Category Archives: professional development

Whoops, I Did it Again!

NAU Lumberjill

I am a lifelong learner but have to confess, it’s been many years since I took a credit class for an actual grade or credit. Oh, I’ve noodled around and taken credit classes like Hiking, Body Sculpting, even Accounting, but that was for sh*ts and giggles, not for reals. I have long felt an emptiness and a yearning to go back to school for something concrete and real, not simply for fun. Don’t get me wrong, the fun classes were mostly health-related and that is a very good thing, but I felt a need to work on my mental muscles.

SO, to make a long story short, I found the program I have been searching for – I am enrolled in NAU’s Master’s in English, Professional Writing program. It is scary and exhilarating at the same time. I had to dig up an old transcript when applying for the program and realized I haven’t taken classes towards a degree since 2003! Whoa, times have changed and that is a long time to not have homework, exams, or for time spent on study. I have had 13 years of playing video games, goofing off, and relaxing with a boatload of free time. That is gone, long gone.

I completed two classes in fall and just started one this spring. I have gotten over the panic of navigating my first online course and am now digging in and getting into this whole new learning gig. My plan for 6×6 is to document the journey and path I just stepped foot on.

Wish me well, good peeps!

 

 

 

How Do You Rank in Terms of the Top Ranking Capabilities of Successful Graduates?

successLast Friday, February 19, from 8:30 am to 11:30 am, I attended a presentation/workshop with Dr. Geoff Scott from Western Sydney University. I wasn’t given much information about the presentation other than I was invited along with the other Center for Teaching & Learning Directors, Instructional Designers, and Faculty Professional Growth Directors in the district. In fact, I wasn’t really looking forward to it. Who wants to spend a Friday listening to someone talk about assessment. Not this girl. Turns out Dr. Geoff Scott, Emeritus Professor of Higher Education and Sustainability at Western Sydney University and a National Senior Teaching Fellow with the Australian Office for Learning and Teaching is on a fellowship trip visiting colleges and universities across the world. Maricopa was lucky enough to be his only community college stop. His focus was on “Powerful Assessment in Higher Education” and it was quite entertaining. Of course it helps if the presenter has a funny accent and throws out words like bloody, whackit, popo, and mucking around. For example, he told us we have to detoxify the POPOs on our campuses: The pissed on and passed over. I really got a kick out of listening to him and time flew by. Mostly because he was an excellent storyteller. His delivery of the content came alive and was very informative.

The one thing that stood out for me was a list he shared with us that came out of the research they did. They discovered what the top ranking capabilities were successful graduates. The list made me think about my own successes and how my own capabilities contribute to that success. It also made me think about my colleagues that I work with on a daily bases. It reads like a dream list to me, as not everyone is as capable in all 12 areas, but it is something to aspire too. Have a look for yourself. Where do you stack up? How successful are you in your job?

Top ranking capabilities successful graduates in 9 professions

  1. Being able to organize work and manage time effectively
  2. Wanting to produce as good a job as possible
  3. Being able to set and justify priorities
  4. Being able to remain calm under pressure or when things go wrong
  5. Being willing to face and learn from errors and listen openly to feedback
  6. Being able to identify the core issue from a mass of detail in any situation
  7. Being able to work with senior staff without being intimidated
  8. Being willing to take responsibility for projects and how they turn out
  9. Being able to develop and contribute politely to team-based projects
  10. A willingness to persevere when things are not working gout as anticipated
  11. The ability of empathize and work productively with people from a wide range of backgrounds
  12. Being able to develop and use networks of colleagues to help solve key workplace problems

Professional Development and Reflection

     I have always been a reflective learner and thinker.  When I began teaching, I had a long drive to and from work, and I used that 45 minutes to think on the day and its lessons--my lessons--and how students had learned or become engaged.  So when reflecting became a mandatory part of our teacher portfolio each year, I thought No problem.  This is amazing.  And did I ever reflect.  I liked knowing that the person who evaluated me was getting to see such a valuable piece of teaching that was beyond the reach of a classroom observation.  And I'll just say right now, this is one reason why [NERD ALERT] I like writing my IDP.  I want my colleagues and evaluators to know more about my teaching.  Reflection is a critical part of teaching that takes place all behind the scenes.
   
     And this takes me to professional development.  I've always liked professional development, including the time we played with marbles or had to put on skits and even the time I had one of my most embarrassing moments with all the English teachers in the district present.  Nope, not getting that one out of me.  But the key to professional development, for me anyway, is having time to process all the learning, to really anchor it in with my current knowledge and understanding.  I'm sorry to say I haven't always had that time.  I'm lucky to have been able to work in two districts that so value professional development and really lucky that the second one allows me more time to do the reflecting.
   
