Friday Spotlight–Faculty Development Week Action

UPDATE: Bumped up for 24 hours of any final discussion on the subject before it goes to Faculty Council for action. Please note: regular features like “Tuesday Teaching Question” and “Website Wednesday” will be on hiatus over the summer break. Watch for a post on “Summer in the Lounge” later this week.

Ok, so 72ish hours later, I guess it’s time for some discussion of the action plan. Options discussed at the May Faculty Council meeting included the following:

A) Do nothing. The benefits of this approach are that we do not immediately jump off on the wrong foot with our new Chancellor. She has a vision for the city colleges, and apparently something of a mandate (did you see this?) to impose her vision. It might be wise to wait and see, picking our ground for a fight, should one come, over a non-negotiable, rather than over an unfortunate inconvenience whose damage is (likely to be, if there is any) contained to lost opportunities to learn and wasted time, which while bad enough, is not the same as devastating harm to students. The fact is, we’re contractually not working starting on Saturday, and we’re off until August when their operation would welcome us back. Perhaps by doing nothing we cost ourselves some annoyance, but avoid a lot more.

B) State our objections in the hopes of negotiating out a better outcome than we’d get by doing nothing. The risk is obvious, I suppose. No administrator is going to be willing to step out, I suspect (except maybe John or Chuck Guengerich–the other Presidents are too new, and the rest of the Deans and VPs are probably not that interested in the Chancellor’s dog house), and say no to something  Chancellor Hyman wants. Still, maybe there is room for reasoned argumentation. There’s a ton of literature that says for PD to be effective it has to be data driven (justified by data showing need and qualified by data showing impact) and it has to respond to faculty needs, not be imposed from above. The topics proposed are topics, as it says in the draft letter, that have been covered before. Either the old training was worthless or the new training is redundant. The admins haven’t made a case either way–maybe by letting them know that they should (according to best practices), we can help drive them toward doing what they expect us to do, namely making data driven, outcome oriented decisions that positively impact student learning. The letter would be the means for doing this. Discussion of the drafting process (ongoing) is here.

3) Non cooperation and non participation: this is going a little beyond “doing nothing.” By not cooperating, faculty would be sending the message that we will not simply go along with or even bother engaging with decisions that are not learning driven, student focused, and professionally useful. There would be no letter, no objections, no stink–just a clear message of inaction. The DWFDW is not yet mandated, and even if it were, they still can’t make us talk or learn. Even if we have to show up, we need not cooperate.

4) Active opposition and organization all summer long. Ever see Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals. These could, theoretically, be our playbook. Perhaps the best strategy to adopt is one aggressive opposition.

What’s your vote?

P.S.  Here are the official meetings from last week FDW task force meeting.FDW Task Force – Meeting 1 – Official Minutes

20 thoughts on “Friday Spotlight–Faculty Development Week Action

  1. And…Here’s what HWC’s got planned assuming we are able to retain our FDW plans.
    • HWC Certificate and Degree Programs for Future Teachers and Educators
    • Introducing Chicago Studies at HWC
    • Union Issues and Concerns: By the faculty and for the faculty
    • CITT – Center for Instructional Technology and Training
    • Faculty Roundtable on Hybrid Classes
    • Promoting Action Research as a way of Supporting Faculty Professional Growth & Development and for Improving the Scholarship of Teaching in the Classroom
    • Managing Classroom Behavior: Panel Discussion
    • How to apply for conference leave and professional development
    • Teaching Developmental Education: A Workshop for Adjunct Faculty
    • Sabbatical – Designing On-Line Courses
    • The Green Roof, the Vertical Garden and Green Initiatives in the Curriculum
    • Teaching With Smart Technologies
    • Office 2010
    • Creating and implementing a “SENCERized” course
    • Bb 9!
    • and a few more on the way

  2. The letter is non-threatening, non-aggressive, and does not oppose the Chancellor. I think it shows that we are willing to work with her, if she is willing to work with us. It opens a door of communication between the chancellor and the faculty, and gives her the opportunity to show that she respects us as faculty. Whatever comes out of it, I think we will then know how her reign will be – whether a dictatorship or slightly democratic. It does need a conclusion. Maybe something like:

    “In summary, we see some very good ideas in the proposal for a DWFDW, however, we believe that, like a fine wine, these ideas need to age until August of 2011 in order for the entire district to take full advantage of and to get the most out of this great opportunity.”

