Frequently Asked Questions - University of Houston
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1. What is the Common Ground Teachers Institute? 
Common Ground Teachers Institute [CGTI] is a yearly gathering of dedicated Houston-based educators at the UH Honors College. Every summer, educators engage in incisive, inspiring conversations about literature and teaching.

2. What is the purpose of the Institute?
CGTI is dedicated to the simple premise that high school students are best served by educators who are passionate about their work and who inspire curiosity, critical thinking, and collaborative learning through their own example. To such ends, the Institute annually invites educators to participate in a community of their peers, and to find common purpose in their love of literature, generative discussion, good writing, and steadfast commitment to their profession.

3. Why should I attend Common Ground?
Our surveys indicate that Teacher Fellows find CGTI a deeply rewarding and inspiring endeavor. Teaching fellows report feeling energized and renewed by the fellowship of their peers, and that they leave Common Ground full of ideas. In addition, CGTI is approved by the Texas Education Agency to award Continuing Professional Education [CPE] credits to Teacher Fellows who complete the program.

4. How does it work?
When you register from CGTI, you will rank your choice of seminar topics. These seminars are designed by UH faculty using quality texts that will engender lively conversations. Every effort will be made to assign you your first choice and you will be informed sufficiently in advance that you can get a head start on reading.

From Monday, July 8 to Thursday, July 11 seminar cohorts will meet for two sessions a day (9 - 11:30 a.m., and 12:30 -3 p.m.) to discuss assigned readings and to prepare for CGTI’s traditional grand finale. In the opening session, the seminar’s theme will be discussed, and teacher fellows will divide seminar facilitation for the coming week between them. In this way, TGCI seminar provides it Teacher Fellows opportunities to model and share successful discussion strategies and classroom tips with their peers.

Lunch is typically served in a plenary session to which Houston writers and cultural leaders are invited to speak.

On the morning of Friday, July 12, each of the seminar cohorts will present their findings, sharing key takeaways and insights with the other seminars. These presentations have taken any number of forms in the past, from interactive lessons, and readings, to skits and mock infomercials. Teacher Fellows will receive CPE credit certificates.

5. Will I be fed?
Yes. A continental breakfast will be available between 8:30 - 9 a.m., and lunch will be served between 11:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. In addition, there is a longstanding tradition Teacher Fellows provide snacks for their seminar cohort on the day they lead discussions.

6. What does it cost to attend Common Ground Teachers Institute?
Nothing. It is free to attend Common Ground thanks to the generous support of the McGovern Foundation. At the end of the week, you will be given a gift card to defray the cost of book purchases. In addition, the cost of your parking on campus will be covered.

7. How many places are there?
This year, we have space for 60 Teacher Fellows which are allocated on a first come first serve basis.  

8. Is Common Ground only for English teachers?
No. While discussion seminars deal mostly with literature and film,  all teachers are welcome.

9. Who do I contact with any further questions?
Dr. Max Rayneard is the Director of the Common Ground Teachers Institute. You can email him at