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Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Teaching the Top 100%

The 5 Star Consortium Colleges are thrilled to celebrate our 100th blog post today! Thank you to our readers and contributors!

Please enjoy this timely blog post titled: "Teaching the Top 100%"

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

In a recent TIHE podcast, Sarah Rose Cavanagh reframed the contrast between selective universities and open-access community colleges. Community colleges are selective too, she says. “They select the top 100%.”

In other words, we say to students, “We select all of you. We believe you can learn and succeed.”

Inclusive teaching can mean a lot of things, but generally, it describes practices that support meaningful and accessible learning for all students, taking into account their diverse needs, abilities, backgrounds, and experiences.

How might that play out in the classroom? Here are a few examples:

UNC Chapel Hill professor Kelly Hogan added structure to her Biology 101 class. She started teaching her students how to learn (what to do before, during, and after class). Her explicit instructions and mandatory practice sessions helped all of her students, but it especially benefited first-generation, black, and Latino/a students.

Marsha Penner facilitates classroom discussions using small groups and shuffled response cards for anonymity. That way, even introverted students and students with social anxiety are encouraged to participate.

Kelly Zamudio’s introduction of active learning strategies in her evolutionary biology class boosted self-confidence and sense of social belonging among all of her students, and it also boosted achievement among underrepresented minority students.

Some great examples of inclusive teaching that I’ve seen on my own campus include kinesthetic mock quizzes, peer teaching sessions, community-building icebreakers, low-cost textbooks, and classroom norms that promote active and non-judgmental listening.

What do you do in your classroom to provide support, equitable access, and meaningful learning for all of your students? How do you address the needs of specific populations of students in your classes, and how do you leverage their strengths?

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?