Friday, February 23, 2018

Dealing with the Dip

submitted by Elisabeth Fredrickson, Associate Dean for Instruction at Edmonds Community College

When I was teaching, a colleague and I had a longstanding tradition of checking in with each other during the seventh week. This was our time to commiserate over what we called The Seventh Week Blues--that feeling of frustration that students just weren't getting it, coupled with the sudden impulse to redo everything for next quarter.

It helped to talk about it. The feeling would pass, and reason would prevail. I learned to make small adjustments quarter to quarter and save the major overhauls for summer.

I didn't realize what a common feeling this was among teachers until I read Bonni Stachowiak's blog post, The Dip. She compares the rhythm of the school term to Tuckman and Jensen's stages of team development: forming, storming, norming, performing, and adjourning.

Then, she notes that teaching seems to involve a little extra storming (stress and frustration) just before the adjournment phase--both for students and for teachers. For some students, this is the point where the choices they have made throughout the quarter, or the setbacks they have experienced, have finally caught up with them, leaving them (and perhaps you) feeling discouraged.

If you don't experience The Dip (aka, The Seventh Week Blues) then lucky you! But if you do, it may help to know that it's normal.

If you want more than just reassurance, Stachowiak offers some concrete strategies for keeping your spirits up during The Dip. She provides tips on keeping an "encouragement folder," communicating proactively with students who are trying to renegotiate their grades, and injecting a little humor (used appropriately) to lighten the mood.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Introducing Brigid Nulty

Brigid Nulty is the Associate Dean of Teaching, Learning and Assessment at Shoreline Community College

What do you like most about your job?
It’s early days, and not only am I new to this role but the role is new to the campus. I’m excited for the work, and faculty really seem excited to have me here. I have often said that I care deeply about student learning, and express that by caring about and investing in teacher learning – I want to help teachers help students. It’s a treat to finally have that be my full-time professional work.


What are three career lessons you’ve learned thus far?

1)    Meet people where they are, and capitalize on what they care about
2)    Admit and accept imperfections and constraints, but don’t be defined or hobbled by them
3)    Strive for excellence, but don’t let the pursuit get in the way of actually getting something done
4)    (Bonus) Assume Best Intent in others

What are your hobbies and interests outside of work?
I am a dog-person. I just joined a board for a community center. I volunteer with a couple of organizations. I’m a career recreational soccer player (30+ years of being a hack). I spend a lot of time with other people’s kiddos.

Are you messy or organized?
I try to be organized, but entropy often wins the day.

Do you have a favorite newspaper, blog?
So many! Some blogs relevant to this group: Prof Hacker, MindShift, Faculty Focus, Agile Learning (Derek Bruff), Computing Education (Mark Guzdial). I also skim the Chronicle when I can, and Change Magazine, as well as Inside Higher Ed.

If you could witness any historical event, what would you want to see?

Maybe to have been in the front row of Barack Obama’s (first) inauguration.

What’s the one thing you can’t live without?

My dog!

Best childhood memory?
Growing up in an incredibly diverse hometown with a famous folk festival and Fourth of July parade.

If your house was burning down, what’s the one non-living thing you would save?

Ack, this question causes me anxiety!

Top 3 life highlights? (I have two)
The good fortune to have had many trips abroad

Having a community of loving friends and family who inspire me

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Retreat…or Advance?

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

I just returned from the Winter Assessment, Teaching and Learning (ATL) retreat held every quarter at the Rainbow Lodge in North Bend, WA. The Lodge is in the shadow of Mount Si near North Bend, and on Thursday afternoon as we were working in our small groups we looked out onto the grassy area behind the Lodge and saw 2 elk grazing. It’s a wonderful place for our state-wide group of faculty professional development folks to grab a little time for our own professional development and talk about teaching and learning at our different colleges.

The dictionary defines retreat (v.) as the act of withdrawing, as into safety or privacy, and (n.) a place of refuge, seclusion, or privacy. Certainly our time together at the Lodge includes time for both of these. We retreat from our computers, the fast paced every day duties, the traffic, and find a place where we can have real conversations with our colleagues.

Maybe we should call this an “Advance,” defined as (v) to move forward, to improve, to promote, or (n) to increase in value, to improve or make progress, to grow in importance. Our discussions provided an opportunity for us to advance our understanding of what happens in the professional development and teaching and learning centers on the various campuses, and among the workgroups we discussed outcomes assessment, new faculty orientations, and faculty competencies. We also wondered if we should pursue becoming a Council within the SBCTC system. Together we were able to do some sense making of the issues that face our complex system of 34 community and technical colleges, each with a different culture, and potentially resolve some of those differences to ensure both faculty and student success.

Want to know more about ATL retreats? Check out the SBCTC website and learn how you can be involved!