     So when I attended Mary and Jennifer's LearnShop on Friday--Developmental Education: Teaching Learning Strategies and Critical Thinking--I was happy to get time to think and reflect during the time there, on the drive home, and over the course of the weekend.  I already applied what I learned to one of my courses.  As my friend Alisa Cooper said, "Learning is my passion...[and]...I want to learn new things."  I will continue to take advantage of as much professional development as I can and, if able, share it with people who want to hear about it.

My Professional Development is Important to Me. What About You?

busy-coop

Maybe I should take a Photoshop class.

I’m a busy person. We’re all busy, but being the Faculty Director of the Center for Teaching, Learning & Engagement has really challenged my perception of what is really busy. But no matter how busy I am, one thing is always constant; I always have time for professional development. I’ve participated in pretty much everything Maricopa has offered us. MIL – Done. MET – Done. MSI – Done. Sabbatical – Done. Learning Grant – Done. Multiple times. Summer Projects – Done. Diversity Infusion Program – Done. What ever dollar amount district makes available for us to travel – I spend every dollar. Every year.

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Learning is my passion, as I demonstrated in my Ignite GCC talk last semester. It’s just something I can’t turn off. I want to learn new things. Every day! So I always have time for professional development. Which is why I’m so surprised that the CTLE doesn’t attract bigger crowds. Isn’t everyone like me? Doesn’t everyone live for professional development? Unfortunately, no. Faculty are busy. They’re either doing their own thing or just can’t find the time. This is unfortunate indeed because we are awesome if I have to say so myself. :)

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The CTLE team works hard each week to combat this lack of interest in “our” professional development. We offer rewards for blogging, and then debate about the healthiness of these rewards. We throw big events like Ignite GCC and GCC’s Rockin’ New Year! We offer all the latest trends in education as workshops, and to combat the ever present comment, “I can’t make that time,” we offer the “Have it Your Way” form where faculty and staff can choose their professional development AND when it is offered. Just for you.

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So this might sound like I’m about to complain, but I’m not. Yes, I would love to see every single person on this campus come through the CTLE for professional development (actually that would be quite overwhelming), but the reality of this is, that’s not going to happen, no matter what we do to get them here. And I’m okay with that because the people who do come, and who do participate and engage with us, are the most awesome people I’ve ever worked with. They make it all worthwhile knowing that we were able to help fuel their own passion for learning. So I hope you all keep coming.

Flipping the Classroom, One Video at a Time

The “flipped classroom” is all the buzz lately. I really like the idea of it, and I have tried to get students to prepare ahead of time so we can do interactive activities during class. In addition to this, I assign projects that require students to apply the knowledge from their study.

Last summer, my ACE students were struggling with an activity and asked for more time in class to do the project. I obliged, with an agreement that they would have to watch the lectures outside of class. I spent the better of two afternoons recording the lectures using Screencast-O-Matic and Power Point slides. They were not perfect, but they worked, and the extra in class time to help students apply the material was awesome!

Last week, as we were working on an in-class activity about the atmosphere, one of my students remarked, “I wonder what it would be like to be a storm chaser!” Many others responded, and a great discussion ensued (I love when that happens!). I do know a storm chaser, in fact, she is a former student – and I even have had her come as a guest speaker before. So I contacted her, but unfortunately, she is now working a “real” job, and cannot get away during my class time. The next best thing is to make a video of her presentation.

…Here I go, trying out something I’ve never done before. Oh, wait, isn’t that professional development?

This time, instead of talking over Power Point slides, I thought it would be more engaging if my speaker could do her talking in front of a green screen and then display her photographs or video behind her. Lucky for me, the CTLE can help with that. I met today with Cheryl Colan to learn more about how it’s done, just to see if it is a doable project. We had so much fun! I even made a video of myself with instructions for my speaker about what she should prepare when we are ready to film. It took about an hour to film and publish the very short video. I even put one of my own storm pictures behind me. Here I am, finishing up the recording (Cheryl suggested I put this picture in my post):

6x6-screenshot

The CTLE has a recording room, complete with green screen, computer loaded with the right software, camera and microphone, special lights, and even a teleprompter. Cheryl also told me that when you reserve the recording room, you are also reserving her services – that way she is available to help you through the process.

I definitely learned something new today! I know this video will probably be the only project of this kind for this semester, but little by little, I might just end up with a collection of them.

 

Out with the old and in with the new! Part I

CINDY: The professional development opportunities offered by MCCCD are one of the greatest benefits of our work. During my fifteen years with the district I have attended many workshops, learned all I know about technology, attended a major conference each year, taken a sabbatical, and received summer and MCLI grants. A highlight of my career was being an MIL Fellow and my indoctrination into the scholarship of teaching and learning. Classroom research and reflective practice are now a normal and constant part of my work.

