Believe it or not, the end of the semester is the ideal time to think about course design and re-design. You are in a position to take advantage of your recent teaching experience, feedback from students and new ideas that have emerged during the past months.
One of the goals for your work on course development might be to include more Quantitative Reasoning and Critical Thinking activities. The development of these skills helps students to be strong consumers of information, do better in coursework (now and in the future) and be prepared to meet workplace demands. If you are unsure where to start, consider attending the AMCOA Region 1 Faculty Workshop right here at GCC on June 5th. Stipends are available and lunch will be provided. Register here.
At this workshop you will learn the fundamentals of creating assignments that grow reasoning and thinking skills in your discipline and across disciplines. Just as important, you will be able to assess these skills and your students’ progress toward learning goals.
If you cannot attend the workshop, you might use the resources provided by the Carnegie Mellon Eberly Center for teaching to examine effective teaching approaches. There are ideas about how to craft learning objectives and assignments that will help students achieve these objectives.
For more on Critical Thinking in the Classroom, review resources on the T & L site.
For more on Quantitative Reasoning, visit the Brown University Center for Teaching.
It has been a long winter—the cold and dark days affect motivation and commitment to academics. This is true for students and if we are honest, it is true for faculty and staff. At midpoint of the spring semester, there is a certain level of fatigue that needs to be addressed.
First, let’s tackle students:
For a theoretical orientation to motivation and science of motivating learners, look here.
Although this link is to the Geoscience Department at Carlton College, the information here about motivating students is applicable to any department and any population of students. Take a look at how faculty behaviors can directly impact student motivation. You make a huge difference in your classroom!
Not to be outdone, Vanderbilt University examines the types of motivation students possess and how we can tap into these in ways that encourage success and GRIT when the going gets tough.
Now, let’s address the needs of faculty and staff. If you feel like your “get-up-and go” got up and went, then this link is for you:
Like researchers, many of us who work with students often hypothesize about what it takes for students to be successful in college. Why and how do some students overcome adversity when others collapse under the weight of these challenges? And, perhaps more importantly, what can we do to foster the skills and resilience that college requires? Angela Lee Duckworth says it comes down to grit. Images of John Wayne may come to mind with good reason—true grit may be rare, but it is out there for us to discover and develop.
Ted Talk: Angela Lee Duckworth with a introduction to grit and what it means.
She has also written an excellent journal article on grit and the ability to reach long term goals.
Her work is so potentially important in education and our approach to student struggle that the Chronicle of Higher Education has focused on her work.
In Feb 2013, the Department of Education released a draft report on Promoting Grit, Tenacity and Perseverance Critical Factors for Success in the 21st Century.
This report includes interesting strategies to foster a sense of stick-to-it-ness in our students and why it is deemed to be so important for creating students who have the ability to reach long term goals.
Explore ideas for your classroom here.
With all the talented teachers and staff at GCC, we know there is wealth of information and best practices to share. From policies to assignments, building rapport and creating classroom communities…we want to hear about what works and how you make your class and interactions with students stronger. Please share your expertise!
Every tip, trick or idea you share will be an entry into the T & L site raffle for the month of March. We will be giving away practical and much sought after prizes like vouchers for the café and gift cards for the bookstore every week. Don’t miss out!
Use the form provided at the T & L site or at this link http://www.gcc.mass.edu/professional-development/faculty-staff-best-practices/ . Keep your entry to 150 words or less. We’ll post the entries on the site according to category along with your name and department—you’ll be famous before you know it!
There are other ways besides our contest to share your expertise. Consider presenting at a conference. Last month’s T & L post dealt with how to write a conference proposal and tips for getting it accepted (you can access this post from the left hand menu or using the search tool at the site). Attending a conference and bringing back new ideas and fresh perspectives to share with your colleagues and our students is valuable to the GCC community. Plus, there is professional development money available to help cover costs–just contact Judi Greene-Corvee for more information.
Faculty and staff sometimes do not realize that what they do in their classrooms, advising sessions and programming is unique and worth sharing on a larger stage. Think about how you have developed your craft—it is likely that many of the skills and strategies you employ have been workshop topics at conferences. Presenting and conducting a workshop is an opportunity for you to share your ideas and help others learn new techniques and perspectives on education.
All conferences have a general theme but often accept workshop and presentation topics that are tangentially related. This opens the door for you to present on a variety of topics, but keep in mind that linking your topic to the theme in a concrete way may increase the likelihood of proposal acceptance. Look at previous conferences to see if the topic has been covered in recent years—reviewers often want to see new and innovative ideas.
If you are new to conferences, start here with a basic introduction to writing your proposal.Submitting a conference proposal from Julie Shaw.
Once you have a topic in mind, the conference proposal writing is the next step.
There are many formats for conference sessions—workshops, formal presentations, teaching tips, posters. The length and type of information required in your proposal can vary, too. Each conference proposal process is unique, so read the guidelines carefully. Make sure you are providing the information requested and have included all the relevant details that will make your proposal a success.
