Faculty Development Week–Bane or Joy? You Decide!

As you may already know, on Tuesday, May 4th, our CAST coordinator, Chris Sabino, received notice from the district that three days later, May 7th, a District Wide Faculty Development Week (DWFDW) Task Force would be meeting at Malcolm X to discuss plans for fall faculty development programs. Given that Chris and numerous CAST members had already done significant work in planning HW’s annual Faculty Development Week program, the news was both surprising and a little disconcerting. Three CAST contributors–Myra Cox, Ephrem Rabin, and Jeff Swigart–were able to attend the DWFDW Task Force meeting, and Jeff agreed to share his notes from the meeting with the faculty.

The faculty in attendance received this proposal (which I will allow to speak for itself–however with strong encouragement that you read it; it is full of (perhaps unintentional) delights, and I mean that both literally and ironically). There will certainly be more posts on this topic in the weeks to come, but it is urgent that we, Faculty Council, get some feedback on this topic if we are going to have any chance to influence anything about it, and I will limit my editorializing here in this post to saying that we believe (I’m pretty sure that I can speak for the whole council on this) that faculty should have the primary influence on Faculty Development activities, whether they are local or district wide. Please take a look at the proposal and Jeff’s notes from the meeting and post your initial responses in the comments. Also, please be sure to vote and encourage your colleagues to do the same. Arguments are easier to make with numbers. Special thanks to Myra, Ephrem, and Jeff for their attendance and reporting of these developments.

District-Wide Faculty Development Week Task Force
Meeting #1, 5/7/2010, Malcolm X College
Facilitated by President Ghingo Brooks and Vice Chancellor Angela Henderson.
HWC Representatives in Attendance:  Myra Cox, Ephrem Rabin, Jeffrey Swigart
Jeffrey Swigart’s Notes of the Meeting

FDW Task Force – Proposal Handout

Pres. Brooks shared that he proposed idea of district-wide FDW earlier this year.  VC Henderson shared that this fits with Chancellor Hyman’s vision of better connecting the city colleges.  The implementation date was originally planned for August 2011, but Chancellor Hyman likes the idea so much she would like it implemented this coming August of 2010. The purpose of this meeting was to allow about 2 faculty members to represent each college as a task force.

The purpose of district-wide FDW is to share best practices and other ideas district-wide.  More details are on attached handout that was given out at meeting.  Here is the rough proposed schedule:
Monday:  District-Wide Convocation
Tuesday:  Universal Teaching Strategies
Wednesday:  Assessment
Thursday:  Best Practices in Academic Disciplines
Friday:  City Colleges of Chicago Showcase

*Discussion of Each College’s FDW Schedules:
Faculty from each college shared what they had planned so far for their individual FDW’s.  The goal was to try to incorporate the best ideas from each college into the district-wide schedule.  Some colleges were very far in their planning, even having already booked outside speakers for specific times, while other colleges just had rough ideas.  I shared the list provided to me by Chris Sabino of talks that CAST had planned so far, enough to fill 3 days.

*Discussion of Concerns:
Faculty shared two primary concerns regarding the proposal.  First, some expressed concern that their individual colleges’ FDW 2010 has already been planned so far that it would be better to implement the district-wide FDW in 2011.  Second, some expressed concern that much individual college business is taken care of during the individual
FDW’s.  VC Henderson replied that district-wide FDW is important to Chancellor Hyman’s vision and asked that everyone present get on board.  She also suggested that faculty find ways throughout the semester to take care of business that may have in the past been taken care of during individual FDW’s.

*Topic Ideas for District-Wide FDW:
President Brooks expressed that there seems to be much overlap in topics at colleges’ individual FDW’s, and so it will be beneficial to share resources and use these topics at the district-wide FDW.  He also shared that district-wide FDW could have time set aside for individual college business.  Many potential topics were discussed, including the following:  technology across the curriculum, reducing remediation, changes in foundational studies, data-driven decisions in the classroom, increasing graduation rates, academic advising, *PeopleSoft, educating future teachers, SLO’s, syllabus-writing, service learning, HLC and its upcoming changes, careers, academic freedom (potential well-known speaker from AAUP), panel discussions with faculty and/or students, purpose of education
(potential big name speaker such as Oprah or Maya Angelou).  Many faculty expressed that it is important to pick topics that are broad enough to apply to everyone, in order to make district-wide FDW helpful and significant to everyone.

