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Monday, August 20, 2018

Butterflies

submitted by Peg Balachowski, Associate Dean of Teaching & Learning at EvCC
 
I love butterflies. This summer I have been watching butterflies in my garden, and am delighted when they flutter around, landing for just a moment on a flower before heading off to search for more nectar.

The kind of butterflies I don't like are those I get on the first day of class. Walking into a classroom with a group of new students, wondering what kind of impression I’ll make has always made me a bit nervous. When I share this with students, they can hardly believe it - What? they say...but you’re the expert! You’ve been teaching a long time! Why do you still get butterflies on the first day??

Delaney J. Kirk Ph.D. from University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee (and who has 27 years teaching experience!) still gets a little nervous at the beginning of a class. In the most recent edition of the Faculty Focus blog she outlined 10 tips for getting ready for that first day:

Faculty Focus


  1. Develop your own routine before going to class. Take a short brisk walk beforehand. Twirl your wrists to gently shake the stress out of your arms. Relax your shoulders; people tend to “hunch up” their shoulders when tense. Do some deep breathing.
  2. Check out your classroom before the students get there. Walk around and get familiar with the room, podium, how the seats are arranged, etc. Make sure you know how to work any technology you’ll be using.
  3. The first few minutes are crucial. Your students are curious about you and the course. Everything (how you dress, walk, present yourself) are clues as to your personality and credibility. Walk briskly and with purpose into the classroom.
  4. Chat briefly with the students as they come into the room to make yourself (and the students) feel more comfortable.
  5. Act confident and enthusiastic about what you will be doing that first day. Don’t say that you are nervous as this makes the students uncomfortable and you will lose credibility with them.
  6. Also, it’s best not to tell your students that this is the first time (if it is) that you have taught this particular course. You should know more about the topic than they do so they’ll assume you’re an expert.
  7. Use notecards or form to gather information about your students (name, email address, past class experience with the topic, work experience, etc). This takes the focus off you and onto the task which gives you time to get comfortable.
  8. As you begin, make eye contact with two or three people in various parts of the room. Learn their names and use them several times. You are essentially beginning to build a relationship with your students.
  9. Be enthusiastic about being in the classroom so that they will be also. Don’t just stand behind the podium but move around and move toward them. Look happy to be sharing your knowledge with them.
  10. Start with something that is easy for you to talk about. Tell a story you’ve told often before, read something that is relevant to the class from the newspaper, share something from your days as a student or talk to them about why you went into teaching.

Are there some ways that you prepare for the first day? What do you do to help with that nervous feeling on Day 1 of the course?

Monday, August 13, 2018

Nudges

Submitted by Peg Balachowski, Associate Dean of Teaching & Learning at EvCC

It’s August, and that means the days are getting shorter (bit by bit). You are might be looking forward to a vacation or at least some time away from the classroom. Summer term, even though it’s shorter, sometimes seems like the longest of all! So given that you might still be teaching a summer class or are planning your getaway to relax and rejuvenate, have you started planning for your fall courses yet? Have you considered how you might “humanize yourself” in your classes, demonstrating to students that you are supportive, without adding to your workload? Here’s an intervention that could prove to improve student retention and possible improve their performance in your course. 

I recently read an article on the Evolllution website (yes, that’s how they spell it) called Small Changes, Large Rewards in which the author, Zoe Cohen, Assistant Professor in the College of Medicine Tucson, University of Arizona, says “By identifying struggling students and sending them personalized emails encouraging action and providing support, educators can make a significant difference to the success of their learners.”

Cohen provides sample emails. In one of the samples, she connects with students who have failed the first exam: “I was looking at the exam #1 scores for (Course name) and saw that you didn’t do as well as expected. Since it’s still early in the semester, now is the time to try and figure out what went wrong and how we can fix it. I have some quick questions for you that I’m hoping you’ll be willing to answer for me.” In this email she lists some questions that ask students to reflect on things like class participation and exam preparation. After sending this email for the first time she worried that there would be a “backlash” from students, blaming her instead of taking responsibility for their behavior. Instead, she got some amazing responses from students, thanking her for taking the time to care about them! And not only that, there has been an improvement in student average grades.

Read more about Dr. Cohen’s experience, and think about how you might nudge students to move them towards success in your course.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Revisiting Online Quizzes

Are you working on or planning to revise the tests in your classes soon? Rather than just refreshing or updating the questions, Derek Jorgenson, Instructional Designer at EvCC, encourages you to take a step back and think about exams in the larger context of assessments. Listen to a two-part podcast about Revisiting Online Quizzes at the Center for Transformative Teaching blog. Handouts and other resources are also available.


Monday, July 9, 2018

The Spark of Learning

What are you reading this summer? Will it be a “beach read” with some fun capers in lovely Paris? Will your list include detective novels (like the Harry Bosch novels I love)? Will the list include some of the classics, like “To Kill a Mockingbird” or maybe “Moby Dick”? If you are more interested in keeping up with your professional reading while you sip your morning coffee or tea and relax on the deck, the 5-Star Consortium faculty development specialists have some recommendations.

I am starting my summer reading with a book by Sarah Rose Cavanagh, “The Spark of Learning.” Check out this sentence from her preface: I am going to argue that if you want to grab the attention of your students, mobilize their efforts, prolong their persistence, permanently change how they see the world, and maximize the chances that they will retain the material you’re teaching them over the long term, there is no better approach than to target their emotions.”

