-day workshops, and more. Below we dive into a few ideas, with some accompanying examples.

Zoom lunch / tea meetings

Example from New England:  

Every two weeks over Zoom.  These were initially organized by the leadership team, but now are grassroots organized with a shared spreadsheet -- anyone can sign up to host, and the host then chooses the time, chooses a theme (if any), and posts a Zoom link to a shared schedule spreadsheet.  

Example from IBLINC: 

In April of 2020 we initiated a weekly lunch series, encouraging participants to come during their lunch hour and to feel free to bring their lunch. Many participants ate with their cameras off before, while others found a different time to eat so that they could be fully present. But the stage was set for an informal gathering, where you could eat or snack in front of the camera and even take care of children or be interrupted by your pets. These initial meetings didn’t require any agenda: participants started by sharing some news about impacts of the pandemic, especially when there was math or teaching involved. Then we moved into immediate concerns that participants brought up with their newfound teaching modalities. These discussions often resulted in scheduling course observations, which were simplified by the fact that no travel was involved (previously we had tried to create a database of course times and locations for observation, but the community had not yet been successful in establishing a routine of visiting in-person courses). 

In the summer we transitioned to monthly lunches. With most people socially isolating and not travelling, these lunches were a way to break the isolation in the summer. We announced topics for these meetings, in advance, such as “Being Better for Black Students and Colleagues and Practicing Equitable Teaching” in June when the country was beginning to face a racial reckoning. Most months the topics were unneeded, as the group already came with much that needed to be discussed and unpacked.

In the fall, after a member survey, we transitioned to two different times to ensure maximum availability to participants. Each meeting was biweekly, so that overall we had one lunch per week. While the 10am Tuesday lunches often only had a couple participants, the noon Thursday lunches were better attended. 

These informal lunches are most needed when there is a specific demand. For example, a community with many new practitioners may find a desire for group mentoring or group brainstorming. Our community was new to online teaching, so we had an intense need for group brainstorming to develop new resources. When such a demand is lessened, there will still be some members who desire this sense of camaraderie, group mentoring, or group brainstorming, and indeed it is difficult to know how many without offering these informal events. Targeted programming, such as by announcing a discussion topic in advance, by starting a book group, or by organizing a Japanese Lesson Study, can fill that need for new practitioners while simultaneously continuing to provide a valuable and engaging experience for established community members. 

Classroom visits and reflection

Coaching / Mentoring  

Example from New England:  Experienced faculty serve as coaches.  Faculty who want to be coached submit an application to become Faculty Fellows.  The Fellows are assigned a mentor. See more details on the New England website.

Example from Upstate New York: Applications were solicited in the Spring/Summer for novice practitioners of inquiry to join an intensive August workshop and then be paired with a mentor for a semester. Intermediate and expert practitioners were given training to serve as a mentor by an external expert who was visiting to give a keynote talk at the Fall MAA Seaway meeting. Mentor-mentee pairs met weekly via phone, videoconference, or (if possible) in person over the course of the semester, to discuss the class, identify possible red flags early on, and provide a range of possibilities to deal with inevitable challenges. When possible, these weekly meetings would occur immediately after one of the scheduled class meetings. Each mentor would visit their mentee's class at least once during the semester, and each mentee would visit their mentor's class at least once. No observation protocol was used, but notes were taken during the observations to stimulate discussion.

Professional Learning Communities

A professional learning community is any small and consistent group of practitioners coming together regularly to learn together about a specific theme. 

Small Scale Activity Vignettes

To get you thinking about the implementation of some small scale activities, we created two vignettes to respond to. You can think about these on your own, or they would also make great short activities for a leadership team meeting or a discussion among event facilitators.

Vignette 1: Expertise at an Informal Lunch Discussion

Vignette 2: Equity Issues During a Peer Classroom Visit


Below are some tidbits of wisdom for using events and activities to support the longevity of your COMMIT, and for keeping the event planning process itself sustainable.

Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion

Making events accessible and inclusive

Below are some tidbits of wisdom to support diversity, equity, and inclusion in your events and activities.

Resources for running events centered on equitable and inclusive teaching

Small group discussions:  A learning community or discussion group is a great place for participants to deepen their understanding of equitable teaching as well as larger societal and institutional issues surrounding race, gender, and privilege. Choose an article or other resource and have a discussion.  No one needs to be an expert, but it’s a good idea to have some ground rules or common expectations about the discussion. Here are some suggestions. Below are places to start looking for readings; this list will be expanding in the coming weeks and months.

Workshop ideas:  

Creators Sara Rezvi and Rosalie Bélanger-Rioux have prepared a series of webinars and related assignments that discuss issues of equity, access, justice, identity, and inclusion. Join the community on MAA Connect to participate in the online discussions, and learn to facilitate conversations in your own community.

Further Resources