    Respectfully Submitted,

  3. I say we invite the Chancellor to our college for OUR FDWeek. That would still give us four good days of HWC FD AND it would give us an opportunity to communicate our success, diversity, and concerns.

    That should provide, or at least buy us, some time for the ideas to age.

  4. I like option 2 or 4, leaning toward 2. Although, as I mention in the letter discussion thread, I’m not sure why we are not taking a stronger stance against DWFDC given what seems widespread opposition to the entire idea (not just for this year, but for years to come as well).

    I am very much against option 3, especially the tactic of showing up, but refusing to participate, talk, or learn. Even if DWFDW is an inefficient use of our time, which could be much better spent, it would probably still offer *something* useful. And if paying attention makes me slightly more knowledgeable, but silent resistance makes me no more knowledgeable, then for my own good I’d participate as well as I could.

    Besides, the double standard seems obvious. The students walking into my philosophy class often do not understand the point of a philosophy class at the beginning of the semester. But if they ‘show up, but refuse to learn’…well, they fail. And those that do participate find it valuable in ways they could not predict.

    Then again, I’m brand new to the full-time faculty and have yet to experience more than one official faculty development program.

    • I hear your objection to rejecting any sort of learning opportunity, Kamran, and I actually agree with that part. When this one was discussed as an option (only briefly, and it was not particularly popular, either), the emphasis was more on the non-cooperation in the planning (as opposed to your justified impression that we were advocating showing up and acting impudently (as the last sentence under number 3 seems to suggest)).

      So, for example, I was asked if I would be part of a talk on SENCER. Though I believe in what SENCER is all about (generally) and think it’s a good thing, I think the whole endeavor (DWDFD) is not so I declined to be a participant.

      It is not, however, a step I advocate for all, nor would I begrudge those who decide that if it’s going to happen, they might as well participate in order to make it as valuable a use of faculty time as they can. I recognize that such an argument is reasonable, even if I don’t find it, personally, persuasive.

      Also, I have no problem with the “double standard” here. The circumstances are significantly different. The analogy would seem to me to be to a student who capably and effectively plans her own path through the curriculum, creates a schedule, enrolls, and then is called into the advisor’s office and given a different schedule without justification except for some allusions to ‘esprit de corps’ and cost efficiencies. A student in such a situation would be justified in walking away from such an “opportunity.” Since we, however, will not likely have such freedom of choice…

  5. So, I heard it through the grapevine, that the new Chancellor hates HW, does not want to hear about any of the good things that we are doing or have done, and basically wants us to shut up and do what she says. Apparently, her agenda in all of this is to bring Olive-Harvey up closer to the top of the pyramid, since that is her alma mater, and she was horrified to learn that it’s basically at the bottom of the barrel of the CCC. Just putting it out there, don’t know if it’s true, but that’s the rumor about town.

  6. I like the letter. It is respectful yet action oriented. I feel like there is too much hostility in faculty/administration discussions (and I am very sensitive to hostility), and so I want whatever we do to be respectful. Yet district’s attempt to ruin the hard work of CAST’s FDW plans is rather hostile, and I feel like action does need to be taken.

  7. My “Other” vote is essentially B as listed, just the emphasis on cordiality and collegiality as some of you have noted. It’s very likely that the Chancellor just does not know what a good thing we have going, or does but is measuring it against CCC on the whole (though I don’t know anything about what other campuses are doing). I’ve always found John W. to be a great advocate – has anyone walked him through the letter yet

  8. Just got the email from John Metoyer re: the mandatory 5-day FDW. Glad to see our concerns and ideas were given such careful consideration. Options 3 and 4 are looking pretty good right now.

    • I don’t think that our concerns and ideas have been given to anyone yet. Have they? If not, we need to do something NOW.

      • FC has been talking via e-mail about this all week. We’re getting there.

        • Now that it’s been made public, it may be too late for them to make changes – meaning, they don’t want to seem like they can be swayed. We should have responded immediately, not two weeks later.

          • I understand the frustration, UsuallyConfused, but A) it was public when they announced the task force (and double public once they held the meeting and VC Henderson said, “Everybody needs to get on board.” From an email he sent to Amanda, it seems that Metoyer’s email was sent as a courtesy to faculty who may need to know for planning purposes. And B) while I know what I think (and would say), it’s a little less clear, even now, what the whole Faculty Council has to say on the matter, and much less clear regarding what the whole faculty has to say. Since we are speaking for the body, in a sense, we have to make sure that we say what they think in a responsible manner, which takes some time and is both delicate and messy. I’d rather that we take the time to accurately understand (and state) the fullest sense of the faculty’s position than rush off to express an opinion held by a few, however strongly held it may be.

