Blogs as PD

When I read this piece about Blogs, Wikis, and Professional Development for teachers off the ASCD website this summer, I was rolling along, feeling comfortable enough but not really moved in any significant way, and then I hit this paragraph:

With the investment of a bit of time and effort, I’ve found a group of writers to follow who expose me to more interesting ideas in one day than I’ve been exposed to in the past 10 years of costly professional development. Professional growth for me starts with 20 minutes of blog browsing each morning, sifting through the thoughts of practitioners whom I might never have been able to learn from otherwise and considering how their work translates into what I do with students.

This learning has been uniquely authentic, driven by personal interests and connected to classroom realities. Blogs have introduced a measure of differentiation and challenge to my professional learning plan that had long been missing…

What’s more, the readers of my own blog challenge my thinking in provocative comments day after day.

By far, the most frequent comment I hear about the Lounge is, “I don’t know where you find the time.” Admittedly it takes some time, but probably not as much as it seems. I do most of the week’s postings in a handful (three or four) of sittings, and then use the scheduler to post them. Plus, it’s all stuff I’m reading anyway.

Still, I know that there is more that I’d like to see become a regular part of the show. There are many things that I’d like to have be a part of my “professional development” that this has become. The question is whether anyone else is interested in those things, too. So, here’s a little poll to get at what any of youse would like to see show up in The Lounge on occasion. No promises, but I’ll do what I can.

UPDATE: This poll is set up so you can choose multiple answers. If you choose “Other” please slap it up in the comments!

Advising Model

I thought this was an interesting article on a different advising model for students.

I’m not totally clear on how it would work in, say, Illinois, but I like the idea of their being a team of advisors whose knowledge of the different state colleges is much more specialized than my own.  Failing the creation of something of this sort, I’d like to, at least, find some really good resources for giving students a sense of the strengths of different transfer possibilities (and the difficulties–particularly for transfers from a city college). The truth is that I don’t even know what life is now like at the college I went to. I know what it was like 20 years ago when I arrived on campus, but that was 20 years ago. Pretty sure some stuff is different now. I know a little about a few different places (UIC, DePaul, and Chicago State) through a select few former students, but not much.

I would really, really, really, like to see some surveying done of transferred students, post transfer, about the institutions they chose to try to get a sense of where I might direct students to (or away from) in the future.

I’d guess a lot of folks are looking for something like that (especially the students), and if it were an easy thing to make or find, it would be out there already and we’d know about it. I still can’t shake the feeling, though, that there has to be more info out there somewhere. There has to be a better resource (or model) than me making largely uninformed guesses about schools on the basis of things I’ve heard or surmised here and there.

Any ideas?

Think, Know, Prove–Faculty Council Goals

Think, Know, Prove is a regular Saturday feature, where a topic with both mystery and importance is posted for community discussion. The title is a shortened version of the Investigative Mantra: What do we think, what do we know, what can we prove? and everything from wild speculation to resource referencing fact is welcome here.

UPDATE: Bumped up to increase visibility, catalyze caring, and give MathArt a Monday Morning Howdoyoudo!

On Thursday, April 15th, District Wide Faculty Council (a.k.a., FC4) President Keith McCoy addressed the Board of Directors. This was his statement:

Good afternoon to the Board of Trustees, Officers of the District, and guests.

I want to extend a special welcome to Chairman Chico and Chancellor Hyman. Faculty Council looks forward to working with both of you.

Textbook costs continue to be a concern for Faculty council. We will keep monitoring the practices of faculty and academic departments to ensure that decisions take into account financial impact to students. We hope to leverage our relationships with publishers like Pearson, whose textbooks we voluminously use across the district, to offer lower costs to students.

Faculty Council will continue to collaborate with Academic Affairs in order to provide sound and good academic policies. We will provide Academic Affairs with a list of “good practices” that we would like to see involved in the tenure process. Our goal is to make sure that the process is transparent and fair for all stakeholders.

As CCC prepares to conclude the spring semester, Faculty Council wants to assist the district and faculty with late syllabi or course approvals. As a result, we will hold a special session on May 5 in order to meet these needs.

I wish all a great day. I wish our student trustee, Antony Chungath, much success in his future endeavors. It was a pleasure watching him grow from a student into a leader.

Thank you.

Today’s topic is a forward looking one. Just as it is important to reflect on what has and hasn’t happened in a given year, it is equally important, while still in the thick of things to think about where we want to go; we should ask ourselves whether we hit this year’s goals, but also ask ourselves what new goals have arisen and which old goals remain.

President McCoy, in what I believe will be his last address to the board (Theresa reported that he’s taking a district gig next year), speaks of two areas of concern: text books and “good and sound academic policies,” specifically identifying tenure practices. I’m not sure what he means when he says, “We’ll keep monitoring the practices of faculty and academic departments to ensure that decisions take into account financial impact to students,” nor do I know what he means when he says, “We hope to leverage our relationships with publishers like Pearson, whose textbooks we voluminously use across the district, to offer lower costs to students.”

Not sure what the plan is for developing the “good practices list” either, but as I’ve said before, I’m a big proponent of making changes to that disaster, so I hope their list helps illuminate some of the shortcomings of our current system.

Our concern here, though, is with developing some ideas for next year’s Faculty Council’s (local and/or district wide. What are your most urgent areas of concern, issues that you’d like to see taken up by Faculty Council next year? What do you think Faculty Council (local or FC4) ought to be focused on? What are three things you’d like to see changed?

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