5 Star Consortium Colleges

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Bandwidth and Burnout

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

Back in April, I wrote a post about faculty burnout. Since then, I have used the image below to talk about bandwidth and capacity. It’s spring quarter. We’re tired. We’re crabby. When the sun is out and we’re still at our desks grading and planning, mostly what we are thinking about is far different from the tasks at hand. In an article in Contemporary Issues In Education Research, the author cites some definitions of burnout:

  • Burnout is when a person has pushed his/her creative energy beyond the point of discovery.
  • Burnout is experiencing continuous job-related stress where one has the loss of physical, emotional and mental energy.
  • Burnout is the lack of desire and motivation to achieve a balance among professorial responsibilities in the areas of: teaching, scholarship, service, and student care-giving and peer relationships.
  • Burnout is when one experiences detachment (especially from students, staff, peers and clients) and a loss of satisfaction or sense of accomplishment.
Do you see yourself in any of these definitions? Is there a solution? Check out these solutions from The Chronicle of Higher Education:
  • Take time off, if only for an evening.
  • Remember that your job is a job — even if you love it. You are more than your job.
  • Find ways to say no.
  • Choose sleep over extra class-prep time. 
  • Finally, don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Sounds really easy, right? I especially like “Find ways to say no.” We have to be very careful about who we say no to (students? Your Dean? A colleague?) and how often! Great advice, but very hard to implement.

We’d love to hear your approach to dealing with (and avoiding) burning.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

After Conference Thoughts

submitted by Brigid Nulty - the Associate Dean of Teaching, Learning and Assessment at Shoreline Community College

It’s Friday afternoon and I’m back at my college, working, after two full days at the ATL Conference in Vancouver, Wa. It was my first time and I loved it for a bunch of reasons: chief among them the opportunity to hang out with with my Pro-D colleagues (go 5-Star!) and meet some amazing teacher-leaders from across the state.

There were many great learning moments, but here were two that really had an impact on me.
1.    Debra Jenkins’ metaphor of the “bridge” as a place we meet others to discuss and engage in conflict. She made the point that change is hard, equity is hard, and that conflict is an opportunity for both personal, professional, and institutional growth. We need to embrace it, and stay “on the bridge”. Not ignore or deny the ravine, not drive others to jump off, not jump off ourselves…

2.    I loved Bevyn Rowland’s pre-conference training! The takeaway? Making time to do healthy self-care is important, and should not be apologized for. We should be supporting it, championing it, for ourselves and for our colleagues. Why? High stress and exhaustion increase implicit bias and negativity bias. Both of these biases harm others. The ethical thing to do is to learn how to take care of ourselves so that we are more resilient and adaptable in the face of [inevitable] stress. Oh and by the way: healthy, long-lasting self-care practices are difficult! I loved this quote that was posted:
“What [they] don’t often tell you is that self-care can be completely terrible. Self-care includes a lot of adult-ing, and activities you want to put off indefinitely. Self-care sometimes means making tough decisions which you fear others will judge. Self-care involves asking for help; it involves vulnerability; it involves being painfully honest with yourself and your loved ones about what you need.” – Mawiyah Patten, on the website, The Mighty

Did you go to ATL? Have you been to some other conference recently? What made an impression on you?

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Featured Job posting - Highline College

Interested in doing some great things at Highline College? At the Learning and Teaching Center, Highline is hiring a Program Manager!

The Learning and Teaching Center (LTC) Program Manager provides leadership, coordination, direction, and vision for faculty professional development.  The Manager directly reports to the Dean of Instructional Resources, while closely collaborating with the Vice President for Academic Affairs, Instructional Deans, Instructional Design staff, and faculty in strategic planning for the Center.

This position requires the ability to plan and facilitate holistic faculty professional development with regard to teaching, learning, cultural responsiveness, assessment, and advising.  The Director coordinates the activities of LTC affiliate faculty in providing peer-based training, is part of Instruction Cabinet, and serves on the Opening Week and Professional Development Day annual planning committee.

This position requires:

  • Master's Degree in Education, Community College Development, Educational Leadership, Curriculum Design, Professional Development, or related field; AND
  • Higher education teaching experience  
For more information and to apply online, visit: https://www.governmentjobs.com/careers/highline/jobs/1939916/learning-and-teaching-center-program-manager

Monday, April 23, 2018

Exams – are they really learning opportunities?

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

“Some faculty members lament that exams can be missed opportunities to cultivate learning because worries about grades consume students' attention. What if there were a better way?”