*Specific Contributions by HWC Representatives:
Myra Cox shared detailed ideas of talks regarding educating future teachers and the many district-wide issues related to this.  Ephrem Rabin made many suggestions regarding topics related to technology, and Pres. Brooks specifically asked Ephrem to consider being a speaker.  I (Jeffrey Swigart) shared the idea John Hader gave me of having Dr. Pamela Proulx-Curry speak about service learning as part of a program that SENCER and CPS are willing to help fund.

The steering committee of the chancellor and the college presidents will meet discuss the suggestions of the task force.  Ephrem Rabin will set up a Blackboard site.  Follow up meetings of the task force will take place in June or July.

25 thoughts on “Faculty Development Week–Bane or Joy? You Decide!

  1. I will keep this brief because I am not totally sure that I am leaving it in the right place.

    On the whole, I believe time is probably our most prized asset, and it is in short supply, especially when the semester begins. Our technology has grown dramatically in the past three iterations of the contract, but our vision for using time and resources has not been able to keep up with it.

    The contract says that any time not spent on registration is spent doing facutly development, meetings, conferences, etc. Maybe after 2013 this entire two week period can be re-evaluated into something that more closely approximates what needs to happen during that time.

    That aside, faculty need time to do the very important business of being professional faculty and running their departments. Each campus is individually acredited and has their own set of issues to deal with, therefore the bulk of the time should be spent that way.

    We are part of a district, and that takes time too. We shouldn’t, however, dedicate more than 1 day to that time. After a convocation to get up to speed with district business, we should probably get together in our disciplines to hash out business on that scale.

    A unified district is a great long term goal. Its something that can be realized over a series of meeting and a series of semesters. We won’t be any more unified on Friday than we were on Monday. We’ll be behind on one weeks worth of work.

    • What I don’t like is the change-this-now-regardless-of-careful-plans-that-are-in-place, school of decision-making. It is frustrating and disrespectful.

      And I’m a faculty member who is generally supportive of consistency across the District in terms of academic offerings.

      Having worked on the District level Child Development program for years, I think there are advantages for our students to having consistency across the board since they have the ability to piece their program of study together amongst the various colleges. On the other hand, each college is unique and serves it’s own community and I would hate to lose that aspect of things.

      I agree with Mike about the Faculty Professional Development Week – it would make sense to have one day where we all come together and then perhaps do breakaway sessions that are discipline specific. The rest of the week should be spent at the home campus.

      *I think it will be important for us, as a faculty, not to panic!

      If we continually and respectfully voice our concerns and provide folks with specific steps we’d like taken, this will help. If we revolt or use highly charged language – nothing good will come of it…methinks.

      I could be wrong on that, but as an instructor and as a program coordinator, I know I am more likely to listen to complaints if they include a plan for change.

      Keep the comments rolling!

  2. “The Committee for the Art and Science of Teaching, an interdisciplinary committee of faculty members and professional staff, is commissioned to create and implement professional development programs which enhance and highlight the teaching, learning and technology proficiency of Harold Washington College’s faculty and professional staff.” CAST mission statement

    A district-wide mandated FDW would, at the very least, disrupt what we’ve already got in the works for this August. This is a colossal mistake on the part of district for the following reasons:

    1) It’s too short notice. Planning this type of event will take time and faculty. Summer is not the ideal time to mobilize faculty for this type of planning.

    2) Registration is really busy during that week. According to Robert Brown, the peak registration time has lately been the week before open registration. Having our entire faculty elsewhere during this time, including chairs to open additional sections of classes, is a dangerous idea. Even if FDW was mandated locally, at least we’d physically be here to deal with registration related issues.

    3) Faculty development should be driven by faculty. We all know this. Though there’s a faculty task force, it’s an arbitrary conglomeration of people from across the district who were able to attend a meeting this past Friday (this is by no means meant to disrespect our representatives to the meeting; they’re fantastic and I’m glad they could attend. This comment is meant to address the haphazard way in which faculty were assembled. There were at least 12 emails over the course of 4 days in which the time and day for the meeting were in question. Heavy disorganization on the front end (see the proposal for some unbelievable typos and language) does not bode well for the end result.

    As I said before, all of this has occurred in less than a week. It has been a whirlwind and, in all honesty, extremely frustrating. We need to ensure the integrity and usefulness of our FDW. We need to own this for our sake. FDW is meant to be a collaboration celebrating of our collective knowledge and skill in the art and science of teaching.

