Teaching & Learning Champions 16: Faculty training & support in support of Guided Pathways
August 11, 2020
Today on Teaching & Learning Champions, we’re joined by Michelle Fitzpatrick, Assistant Dean, Faculty Development. We’re talking about faculty training & support in support of Guided Pathways.
Thanks for listening to TLC @ ACC!
[ Music ]
[Matthew Evins:] Welcome to another episode of Teaching and Learning Champions. I’m Matt Evins, director of instructional technology and digital resources in the teaching and learning excellence division of ACC. For this last episode of the 2019/2020 academic year, I’m joined by Michelle Fitzpatrick, assistant dean of faculty development, as we talk about faculty training and support, and supportive guided pathways. Michelle, thanks for joining me.
[Michelle Fitzpatrick:] Hi, Matt. Thank you so much for having me here today.
[Matthew Evins:] Let’s just go ahead and jump in because there’s quite a few questions for us to talk through today. What are the goals and missions of the faculty development department?
[Michelle Fitzpatrick:] So the faculty development department, we work very collaboratively with our faculty. That is a key component to everything that we do. And we provide quality professional development opportunities and recognition opportunities to inspire faculty members to ultimately continually learn and improve their craft to support student success and our faculty values. So when it comes to our goals, we do have some specific goals that we are focusing on. The first is to work collaboratively within sectors of TLED, and across ACC to increase the delivery of training, and teaching and learning competence that has a direct impact on our classroom practice. And that’s a lot of those high impact practices that you hear of. Secondly increase equity based professional development opportunities for faculty. We have offered a new workshop this past year called blind spots that has been very well received. Almost 200 faculty and staff have already gone through it. And we will be working with our new director of — our director of truth, racial healing, and transformation center, Khayree Williams, and our chief equity diversion inclusion officer Larry Davis to really plan out what other programming we’re going to do that is equity focused professional development for our faculty. We are even rolling out this fall a new course that was developed by a faculty member, Lydia CDeBaca on becoming an equity minded instructor. It’s a five week hybrid course that she’s been working on for about two years now, and we’re excited to launch that this fall. And a lot of opportunities — other opportunities as well, of course. And the last goal that we’re really focusing on is increasing training delivery on assessment of student learning to strengthen continuous improvement.
[Matthew Evins:] So you mentioned already like a blind spots training, and some other things that you guys have coming up, but what types of — What other forms of training and support does faculty development make available to our faculty?
[Michelle Fitzpatrick:] Sure. So our faculty development area, we are really trying to design programming that is designed to offer faculty training and support during their entire life cycle as an ACC faculty member. So it really starts with on boarding, and we rolled out a new extensive program to all faculty that started this past fall, 2019. In addition to that, we also rolled out fall 2019 our first year long cohort program of our teaching and learning academy which is an opportunity for many faculty like myself to have a workforce background or a background where they were not trained to be a faculty member, and now they’re learning the ins and outs of the brain, the how to build a community of learners, and all the pieces of what it takes to be a teacher. And then being able to combine those skills with their research, their discipline specific knowledge. So that has been really exciting for us. We just finished our first cohorts this May, and we had a total of 62 graduates. So we will be kicking off our next teaching and learning cohort again this fall. Additionally, other types of support is we offer faculty interest groups, faculty learning communities. We are doing lots of workshops. And I am sure most of the college knows, but all faculty and staff, we have two very large events that happen each year. Our spring development day right before the start of the spring semester. And then our summer software day which we just had virtually this past week in July of 2020. And there’s a lot more that goes along with that too, Matt, but we could sit here all day and talk about that if you really wanted to.
[Matthew Evins:] I think that gives everybody a pretty good idea. Going back to the summer software day that you just mentioned because this is the first time it was completely virtual, do you have numbers as to how many faculty signed up to attend or actually attended?
[Michelle Fitzpatrick:] Sure. So we just had it this past week so gathering the actual numbers of attendants, though we did have over 1,030 participants signed up to attend summer software day which is the largest ever. And I can say that during our keynote that we had, there was [inaudible] staff signed in just to listen to our keynote speaker [inaudible] amazing for our first virtual conference. It was a really great experience by all, and I’m really impressed at how it all came together.