In a recent post in the Teaching and Learning newsletter (courtesy of The Chronicle for Higher Education) the authors described a two-stage exam:

“Here’s how it works: Students take an exam individually... After they submit their answers, they split into groups of three to five students and go over the test together to hash out the answers.” Hmmm… you might be wondering if students who know this is the exam protocol would neglect to prepare for the exam. I wondered that too. The faculty who used this technique decided to test whether students had really learned anything from the group session and gave a surprise quiz just a few days later on the same material. Note that this was an INDIVIDUAL quiz. To their delight, “students who tested collaboratively learned the correct answers to more than one-third of the questions they had initially answered incorrectly on the tests they had taken individually. And, when students were tested three days later, the knowledge largely stuck.”

Is that enough of a boost in learning to convince you to try this technique? Let us know if you do and how your students did!

By the way, you can sign up to receive the Teaching and Learning Newsletter from the Chronicle by going to this site.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Avoiding Burnout

submitted by Peg Balachowski, Associate Dean of Teaching and Learning at Everett Community College

I know it’s only week 2 of the quarter at our college, but somehow Spring Quarter is when most faculty seem to get that “burned out” feeling. In the Pacific Northwest, the spring can be wet, dark, and kind of gloomy, perhaps contributing to that feeling. There are other contributing factors as well, including the increased workload that comes with campus initiatives, new projects that we’re adding to a class, the increased number of young students in our classes who may feel a certain entitlement and who, as I recently heard from an administrator, demand our immediate attention both in the classroom AND online. Nothing like being on-call 24 hours a day!woman head down on crumpled papers next to notebooks and pens

One of my favorite educational bloggers, David Gooblar (writing in the Chronicle of Higher Education), writes: “ a 2014 study of depression, stress, and anxiety among non-tenure-track faculty in the United States discovered something strange: Among the faculty surveyed — in both part-time and full-time positions — the more committed they were to their institutions, the more likely they were to experience high levels of workplace stress, and to experience depression, anxiety, and stress more generally.”

Not great news, especially as faculty at most colleges are always being asked to do more.  Are there ways to avoid burnout (or to deal with it if you are feeling it already)? Gooblar offers 4 tips:

  1. Take time off, if only for an evening.
  2. Remember that your job is a job — even if you love it. 
  3. Find ways to say no.
  4. Choose sleep over extra class-prep time. 

You may read these tips and think, “I’ve got grading! I have committee meetings! I have to prep for tomorrow’s class!” Yes, all that’s true, and we are not recommending that you abandon all those responsibilities in favor of extra sleep or taking EVERY evening off. Remember that your college has resources, and Gooblar reminds us, “don’t be afraid to ask for help. You’ve got friends, family, and colleagues who can help. If you’re feeling stressed and emotionally exhausted, it’s for good reason — most likely you care about your job and believe in the importance of doing it well. But there’s no benefit to running yourself into the ground. Let people around you know when you’re feeling low, and offer words of understanding and support when you see colleagues struggling to balance it all. If you worry that you’re burning out, you can safely assume that others around you are, too. Share your burden and it will start to feel lighter.”

I encourage you to take several minutes to read the entire article in the Chronicle. Choose one of the 4 tips recommended by Gooblar and see how it works.  Be sure to close your eyes and breathe; move away from your desk (and that pile of papers to grade) for a few minutes; as the weather improves start taking a 10-minute walk across your campus at least once a day. And encourage your students to do the same. It’s likely they are feeling some burnout as well.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Saturday Series Spring Workshop

Sally Heilstedt, Dean of Instruction at Lake Washington Institute of Technology will be presenting a workshop on Saturday, April 28, 2018:

Ensuring Equitable Learning with the Transparency Framework

The Transparency Framework is a simple tweak you can make to your existing assignments that will increase clarity, as well as students’ sense of belonging, confidence, and persistence. All of that with one teaching tool!

Saturday, April 28, 2018
9:00 AM - 11:00 AM

Lake Washington Institute of Technology -- West Bldg, W401

Coffee, tea and light snacks provided

Interested? RSVP online.

Monday, April 2, 2018

3rd Annual Mentoring Conference at EvCC

The 3rd Annual Mentoring Conference is scheduled for Friday, April 6, 2018. The theme is "Relationship Building."

It's not too late to register

The EvCC Mentoring Conference is a full day of speakers and workshops focused on sharing best practices, bright ideas and both individual and institutional experiences with mentoring. This is a rare opportunity to build networks and share ideas with colleagues involved in mentoring across our region.

For more information, email mentoring@everettcc.edu