    One last point… let’s suppose that the district proposal does not go through. We would then need to make sure that this is our best FDW ever. The bottom line is that if we have a brilliant FDW with data to prove it (use their tools as our validation), then this proposal will hold less water with respect to HWC at least.

  3. All I know is that after wasting 30 hours of my life this past April in a poorly taught and haphazardly run Faculty Development Seminar, I would run as fast as I can from any district-wide initiatives for faculty development. Until there is evidence that the district has its act together regarding faculty development (where is the evidence that the district FDS program is having its intended effect?), I would skip a district wide FDW and use that time to work on my syllabi.

    I think the idea of sharing resources and developing programming of interest to all is a good one, but based on my prior experience, I am extremely skeptical about the district’s ability to implement this idea in a meaningful way. I’ve already made one magazine collage about active learning; unless I can bring my 4-year-old, I don’t need to make another one.

    • Interestingly, the topics for the days seem rather consistent with the topics proposed, begging the question: if the seminars were so effective, why is this necessary and if the seminars were ineffective why should we trust them to do better this time? (and, like the alchemist suggests, there really ought to be some data about their effectiveness or lack thereof to justify either our trust or the need–don’t hold your breath on that one)…

  4. Do I really have to spend a day with other people’s children for family day? There is a reason I do not have children of my own.

      • Well, it’s true. I have no desire to socialize with other work people and should not be required/obligated/mandated to do so. If I want to talk to people from work or other campuses or districts, I should be allowed to determine who that is, and I would choose those without children. If it is voluntary, I might actually consider it.

        • Speaking as a person with kids, I agree with you 100% that you should not be required to socialize with other people’s kids.
          And it made me laugh.

          Not socializing, just saying…

          • Very funny,

            I would not bring my teenager. Seriously, he’s a typical teen.

            Believe me. no offense taken on this one.

  5. Here’s the link to the running list of our HWC FDW thus far. There are actually a few others that aren’t on there. For instance, we’ll have a session about Office 2010 led by Ewa and Vincent from OIT. As you can see, we’ve got a lot of good stuff planned. A subset of this list was shared at the meeting last Friday. Apparently, V.C. Henderson went out of her way at graduation to tell John Hader that it looked great (this may be me dramatizing this a bit but that’s ok). Ephrem predicts a “brain drain” of our ideas for the proposed DWFDW. We’ll see what happens. Here’s the link

    • I suggest an HWCFDW session to discuss DWFDW. Make sure to invite faculty from across the district.
      I would suggest break-out sessions to discuss the following:
      Emailing three days before scheduling a meeting – pros and cons.
      Can you name all of the colleges in your district?
      Educational institution or corporate entity? Does it really matter?
      Plans? What do you mean you’ve already made plans? For tomorrow?
      Force the issue now, ask questions later.

      • In the style of district, should we plan this cross-campus meeting for tomorrow. 🙂
        In all seriousness, I like this idea. I’m not sure what FC4 has to say about the proposal. I’d be happy to set up a meeting, in the name of CAST, for next week or the week after for those faculty who don’t scatter.

  6. Isn’t The Lounge great?
    Talk about getting things done at the local level. If this site isn’t a darn good example of what can be accomplished by ONE campus, then stop reading now.

    I like that our new chancellor wants to make some immediate changes and create a sense of unity among our colleges.
    I do not like that it would disrupt, if not destroy, plans that have already been made among our colleges.

    I like that district is thinking BIG (per the proposal) by wanting to put the spotlight on CCC for the entire city to see.
    I do not like that we are equating our FDW with a corporate outing. Sorry, we are not a business and I don’t believe we should come together like a corporation with a corporate-like atmosphere to prove our worthiness. Think of the cost.

    I like that we should hold DWFDW at one central location.
    I do not like that we have already made plans to hold FDW at our central locations and it may be ignored.

    I like that district has high hopes that the President would speak to CCC.
    I do not like that district may be using the President as an excuse to gather us. Logistically, I do not think the citizens would respect our gathering and not mob Grant Park. I wouldn’t blame them.

    I like that district wants to demonstrate “the strength and diversity of the colleges… and acknowledge the expertise of the faculty and staff.”
    I do not like that district may ignore our local strength, diversity, and expertise in planning our own FDW.

    I like that we are a district.
    I do not like that we are a district on paper when it comes to adopting course and accreditation. Who we kiddin’ on this one?