[Matthew Evins:] That’s excellent. So faculty development, the idea behind faculty development and the need for providing professional development opportunities for faculty, is nothing new. And certainly nothing new at ACC. But can you talk a little bit about how faculty development has changed in the last couple of years, predominantly in the last year or so, since ACC’s adoption of the guided pathways model?
[Michelle Fitzpatrick:] Now that’s an interesting question because when I think about how it’s changed because of guided pathways, I think it’s really validated the work that we are doing, but then it’s given us the opportunity to align what we’re doing and the research we’re providing with the guided pathways. So, for instance, we are doing our on boarding work for new faculty. As we are teaching things like assessment and high impact practices, or teaching faculty how to read degree maps, these are all part of the pillars on the path for guided pathways. And so now when we are sharing this content information, we can say, “And here’s how it aligns to the bigger picture of what’s happening here at the college.”
[Matthew Evins:] That makes sense. There are a lot of programs. You know, summer software day, spring development day, that you already mentioned that are things that you know faculty need. Faculty need training on. But on the other side of that, what types of requests are faculty making to faculty development in terms of what training and support they feel that they need in order to be able to support guided pathways?
[Michelle Fitzpatrick:] That is a good question, especially during this time in COVID 19. Requests are a little bit different now than maybe how they used to be. Right? So when we are getting requests from faculty now, it’s gosh. You know, here’s how I was implementing high impact practices in the classroom before. And now I have to do this online. So how do I build this community and the student engagement in the online environment versus the ways I was doing it in the classroom? Right? That’s been a really big topic. The second significant topic that’s come up with faculty is the focus on assessment. So as we talk about having an equitable classroom, and being inclusive in our teaching, assessment plays a big part in that too. And particularly during this time of COVID 19, well maybe not everybody has the same access to all the same technology. Right? So we are working with faculty to be aware of all the creative ways that you can have alternative assessments. And how to better assess learning in general even if it is in the classroom versus online. And all the options for testing and proctoring or project based learning, building portfolios, and using a lot of technology that we have to have still an engaging classroom and still accomplish our student learning outcomes in all of our courses. I’d say that those are probably the two hot topics and big focuses that have happened recently.
[Matthew Evins:] Great. And with all those different types of trainings, especially you know with the numbers you mentioned on how many faculty have gone through the blind spots training this year, what type of feedback are you getting from faculty on the impact that the work that your office is doing having on their teaching?
[Michelle Fitzpatrick:] You know, I love this question because, as most of us know, when we find out that we have to go to the training, it’s that, “Oh, we have to go to training.” And it’s that dreaded feeling sometimes. Right? And so I have faculty that will be very up front with me, and there’s on particular person I’m thinking of in my mind right now that said, “I am here because I have to be.” I just said, “Oh, my gosh. That breaks my heart.” But afterwards we were about halfway through our one session, and he came up to me and said, “This is by far the best training I have ever gone to, and I am so sorry that I came in feeling down about it in the beginning. And I am so engaged. I’m learning so much. I’m definitely going to share this with my colleagues.” So that — That really, you know, makes us feel great. And, if anything, it’s we want more. And we’re talking about the work with discover your blind spots in particular. Folks want more. They say, “This is a great opener, a really 101 course. What can we do next to have deeper conversations?” And that’s really something that my team is thinking a great deal about, and we will be working with Mister Larry Davis and Harry Williams to develop what those next steps look like, and make sure they align with the goals of ACC, and the vision that our new chief of equity officer has as well.
[Matthew Evins:] So and that’s excellent feedback from faculty on the impact. Does your team ever get an opportunity to hear any feedback from students on the impact of your work?
[Michelle Fitzpatrick:] That’s a great question. Well, with our teaching and learning academy, we’ve had that opportunity because our — What our faculty are doing or actually immediately implementing their teaching and learning practices from their courses in to their classes. And they are doing pre assessments of their students, and post assessments. So most recently when we were doing a wrap up of a TLA session, there were actually a few students that came to join us, and they shared some amazing testimonials about how they saw their classroom transform throughout the semester because of the impact of what their teacher was implementing based on what they learned in the teaching and learning academy. So yeah. We have had the opportunity to receive some of that direct student feedback.
