I recently co-facilitated a workshop of sorts at the 2015 POD Network annual conference in San Francisco, CA. The workshop was for faculty developers or those interested in it. Although the topic focused on exploring the power and possibilities of unconference models as a transformative approach to faculty development, this post discusses the results of one exercise we worked through.
Participants were challenged to respond to the following prompt: “What questions are currently guiding your thinking about faculty development?” Thoughts were recorded on post-it notes that were transferred to the wall for later organization and discussion. I often ask faculty to reflect on a similar question about their instruction/course design in my own work as a faculty developer. I have found this approach very fruitful for exploring not only WHAT instructors are thinking about, but HOW they are thinking about it. Got to love the Meta!
Here are some of the questions that emerged from this conference experience. I’ve arranged them in some rough categories that clearly overlap:
Reflections on Center Practice/Structure
- How do we move to a more faculty-driven model that moves beyond the traditional workshop model?
- How can I support a culture of reflective practice?
- How do I get faculty to engage in longer-term programming (e.g. – FLC)?
- How do I get a critical mass of faculty to be reflective about their teaching?
- What are the levers for changing the reward structure so that quality teaching is valued?
- How do we make all learning relevant?
- How do we empower faculty?
- How do I convey the value of what we do at the center to the president and provost?
- How do we collect practice data to inform instruction and professional development?
- How can we help top administration value improving teaching and learning development?
- How do I get departments to consider department level program goals and learning outcomes?
- How can I avoid mission creep as more items get added to Center portfolios?
- How can I continue conversations started at workshops and events, particularly in online settings?
- How do I get buy-in?
- How do I get faculty to show up?
- Why is traditional faculty development so resistant to change?
As faculty developers we are acutely aware of the complexities that we must navigate daily. We are in a constant state being politicians, promoters and problem solvers.
Reflections on Faculty: Motivations, Learning, and Change
- How do faculty conceptualize expert performance in their disciplines? (getting into the minds of faculty)
- What do faculty need?
- How can we motivate faculty to be interested in improving their teaching?
- How do we encourage more reflective practice?
- How do I motivate faculty to embrace innovative practices?
- How can we better connect faculty to each other in conversations?
- How do I unearth what faculty need to work effectively on a particular project?
- How do we encourage faculty to try innovative teaching methods?
- How do I attract the faculty who really need the development?
Faculty developers are acutely aware that content expertise does NOT mean that one has sufficient pedagogical knowledge and experience to promote deeply engaged learning. Throw technology and space on there and it becomes even more complex; hence TPCKs.
Reflections on our Identity as Faculty Developers
- How do you start in faculty development when this isn’t what you’ve done before?
- How are we supposed to drive innovation when we are in staff roles?
- What is “Just in Time “- when is that?
- How do “new” faculty developers develop the “credibility” to get seasoned faculty to see them as legitimate or potentially helpful?
- How do I balance my time with my demands of teaching?
- I have so many questions about my work as a developer.
- How do I avoid becoming routine in my approach?
- How do I develop a personal learning network of faculty development innovators?
As faculty developers, we are seemingly in a constant state of self-exploration, discovery and reflection. I believe it is what makes our work both frustrating and powerful. Frustrating because of the many obstacles that define our work. Powerful because we often model the change we wish to see. Our META is so CONCRETE.