    I like the idea of unification for the sake of providing a quality education for our citizens.
    I do not like the manner in which unification is rushed, organized, and presented.
    I do not like the idea that this is the only way we can think of providing a quality education for our citizens. Come talk to us at the local level first.

    I like that our new chancellor is thinking big and that she is an alumni of City Colleges.
    I do not like that we may come across as recalcitrant faculty if we fail to agree to this request.

    I like The Lounge. Continue to read. Continue to comment. We all benefit.

  7. My question is with this being implemented district wide will it become mandatory and how much of this will still be faculty driven. Also, it would be a terrible thing to interrupt the plans of schools that have gone through great pains to adequately plan and prepare their FDW before the Spring semester let out. Fall 2011 would be best no matter what and would allow for greater preparartion on any level.

    I have an appreciation for what they are trying to accomplish but in short it is not what you do but how you do it….. Thus whoever does it make sure it is worth the time and energy one expends to attend.

    • The idea is that it would be mandatory. Most other campuses already have mandatory FDW. Contractually, we are supposed be working that week.

  8. ” The needs of The One should not out way the needs of The Many
    “..or is it..
    “whether the pitcher (vase) hits the rock or the rock hits the pitcher, it’s going to be bad for the pitcher’. ! ?

  9. OK – before all of the discussion on the Lounge, and the draft of the letter from Faculty Council, and the votes, and comments – before all of that…

    With permission from the Assessment Committee, I contacted Cecilia to suggest that the HWC Assessment Committee has a lot to offer colleagues across the District and could present something for Faculty Development or would like to be involved in any professional development planning regarding the Assessment of Student Learning.

    Cecilia sent an e-mail to VC Henderson in support of the work the HWC Assessment Committee has done. Henderson responded by saying “Of course, we would love for them to present. Please ask them to develop a proposal – just a white paper – so that we can present at the next meeting.”

    As stated in an earlier reply on the Lounge, I personally did not like the idea of a mandated 2010 District-wide faculty development week that wiped out previously planned local events. On the other hand, suggesting faculty-driven content that would be interesting to us and perhaps to other faculty across the District seemed like a good idea at the time.

    My intention was to find a way to make a perhaps poorly timed event meaningful in an effort to build a sense of a learning community with fellow faculty. This was out of respect for the work we do at HWC and an honest attempt to make a positive contribution to a potentially contentious situation.

    I have talked with Mike Heathfield about what the proposal might be – something that would describe where we are at in terms of assessment, but spend more time discussing the process itself and the lessons learned and to share the assessment tools we have developed. It is not about tooting our horn and focusing on products particularly, but about sharing a process and even providing some room for discussion and workshop.

    Here is my question:
    Do we put forward the proposal to have reps from the HWC Assessment committee present at the DWFDW?

    If the HWC Faculty Council is planning to make a strong statement against DWFDW, then it doesn’t make sense for the HWC Assessment Committee to put forth a proposal to present at the event.

    However, if the Faculty Council is not going to make a formal statement against DWFDW, then I think we should make it as meaningful as possible by coming to the table and participating in the planning of the event.

    I’m not sure when the next planning meeting is scheduled, but it seems that they want plans finalized by July 15.

    I truly apologize if my actions have complicated matters. My intentions were good. I generally try to find practical ways to move forward within the context of a fairly crazy system…sometimes that works well and sometimes it doesn’t.

    What do you think?

    Please reply here to discuss how to proceed.
    thanks, Carrie

      • The Union really can’t take a stand on this, since in the contract, we are supposed to be working that week, in any way that district decides – registration, faculty development, or other duties. There is no violation of the contract by making a mandatory Faculty Development Week, locally or district-wide.

        • They can’t stop it, but they could take a position on it…not to mention beginning to develop a plan for if/when the Chancellor enacts this suggested vision of a unified CCC.

          Did it come up at the luncheon?

  10. I think the union needs to take a position now, so that our new Chancellor realizes that we have a voice ( the union), and that our contract actual obligations and rights will be protected now and in the future.

    • Let ’em know. The more they hear it, the more likely it will be to happen.

  11. Phil Stuky we want the union to speak up about this! Phil… are you there???

  12. We lost Dave once during the drill.

    Do ya’ think he’s still in one of the rooms waiting for the all clear????

    WHERE ARE YOU PHIL!?!?!?!?!?

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