Faculty Development at CI: or, what’s with all those acronyms?

FIT, T&LI, ISLAS, ALAS, OLAS … oh my!

Where’s a faculty member to go for support? The alphabet soup on our campus can be overwhelming. As the new Interim (part-time) Faculty Development Coordinator this year, I am working with others to create a more cohesive sense of what’s available to faculty and to begin to fill some gaps in our faculty support offerings.

Here’s the lowdown on all the acronyms and a little background on what they each offer:

T&LI:    Teaching & Learning Innovations

Born out of initiatives to support blended and online courses and the pressure to make better use of technology in teaching, our campus has one of the most creative and best designed set of offerings. If you have sought help with Blackboard (CI Learn) or pretty much anything to do with teaching and learning, you have probably already enjoyed the generous support of our T&L Innovations team. An increasing number of faculty are dipping their toes into technological innovations that expand the range of their classroom, if not jumping in with both feet and offering fully online classes. T&L Innovations also coordinates our openCI efforts for affordable textbooks and our campus Course Redesign with Technology initiatives. As a proud member of the first cohort in the blended learning offerings, I am continually playing with new technologies in my classrooms and testing their limits. It’s our fabulous T&LI team that brings you this blog and supports your innovative ideas.

FIT Studio: Faculty Innovations in Teaching Studio

The FIT Studio is an outgrowth of T&LI. As the website notes the space is: “for faculty to design, create, discuss and innovate.” With recording booths, a live action studio, video editing stations, a living room with a large screen TV opportunities abound. And they have coffee! It’s a very comfortable space for faculty to come together to discuss not only teaching, but for mentoring, workshops. Most recently has become home to the Faculty Writing Connection. (Contact me if you want to be added to the weekly reminder email.)

The next three are all Hispanic-Serving Institution grants (each forming Spanish words for natural features: islands, wings, and waves) that support the development of high-impact teaching practices and regional student success.

Project ISLAS:  Institutionalizing Student Learning and Success (Oct. 2010-2015)

While this grant has completed, the faculty development portion remains ongoing in the form of faculty-led workshops on topics like writing across the curriculum, active learning strategies, and information literacy and are now sponsored by T&LI and/or Project ALAS. If you have ideas for offering a workshop or know of a workshop topic that you would like to see offered, be sure to let me know and we will see about setting it up. Check the archive for ideas!

Project ALAS: Aligning Learning and Academic Success (Oct 2014-2019)

This grant supports faculty in developing cross-institutional high-impact practices through year-long faculty fellowships that produce projects that are then shared across institutions. We are also developing an interactive cross-institutional online site for faculty innovations. Some of the projects in progress with the support of this grant include a second annual regional writing conference and a new regional math institute as well as initiatives to align degree programs more interactively with each other. In addition, the grant supports regional workshops on high-impact teaching practices. For example, be looking out next spring for a Reading Apprenticeship workshop that helps faculty to more effectively help students to be better readers in their fields. Look for the cfp a campus-based opportunity for the spring as well as the cfp for regional applications for next year in late spring.

Project OLAS: Optimizing Learning, Achievement, and Success (Oct 2016-2020)

Among other things, this grant supports the Critical Learning Collective (CLC) Faculty Fellows Program: A New Project OLAS Initiative, which is a one-year program in which participants (up to 9 per cohort) learn to use Critical Friends Group protocols and High Impact Practices for deepening their teaching skills and promoting active learning in the classroom. See the call for applications attached to this blog or contact Kaia Tollefson for more information.

In addition to these grant-funded and institutionalized programs, we have a formal Mentorship Program directed this year by Christy Teranishi Martinez and José Alamillo. Junior faculty and lecturers can sign on to have a senior faculty mentor with a two-year commitment to meet once a month for at least an hour during which mentors:

  • Give guidance and feedback to mentees on their professional development plan (PDP or equivalent career plan for lecturers) to initiate conversations and structured guidance.
  • Provide support and consistent feedback on research, teaching, service, promotion and advancement, and navigating the CI culture;
  • Respond to bi-semester contact via e-mail with program facilitators.

All mentors and mentees come together several times over that period to discuss their progress and celebrate successes.

In my current capacity as Faculty Development Coordinator, I am available to help faculty who may not be able to participate in such an extended program, but who may need guidance and be unsure of where else to turn.

But what about support for scholarship and creative activities? We continue to work on developing ways to support faculty scholarship and creative endeavors. The weekly Faculty Writing Connection is one way we support each other. (Click to be added to the weekly reminder email.) The Faculty Writing Retreat is another and will take place Tuesday, May 30 to Thursday, June 1 2017. Calls for proposals for the retreat will be coming out in January. The faculty mini-grant CFP will be coming out soon.

Demands on faculty seem to come from every direction: students, colleagues, administrators, community members, professional organizations, as well as local, state, and national legislators. Excellence is a core value. Pressure for continual improvement is built into a profession whose primary task is to ask and then seek to answer good questions that help us all better understand ourselves and the world around us. To top it all off, whether it is planning for class or getting an article written, we often work alone and are often our own harshest critics. As junior faculty or lecturers it can seem as if there is no way to know what will get us to the next level, just as many of our students feel they must divine what each faculty member “really” requires. And for mid-career faculty the push to that next level can seem like a different kind of climb with no clear path.

I am here to help us work together to build the networks that support faculty and student success. I look forward to your participation and suggestions. Please make your suggestions here.

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