Faculty Development Week 2011

Have you checked your e-mail in the past minute and a half?  If not, you missed this from hwc_CAST.

Hello all.  I have some very important news.

There is a very good chance that we will have 3 days of local Faculty Development here at HWC this summer and 2 days district-wide .  I received this information from a high authority, but I must warn you that it is not 100% set in stone.  Nonetheless, we need to be prepared.  CAST is charged with planning this event and did so up until last year’s little surprise.

Please follow the link below to fill out the brief survey about the programming for FDW.  Assuming that this does occur, we’ll need to move fast.  My goal is to have things in place, at least tentatively, before the end of the semester.  Yes, this is extremely ambitious, but I am confident that we can make it happen.


Thanks again.

Chris Sabino
CAST coordinator

“make lemons out of [DWFDW] lemonade”

Yes, to borrow the innocent, yet powerful, quote from PhiloDave’s daughter, I’d like to create this open post and keep it running all week in some way or another to focus on POSITIVE outcomes from Faculty Development Week. (OK, you can list concerns too.)

With Day 1 Day 2 underway, what will you or what have you done with your lemons?

Thanks for the input everyone! Here we go with Day 3 4 the last day of events! It will be short. Possibly sweet?
Last chance to leave a comment before the post leaves the main page. (Thanks for keeping it at the top Dave!)

Small hint to the timid and shy: You don’t need to leave an email in order to comment. Just a name. Silly, outrageous, and creative appears to be the fad.

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

A Letter about DWFDW

So far 28/33=85% agree that DWFDW should not occur Fall 2010.  3/33=9% are  on the fence about it or are on the fence.  There’s been a lot of traffic to yesterday’s post about the district proposal for DWFDW.  I know PhiloDave was going to post something tomorrow about what we’re going to do next, but I’m going to jump the gun slightly.

First of all, if you haven’t voted in the poll, please do so and check out some of the replies/reply to the post. The more input we have, the better.

In terms of moving forward, Theresa Carlton, Math faculty, has drafted a letter for Chancellor Hyman and V.C Henderson.  If we decide to express our concern in written form, this is definitely a good start.  Here’s the link to the letter in Google docs (my new best friend).  If you’d like to add to this letter, please reply to this post and I can give you access (I’d just need your e-mail address).  I thought this would be better than giving access to anyone with the link in case we have other visitors to the site.

This letter came as a result of conversations that Theresa and I have had over the past day, though she’s the author and deserves the credit for it.  Is there anything we should add (other than a conclusion)?  Is the tone suitable?  If we send it, when should we?  Who should sign it?  (Theresa? FC? CAST? HWC faculty?, etc.)  Do we want faculty from across the district involved in expressing our concerns to district?  Should we act or wait to see what happens since nothing is set in stone with respect to DWFDW?

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.

Think, Know, Prove–Registration Training

So I don’t think anyone would deny that there is precious little training (other than trial and error) received by faculty on how to register students for classes. New folks sit with some more experienced folks for a couple of days and then, once they know how to use PeopleSoft with some comfort, they start advising.

In the past few years there have been a couple of training sessions available to faculty during Faculty Development Week, but the general presumption is that faculty know what they’re doing and provide accurate and good advice to students looking to register for classes. Or, maybe I should say, the system operates as if that were the case.

Yet, in conversations with administrators about advising, they consistently talk about errors by faculty advisors, and, with but two exceptions, the same goes for what is said by faculty about other faculty. Most faculty I know and talk to, even the two exceptions, would, I think, suggest that faculty are ill-prepared at best to advise the plurality of students we get during the Peak Registration period. The vast majority are undoubtedly knowledgeable in advice about some area or other, but few, if any, are ready to advise anyone who sits down in front of them, yet the system suggests they are (with the exception of brand new students) and that they do a great job with them.

Our most recent Humanities Department assessment suggested otherwise; we found that somewhere around 10% of the students in our Humanities 201 and 202 classes do not have the pre-requisite for the class they took the survey in, and that’s NOT including all of the students (of which there were many) who self-identified in the first week or two of class (through writing samples and/or fear after hearing about the course requirements. That’s a lot of mis-advised students.

This past week, Faculty Council met with the Student Services honchos to discuss some FC concerns about registration and advising, and the discussion eventually turned to the possible benefits of an advising protocol, at least, and/or training session for faculty members–something more rigorous than sitting next to another person or two. It would be deadly, though, if it turns into an exercise of the useless sort. So, when it comes to advising students, what are your consistent concerns? What are your consistent challenges? What sorts of things do you want to know more about and what sorts of things do you want everyone else to know about your classes and programs?

What do you think? What do you know? What can you prove?