[Matthew Evins:] Great. Are there any other projects or initiatives, either things in the works or things that you’re planning for the future, that would benefit faculty and/or staff to know as it relates to guided pathways?
[Michelle Fitzpatrick:] I think something that’s a really great opportunity is our on boarding monthly sessions that we’re doing. So I know that they’re labeled on boarding. And in the fall semester since we have such a large group of new faculty each year, full time and adjunct, we do limit it to that cohort in the fall offerings. But in the spring we offer on boarding sessions again, and they are open to all faculty. On boarding is truly for everyone. It’s not just for the first semester faculty here at ACC. And in that we are doing really important work on making sure that what we are learning applies the guided pathways, and that we all understand what it even is. Right? I mean sometimes we hear it as a term, but we don’t understand how it affects us individually. And the work that we’re doing in these monthly sessions is application of what we can leave and do that’s going to help support our pathway goals.
[Matthew Evins:] Great. Before we jump in to the last question which is not related to guided pathways at all, or at least doesn’t have to be, you’ve talked about a lot of programs, and a lot of things that the faculty development office makes available to faculty. Where could faculty go to find out more information or to sign up for some of these sessions if — something that you’ve mentioned is of interest to them?
[Michelle Fitzpatrick:] I mean there’s two places. You can always go in to the workshop database. In the workshop database we have our on boarding sessions posted there. We even have what’s been called — We started since COVID 19, the pandemic, is our remote recess sessions where lots of faculty have done short demos. And then we recorded them, and put them in our workshop database. Also the TLED website. TLED.austincc.edu. There. You can go under development opportunities, and see all of these programs that we have mentioned here so far today, and more. Or email me directly.
[Matthew Evins:] I have a feeling your email inbox is about to get even more flooded than it already is.
[Michelle Fitzpatrick:] I look forward to it.
[Matthew Evins:] Well, Michelle, before I let you go, last question which is a grab bag that I ask all of the guests. What’s given you river bat pride this week?
[Michelle Fitzpatrick:] Oh, gosh. What a big week to be asking that question. Well, I have two things that I want to share. All right. So we mentioned that we had summer software day this past Friday. And I have spent the morning reading the feedback. It makes me feel so proud of our river bat community. There was over 20 TLED team members behind the scenes that it took to put on our first virtual conference. Matt and your team, they were a very instrumental part of this. And we had 34 presenters from our faculty and staff that shared their knowledge and experiences with their colleagues to promote ultimately student success. The feedback people are saying — these workshops just, and what they’ve learned, and how they’re going to apply it is really rewarding to see the impact of the work that we’re doing. The second piece is I’m really excited that our team is meeting with our new chief equity diversity and inclusion officer, Larry Davis, and Khayree Williams, our director of truth, racial healing, and transformation center this week as we continue the work of making our classrooms an environment that is safe and equitable and make sure that all the work that we’re doing incorporates culturally responsive teaching as we continue that. So those are two highlights of my week. I could go on. There’s a few other things happening this week. But I guess I’ll leave you with that, Matt.
[Matthew Evins:] Well, that’s great. Michelle, thank you very much for join gin us today, and for giving us a lot of insight and information on what the faculty development office does, and how you support faculty, especially through the implementation of guided pathways.
[Michelle Fitzpatrick:] Well, thank you so much for having me, Matt. This was fun. And I hope that, if anything, people have more questions to ask in regard to the work we’re doing, and suggestions. We’re always open and willing to hear what other folks think we should be doing to help out our community. So thank you so much.
[Matthew Evins:] Great. Well, that wraps up another episode and season of Teaching and Learning Champions. Don’t forget that you can view blog posts for each episode on the TLED website. I also encourage you to subscribe to the ACC district podcast on any of your preferred podcast apps or listen to individual episodes on the TLED website. Thank you for tuning in, and we’ll chat next time on TLC at ACC.
[ Music ]