Consider teaming up with a colleague for your proposal and potential presentation. Sharing the workload and doubling the ideas can be a smart approach especially if you are new to conferences. Even if you go it alone, have a second reader for clarity, understanding and proof reading.
Three upcoming conferences to consider:
Check with Judi Greene-Corvee to see if professional development money is available to help cover conference costs which can include registration, materials and travel.
In the first few weeks of the semester, we are often preoccupied learning student names, creating course materials and getting back into the swing of a busy teaching schedule. This is also a time to be on the lookout for students who might struggle in your course.
Some of the early signs are:
- Falling asleep
- Arriving late or not at all
- Making rude or mean remarks toward you or a classmate
- Not completing work
- —and the list goes on
The temptation to ignore some of these behaviors is strong, but there are plenty of reasons to get involved… and to do it sooner rather than later. An intervention does not need to be a full-on confrontation, but merely making the student aware that his or her behavior is affecting others. Sometimes students do not understand the social norms of a college classroom or perhaps they need to have rules and expectations clarified.
If you are facing challenges, remember that you are not alone and that there are resources to help. Lisa Rodriguez, Ph.D. offers tips for dealing with and preventing many common classroom/student issues
Click here for an 8-step plan for dealing with disruptive students.
Perhaps somewhat more rare, but sadly increasingly common, is to have an emotionally troubled student in class. These tips help you to recognize these students and take appropriate action.
Dealing with disruptive students can be frustrating and can sometimes leave you feeling drained. Keep in mind that this is not an issue reserved for new faculty, at some point all faculty experience these challenges. Seek the support of your colleagues, department chair and experienced faculty.
What an electrifying time of year— a new year and the start of a new semester! The next two weeks are sure to be filled with excitement and questions. Don’t worry! There are many resources to help you be successful in the classroom, with your advisees and colleagues.
Maybe you are teaching a new course or contemplating changes to an existing class. To design your course and overcome common teaching challenges look to Honolulu Community College for articles and useful tips. From first day success to course design, they have it all. For those teaching a new course, the Step by Step: Planning a College Course can help take your course from concept to a fully-designed course efficiently. Allow yourself plenty of time at each steps to consider what you want students to learning and how to achieve those learning goals in ways that are stimulating and engaging.
You might be wondering how to be better organized and more efficient. Part of teaching is materials management…what to do with all the papers and course materials?! Saving materials from one semester to the next can plunge our offices into chaos. Get a handle on all the detritus of teaching without stress using these helpful tips from the Chronicle of Higher Education. Saving paper and materials is only part of the task…saving time and being efficient is also key.
Perhaps you are considering how to communicate better with your advisees and help them be more successful in their courses. The advisor-advisee relationship is often strengthened through clear communication and enhanced listening skills. Monmouth Community College offers some simple, yet effective tools to help you grow your academic relationships and be a better advisor. Understanding our role as an advisor can help us to make the most of each interaction with students and be their advocate, mentor, motivating force and cheerleader.
When you fly on an airplane, the flight attendant instructs you to put your oxygen mask on first, before helping others. This an important rule for ensuring survival, if you run out of oxygen, you can’t help anyone else with their oxygen mask. The airlines have a point–we need to take care of yourselves as a step in being able to help others.
This rule is true in most facets of life, especially when we work with students. Think about the skills you use every day with students and co-workers…patience, problem-solving, communication, the list goes on and on. When we are tired and run-down, we are less likely to communicate clearly, use our innate sense of humor or telegraph enthusiasm for our work.
Working with students is often an endurance event with high potential for burnout. We need to be in great shape physically, emotionally and intellectually to do our best work. The end of the semester is the ideal time to take stock and recharge. Distance yourself from distressing events, forgive the unmet challenges, observe the lessons learned and most of all, plan for the future. Create a plan for self-care that can move us successfully through the semester and beyond.
Avoiding burnout should be a long term goal. The steps you take today make a difference tomorrow, especially When Teaching Grows Tired—a Wake-up Call for Faculty.
Consider these 10 Steps for Avoiding Teacher Burnout, they can help you regain your teaching passion and capture that enthusiasm that brought you to the classroom in the first place. Creating a long re-charging to-do list is not the point. Look at self-care resources for teachers and be mindful of how each of these suggestions might improve your health, well-being and ability to do your work. Treat these suggestions as a buffet, take what appeals and leave the rest
Mary McKinney, PhD argues that part of being a successful academic is taking steps to avoid burnout. Her website offers ideas about self-care, stress management and balancing the demands of work and a well-lived life.
At the end of the semester we are often preoccupied with crossing the finish line and getting grades submitted. We may overlook opportunities to wrap up the semester in a meaningful way for both our students and ourselves. Faculty struggle over what has been left out and how to make sense of all the ground that has been covered from day one until now. By providing course closure and acknowledging student learning, we can promote a sense of achievement and recognize next steps in the learning process.
The last day of class is a time to praise students, examine teaching effectiveness and plan for the future–everyone deserves and needs a pat on the back!