HIGHER ED TEACHING STRATEGIES FROM MAGNA PUBLICATIONS
Faculty Learning Communities (FLC) are spaces that allow for improving one’s pedagogy, seeking intellectual stimulation, meeting other colleagues who are interested in similar topics, or
Countless workshops, seminars, retreats, and other faculty development courses are offered under the assumption that they can positively affect how faculty teach, which in turn will help students learn.
I continue to worry that we devalue the affective dimensions of teaching—the emotional energy it takes to keep delivering high-quality instruction.
Most faculty are on solid ground in terms of expertise. We know and, in most cases, love our content. We don’t get tired of it—oh, maybe we do a bit in those foundation courses, but the content isn’t what wears us down; it’s the daily grind, having to be there every class session, not just physically present but mentally and emotionally engaged as well. Good teaching requires more energy than we think it does.
I’ve been thinking here lately about that long mid-career stretch where there is no clearly defined beginning or ending. You’re no longer a new faculty member, but aren’t yet an old one. From a pedagogical perspective, what makes that time window unique? In a recent post on tired teaching I identified what I think is the major challenge of those years—keeping your teaching fresh and keeping yourself engaged, enthusiastic, and instructionally moving forward. On the other hand, some special opportunities are afforded by that long stretch in the middle. The question is whether we’re taking full advantage of them.
When teachers tell me about some new strategy or approach they’ve implemented, I usually ask how they found out about it and almost always get the same response: “Oh, a colleague told me about it.” I continue to be amazed by the amount of pedagogical knowledge that is shared verbally (and electronically) between colleagues.
Consider this hypothetical situation: The vice president of academic affairs has just sent you a cryptic email asking you to define the impact of your faculty development center. Could you do so? What would you say? How would you measure the impact?
This is an era of rapid transformation and heightened opportunities for Faculty Development Centers (FDCs). There is a growing realization that faculty development can be a crucial component in addressing some of the most significant challenges facing higher education, including technology’s impact on teaching, reliance on part-time and distance faculty, and student success.
The past 10 years have witnessed some massive growing pains in education. Nearly all aspects at all levels have been touched by efforts to reform in an attempt to create meaningful learning opportunities for today’s students. New tools, skills, approaches, and media have redefined the way we create those experiences, and educators who don’t learn and engage in them will see themselves become increasingly irrelevant. In short, faculty development now more than ever is necessary to an institution’s viability.
Faculty development has become a priority at many academic institutions as a way to improve the quality of academic programs and to respond to emerging faculty, student, program, and industry needs.