I can’t wait to start reading and have even set aside a little time at work each day to begin learning, among other things, how to change how I ask questions in the classroom and tell students about my own failures as a student!

Want to know what the other books on our list of recommendations are? Check off how many you’ve read, and if they aren’t in your institution’s library, check with your college’s faculty development specialist – maybe they have a copy in their library!

5 Star Consortium Recommended Reading






 












Reynolds, Garr. Presentation Zen



Monday, July 2, 2018

Faculty Developers

What do your 5-Star Consortium faculty professional development leaders do?

submitted by Peg Balachowski, Associate Dean of Teaching & Learning at EvCC


L to R front row: Scott Haddock and Kristina Jipson (EdCC),
Peg Balachowski (EvCC), Rhonda DeWitt (Lake Washington Tech),
and Elisabeth Frederickson (EdCC)
L to R back row: Jeff Stevens (Cascadia),
and Brigid Nulty (Shoreline)
For the past two years, members of the 5-Star Consortium faculty development leaders have presented a best practices in teaching and learning orientation for new associate faculty at each of the 5 colleges (Everett CC, Edmonds CC, Shoreline CC, Cascadia College and Lake Washington Tech). The orientation has changed and (in our opinion) improved over that time, thanks primarily to input from participants. We conduct formative assessments throughout the session, and conclude with a feedback form called PLUS/DELTA. Using the information from participants, we have made improvements such as including more activities that allow participants to move around rather than just being lectured to.


Earlier this summer, the faculty developers from the 5 colleges met to talk about the future of the orientation. Our big goal includes cultivating a sense of belonging to a teaching and learning community by providing a place to connect to fellow associate faculty (adjuncts), across schools, within schools, and within disciplines. We also want to make sure that the new faculty connect with the faculty developer professional on their campus. Add to that a tool box of classroom activities that will aid new faculty in organizing active learning pedagogies and making important connections with students. We believe that faculty who employ these techniques will not only build critical relationships with students but will also begin reducing equity gaps that exist in many classrooms today.

During the orientation we want to make sure that we model transparency, being explicit about the choices we have made for the orientation. Our research indicates that the topics we have chosen are important to faculty and students across not only the state but the country, in both CTCs and universities. And participants have told us that they appreciate the comfortable and safe space that we provide during the orientation as well as a set of tools that can be employed the first or next day of class.

During out meeting we also revised our orientation outcomes. We also discussed a series of Saturday workshops that will be hosted by different 5-Star colleges throughout 2018-19. Watch this blog for more information on those workshops as well as those hosted by individual colleges!

5-Star Orientation Outcomes:

By the end of the Orientation we want our participants to be able to:
  1. Be reflective metacognitive professionals (with a growth mindset) so that they can model and nurture it with their students. 
  2. Understand the demographics of CTC students via data, including the differences between prof/tech and transfer students, and equity gaps with regard to persistence and success.
  3. Make authentic connections with their students because this is supported by research as a way to mitigate equity gaps.
  4. Implement evidence-based, equity-minded, contemporary teaching strategies in their course to maximize student learning.
  5. Use formative assessment to improve their teaching and student learning using student feedback.
  6. Have an HR introduction, including topics such as ethics, Title IX, FERPA, and how to deal with student conduct issues.


Monday, June 25, 2018

The Meaning of Fulfillment

submitted by Peg Balachowski, Associate Dean of Teaching & Learning at EvCC

On Sunday, October 26, the New York Times published an opinion piece by Emily Fox Gordon titled “The Meaning of Fulfillment.” Gordon begins, “At 66, I find myself feeling fulfilled. I didn’t expect this, and don’t quite know what to make of it. It’s as if I’ve been given an outlandishly oversize gift.” She speaks about an almost forgotten fantasy – being the “hostess of an intellectual salon.” Guess what –in my role as the Associate Dean of Teaching and Learning at Everett Community College, that’s really my job! The hostess of an intellectual salon.
Pictured: Peg hosting new faculty in the Center for
Transformative Teaching, Fall 2017

I feel like I am working with some of the best faculty that our profession has to offer.
Together with the other 5-Star Consortium partners, we have identified a common need to rework, revise, and/or revitalize our work with faculty, both new and veteran. Here are some questions that we have thought about (and truly struggle to answer):

1. In what ways can we incentivize professional development for all faculty?
2. What are sustainable faculty development best practices?
3. How do you institutionalize professional development practices and policies?

I so appreciate the opportunity to work together with my colleagues to strategize and support each other as we take a critical look at how we can address these big questions. Huber and Hutchings coined the term “the big tent” in 2005 when writing about the scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL).  Right now we only have a small tent – maybe it’s a pup tent – but I think we can all fit.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Closing the Loop

How can you tell if your students are really getting it? That’s the question at the heart of this strategy. So often the class time flies by and suddenly it’s over! We don’t get a chance (or make the time) to ask students to reflect on what they learned or what happened in class before they leave. Watch this video and learn how one instructor, Sarrah Saaasa, an Economics teacher, has helped students to develop a metacognitive reflection practice and give her feedback that will help “students cement their learning and informs future instruction.” I especially like her question, “How were we as a class today?”
Sarrah takes seven minutes at the end of class to use this strategy. How would this work in your classroom? Do you think it should be done every day? Note that the students are giving verbal feedback. I usually suggest that formative assessment feedback be done anonymously. Clearly, she has created a classroom culture where students feel free to contribute. Are you willing to give it a try in your next class? Send us feedback on how it worked or what you changed.