This year I was asked to be a PAR mentor and my professional development took a new and unique turn. On some days it takes place “across the hallway” with my colleague Sherry. Our dining room tables, the patio, a restaurant or two, and GCC patio tables have been the sight of serious professional development sessions, too! Inherently, “brainstorming and talking out ideas” with colleagues is how I best learn and plan for my courses, but somehow I think this relationship was also borne out of the adage “everything old is new again.” I say that because we seem to have similar training and experiences but working with Sherry has helped contemporize and re-energize my classes. In fact, I am finally parting with my mimeographed handouts and omitting or revising lessons (AND even posting them on Canvas! Thanks Sherry!)

 

Sherry: As I sat in a training listening to Chris explain the essential element of reflecting with my PAR mentor, I was laughing to myself because I am ALWAYS reflecting with my mentor, especially now that we are hallway buddies:) Cindy and I started our venture with our Supercharging 081 grant, which has led to incredible things. I remember my first semester where we had our RDG 081 students read Dracula, and she laughed because I added all the current pop culture vampire themed movies, television shows, and other books. She holds me accountable with her questions, and makes my own reflections define what outcomes I desire for my students.

The last two semesters we have been co-planning our CRE 101 classes. We have even implemented several co-teaching sessions, taking it a step beyond simple observations. Cindy has been a mentor that I can bounce ideas off of, ask numerous questions, make mistakes, disagree with, but most importantly she makes me feel like a valued and respected colleague. It is a give and take relationship….and the true definition of professional development in the sense that our collaborating leads to amazing teaching!!!!

Stay tuned for some specific examples of lesson transformations!!!!

 

 

 

 

Professional Development Potpourri

     There are so many ways to get professional development, and I make use of as many of them as possible.  For the very literal, there is the popular conference.  Conferences can be found all over the globe and on myriad topics from The University of Hertfordshire's Open Graves, Open Minds: "The Company of Wolves': Sociality, Animality, and Subjectivity in Literary and Cultural Narratives--Werewolves, Shapeshifters, and Feral Humans to "WIRED & INSPIRED: The Intelligent Use of Technology in Higher Education" to the University of Roehampton's single day "Daughter of Fangdom: A Conference of Women and the Television Vampire."  I just finished attending the second one in my list, and my brain is overflowing with ideas. I sat in structured sessions, took notes, and brainstormed ideas.  I will take back my learning and slowly begin to implement some of the ideas.
     I also enjoy the professional development that takes place between colleagues who work on studying/learning something together.  For example, I once participated in a year long book group where we read books about the Millennials because we wanted to understand our students better. Books we read and discussed included Nurture Shock and Generation Me.  Our discussions included ways our lessons may/may not be working for this generation's students.  This professional development was small group, and we created the focus based on what our interests were and where our struggles existed.  The conversations were thoughtful and paced to our needs.  My attitudes toward my students changed, and I adapted my lessons to my audience.
     Then, for me, there is another valuable method of gaining professional development: independent reading and studying.  This can range from really good short articles to books on both pedagogy and content.  I find a lot of these readings from Twitter where I follow people/organizations who tweet about education, composition, or literature.  The best education ones I follow include Higher Ed Chat, Mark Barnes, Diane Ravitch, and Edudemic.  For research and citation, I follow Easybib.  For my literature interests, particularly gothic literature, I follow Bernice Murphy, Linnie Blake, Gothic MMU, Xavier Aldana Reyes, and Irish Gothic Journal.  These readings happen at times when I have a spare few minutes--enough time to read a linked article.  I try to immediately make a connection to something I'm doing in class.  Many times Twitter provides a breathtaking synchronicity with what I'm working on or a quick idea for new ways to start class.
     I have a lot I could say about planned or spontaneous conversations with colleagues.  I find myself listening to their words long after we've parted and reflecting on my practice in light of a single tidbit or two they have generously shared with me.
     I believe professional development is learning, and learning can take place in many ways.

Sharing Success

Student Success is a frequent topic and a constant influence in higher education. It has a multitude of meanings stemming from a student’s idea of what makes them successful to administration gauging the rates of graduates from year to year. But what does Student Success mean to me or other staff members who are not involved in the decision making process and do not have frequent or direct interactions with students? How can you be a part of making students successful? For me it’s going the extra mile to help others when needed. Whether it’s helping someone navigate through our system over the phone or offering training sessions to other employees. Going that extra mile to assist someone promotes student success without directly interacting with students. GCC’s success is dependent on its members and if we can’t take the time to help each other when needed, then how can we be there for our students. Success can be contagious if only we can learn to share.