            Council members, as late as yesterday, have raised thoughtful and legitimate concerns about the wisdom of sending a letter in light of developing circumstances, to whom the letter ought to be sent (if at all), the potential responses to the letter, who should be the signatories of the letter, whether the letter could be bolstered by other college’s Faculty Councils, FC4, and/or the Union, other committees, etc., and more.

            It is, in a sense, a microcosm of the point we’re making in regard to DWFDW; to truly take into account the views and ideas of a group of people takes a lot of time and care and attention, even moreso when those people are scattered and/or otherwise occupied (with, say, end of term grading). One response to that challenge is to delay. The other is to impose a singular vision for the collective one. We are requesting a delay. I suspect we will get the latter. I think it’s important that we not commit the sin we are decrying.

          • PS: I’m hoping to squeeze out an update post for everyone later today.

            If not today, then before the weekend is out for sure.

  9. I am trying to imagine the insanity of the logistics of this event – making people to commute from distantly located colleges to the Loop for the duration of 5 days…

    • Looks like Monday at home campuses and T-F at Malcolm. At the moment, anyway.

  10. Let me add my two cents here. Sadly, this is about the worst way the new Chancellor can begin her tenure. No greater mistake can be made by any new executor than not to first visit, listen, and otherwise engage with the organization to become more personally aware of its strengths, weaknesses, concerns, etc. The alternative is to hold certain objective personal opinions on all aspects of the organization, at least some of which are destined to be badly mistaken.

    It is not yet June, but District (… heavens, … as I typed that word I am reminded that it was MY suggestion to then new Chancellor Wayne Watson, in my final address to the Board when I was the FC4 President, that the name “Central Office” by changed to “District Office” as a symbol of the administration’s desire to “de-centralize” and allow fuller campus autonomy – he agreed to the idea on the spot! … should we now revert back to calling it “Central Office”?), … sorry, … okay, … as I was saying, … it is not yet June, nonetheless District is mandating almost a full week of sessions for which we can almost be certain they have yet to devise an agenda. Contrast that with what CAST had done in the past, and have again this term proposed to do, for FDW here at HW. Were you a truly concerned CCC District administrator, could you imagine much worse than forcing the entire faculty to sit through spiels for which they’ll likely have almost no interest, and/or be subjected to seminars led by folks, and pontificating opinions, they’ll likely have little respect for?

    Well, as long as I’m posting, let me tell you another interesting thing. When FDW was first added to the contract, the HWCFC officially termed the week “First Week.” The schedule of activities were distributed as “HWC First Week Activities.” It was a great idea. My buddy Dave doesn’t think very much of the Blackhawks’ logo; am I mistaken in thinking he can’t then be too fond of the term “Faculty Development”? : )

  11. I will once again offer the following suggestion with the greatest respect to our institution and District/Central office:

    Invite our new chancellor to our campus for our one-day faculty development week (if the Metoyer email is official). We could voice our concerns at that time and still comply with the request.

    If our chancellor can visit, great! We can have a good meet-and-greet session with her. If she is unable to attend, then I’d like to get it in writing.

    I would also like to state that we should not put an ‘us-against-them’ spin on this event. I am rather tired of hearing the same ol’ same ol’ regarding the awful relationship between faculty and administration – primarily from our union (Hey, MathArt, can you get a pulse on the union for us?). I believe it has permeated too far into our departments and programs.

    I believe that the chancellor means well with this event. She may not know how we work, but before we go on the attack, we should communicate our concerns. We have a very good opportunity to foster open lines of communications for the future. Let’s be careful and NOT assume the worst. One week of District-wide events may be a hard vitamin to swallow, but let’s not forget the benefits that may come from bottled vitamin D on overcast days.

    Keep enjoying your summer everyone.

  12. If we are “forced” to go all to MX to “school development week” from T-F, we might have the possibility of turning this into something positive by getting to know what happens in other colleges among our colleagues. Remember that we practically don’t know what issues happen beyond HWC. If there are similar issues that need to be solved, we might be able to consider the possibility of an open Town Hall meeting for Thursday or Friday of that week. We can plan on a faculty development survey for all faculty and collect it. That could be a thermometer to pass to FC4. Also, the Union survey idea can even be better across the entire system.
    These data collection can help us consider more valid proposals in the future based on its results. What do you all think?

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