Talking Shop While Shuttling between Campuses

racecarSo, found this new website for adjunct faculty – Pedagogy Unbound.  Well, actually, it was on my Daughter’s Facebook page.  It came out of the Chronicle of Higher Ed article – So, How do you Talk Shop When You’re Shuttling Between Campuses?  We don’t need to reinvent anything – but, just like this 9x9x25 Challenge, it allows for conversations (in-person or online) about teaching – about ideas on solving problems – making connections with students – better teaching – better learning.

As colleagues, we all have a lot of collective knowledge about ‘how to’, which we may or may not share.  Whether it be a lack of time, or the sometimes ‘ownership’ of our classes and ways in which we teach them, we all can advocate and share our talents and ideas.  In all honesty, I think our college does this better than most; within and outside our own departments.  But…I DO think we could do more sharing as (and with) adjunct faculty – the lone rangers out there!   Problem is how and where.   Of course, there are plenty of places where faculty can search for teaching tips online. I refer a lot to Faculty Focus, associated with The Teaching Professor newsletter.  I also use Oncourse and Edutopia, although Edutopia is mostly K-12.

Many full-time faculty members engage in such talk on a daily basis, sharing teaching problems and tips during everyday interactions in the hallway or over lunch. We have adjuncts who shuttle between two campuses – or teach on campus and online. That leaves not a lot of time or opportunity to talk shop with fellow faculty.  Heck, they may not even see another faculty member the whole semester. This is especially true if they teach at night and/or for more than one institution (where have we heard that before?!).

Adjunct Faculty also don’t have much opportunity to attend conferences unless they pay for it themselves.  (Side note here – with cuts in most institutional budgets, how do those professional conferences stay afloat?)

Pedagogy Unbound originator, David Gooblar, PhD, shuttles between two small colleges in Illinois and Iowa, teaching courses in composition and American literature, leaving him not a lot of opportunity to talk shop. According to Gooblar, “The site’s focus is on teaching tips that are (1) able to be explained briefly, (2) easy to put into practice, and (3) easy to adapt to most, if not all, disciplines.”  Running since August, the site has a dozen or more categories, so I’m sure you’ll find something worthwhile.

The sorta goes with my previous post – We all Have Something to Share.  So, check this out – read a topic and post something on Pedagogy Unbound.     Pedagogy

We all have something to share – just ask the right questions!

doggy-questions2.jpgYou’ll notice by my picture that I like doggies!   They have so much to share – and they do ask questions of you, but the best part is the unconditional love they always give you – even if you are too busy to take them for that walk.

To me teaching is sharing – sharing is teaching.  We all have something to share – with our families – with students – with colleagues – with our communities.  The sharing becomes part of scholarly teaching.  Most of us are scholarly instructors.  We read, plan, teach, reflect, change and read some more.  It’s when you share those plans (be public) with peer review, discussion, evidence, and evaluation that builds and develops our teaching.

I remember attending a conference on teaching and learning in the late 1990s that talked about a concept, the “Scholarship of Teaching and Learning” (evolving into SoTL).  It was an interesting concept to me because I thought that’s what we all did as a matter of course – sharing – questioning – building – reflecting- and sharing some more.   Teaching is public.  But it’s our sharing, questioning, criticism, and evaluation in a public way that actually creates the scholarship.  So, is there SoTL at Yavapai College?  Yes, I can think of several things:

  • Summer & Winter Institutes – review (and some friendly criticism) and evaluation from peers from which we develop further
  • TeLS and the way we are sharing here – I’m sure there will be some review and (kind) criticism too!
  • Faculty Committees
  • Our Gen Ed process over the past year or so – a great scholarly exercise
  • Free classes we take at YC
  • Our Quality Initiative Project – comparing delivery methods in our courses
  • Sharing in our division meetings
  • Sharing in scholarly journals or at a conference

Some of the best SoTL, for me, begins in conversations in the hallway – questions on a particular assignment, quiz, or project spark conversation and, perhaps, action by both parties.   So, what’s the right question?  It’s the one you really want to know – How did you do that?  What did you use?  What are the resources?  Where can I find more information?  Who else can I speak with?  Once the question is asked I research what I don’t know (and want to know more about), follow up and build my knowledge base and, hopefully, I’m the one that shares next time when someone asks me a question.

We all have experiences – from our education – from our careers – and from life – that gives us gifts to share when others ask – our SoTL so to speak.  So, remember to ask the right questions – share your gifts they are important, and they contribute to the tapestry of life!

-Chris     Chris - Scholar