Small Changes: Big Results

We are a month into Spring and the time for adjustments or changes may seem to have passed. It is not too late to make a small change that could make a big difference for your students. I often return to the Small Change Series from James Lang during these moments because it is such a pragmatic guide to making adjustments during the semester (you only need a free Chronicle account to access these). In this tip I want to recommend an excerpt from his short essay on the last five minutes of class (library link) where instead of cramming in another example or theory you could try out a connection exercise. 

Closing connections. If we want students to obtain mastery and expertise in our subjects, they need to be capable of making their own connections between what they are learning and the world around them — current events, campus debates, personal experiences. The last five minutes of class represent an ideal opportunity for students to use the course material from that day and brainstorm some new connections.

Finish the last class of the week five minutes early, and tell students that they can leave when they have identified five ways in which the day’s material appears in contexts outside of the classroom. You’ll be amazed at how quickly they can come up with examples when this activity stands between them and the dining hall.

I liked this suggestion because it promotes student activity and a solution to something we sometimes struggle with–helping students see themselves in the work we are doing. 

Finally, just a reminder that we are still soliciting feedback on our summer programming through tonight at 11:59pm. Please help us better understand your needs by filling out this brief survey.

Zach Justus
Director of Faculty Development
Professor of Communication Arts and Sciences
Google Voice/Text: 530-487-4150

All past Tuesday Tips are curated on the FDEV website.

The Strike

The scheduled strike to start the Spring 2024 term is of great concern for us all. This tip is dedicated to some advice about navigating this time of uncertainty. 

First, be transparent with your students. They have a lot of anxiety about what a work stoppage would mean for their semester and whether they are supposed to go to class next week. You should be sending them an announcement through Canvas this week about what your plan is. Consider including information about whether your class will meet and your availability to answer questions. I would also recommend some transparency about why you are doing what you are doing. Students should also know many campus services they rely on like the WellCat Health Center and the Food Pantry will be open. 

Second, if you have questions about your rights please reach out to your local CFA contact or consult the FAQ on the CFA website and the email from Faculty Affairs on 1/9. 

Finally, I will be on strike as a faculty member for the first week of the semester unless a resolution is reached. I will not be replying to work related emails or inquiries while I am on strike. The FDEV office will be open and is reachable at fdev@csuchico.edu

In Solidarity,

Zach Justus
Director of Faculty Development
Professor of Communication Arts and Sciences
Google Voice/Text: 530-487-4150

Tools for Spring

Faculty start work on their spring courses at different times and with different needs. For those of you preparing now, we want to highlight a couple of asynchronous faculty development resources.

We have a robust set of teaching guides developed by campus experts on everything from Teaching with Case Studies to Culturally Responsive Teaching. Check out the full, searchable and sortable, FDEV Teaching Guides list to get help with your prep for the spring semester. 

We also developed an asynchronous Canvas course with a step-by-step guide to course revision in the world of generative AI. The world has changed, and this will help you change with it. Enroll in the course at a time that works best for you.

Zach Justus
Director of Faculty Development
Professor of Communication Arts and Sciences
Google Voice/Text: 530-487-4150

Universal Design for Learning: You Are on Your Way Already!

The main portion of this tip is brought to you by Dr. Jamie Gunderson from the School of Education and a READI Equity Fellow through Faculty Development.

Here’s an interesting insight – chances are you’re already incorporating Universal Design for Learning (UDL) into your teaching methods, even if you’re not consciously aware of it. What is UDL? UDL is an educational framework that aims to create inclusive and flexible learning environments by providing learners with options to engage, represent, and express learning. How am I already implementing UDL? Well, consider if you incorporate peer discussions or collaborative group activities in your lessons. These practices promote collaboration and a sense of community, in line with UDL Checkpoint 8.3. Are you using tools like Canvas or other technologies to share information, interact with your learners, or enhance their engagement? This is a form of using multimedia for communication, as outlined in UDL Checkpoint 5.1. The UDL framework encourages us to reflect on how our existing teaching methods align with UDL’s principles, guidelines, and checkpoints to support all learners.

Another aspect of UDL that I find particularly appealing is its commitment to evidence-based continuous improvement. Did you know that the UDL principles, guidelines, and checkpoints are regularly reviewed, revised, and updated based on ongoing research and feedback from practitioners? Currently, there is a strong emphasis on enhancing equity, diversity, and inclusion, which you can explore further by looking into the UDL Rising to Equity initiative. As soon as the updated framework becomes available, I’ll make sure to share it with our campus community. In the meantime, I encourage you to kickstart or continue your journey towards UDL and equity, diversity, and inclusion by exploring the abundant resources on the Instruction page of the READI Hub, a repository sponsored by the Office of Faculty Development. You’re likely to discover numerous strategies and ideas that will benefit your teaching practices and some that you may already be implementing – kudos! 

For more tips, and resources, or to geek out on all things UDL, please contact Jamie Linn Gunderson at jlgunderson@csuchico.edu.

Additionally, we in FDEV want to highlight another great resource from the NCFDD library. We spend a lot of time as tenure-track faculty working towards tenure and promotion, but not enough time thinking about what happens when you get there. Last Spring NCFDD hosted two panel discussions on what happens after earning tenure and one on promotion to full professor. You have to sign up for NCFDD (which you have free access to for this year), but once you do you will have access to an incredible catalog of useful resources for your classroom and professional development. 

Last thing, remember we have a host of opportunities for faculty this Winter and into Spring. Check them out and find something that will help you.

Zach Justus
Interim Director of Faculty Development
Professor of Communication Arts and Sciences
Google Voice/Text: 530-487-4150

Teaching Climate Change & Resilience

The main portion of this tip is brought to you by Dr. Mark Stemen, from Geography and Planning.

Over Spring 2022, 65 CSU faculty redesigned over 75 courses to include greater engagement of climate change and resilience, immediately affecting the education of thousands of students across the CSU the following year, including over 900 students on our campus alone. 

The CSU Teaching Climate Change & Resilience (TCCR) Faculty Learning Community (FLC) was first offered in Spring 2022 through the Office of Faculty Development

Since then, the FLC has been featured in the Chronicle of Higher Education and has received the Campus Sustainability Achievement Award by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE), and most recently received recognition from the American Association of State Colleges and Universities

In Spring 2024 the FLC will be offered again, with the support of Chico State’s Office of the President, the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences, and the Office of the Chancellor’s Innovative Teaching & Learning Programs. The FLC will be open to all 23 CSU campuses and aligns with the California State University Sustainability Policy, which “is intended to position the nation’s largest university system as a leader in the teaching and use of applied research to educate climate literate students.” 

This FLC is designed with busy and burdened faculty in mind. The five sessions are only 90 minutes long, and each will help faculty step by step to easily incorporate climate change and resilience into a course they teach. Our goal is to connect faculty with a broad range of approaches and ideas, as well as resources that are well-researched, relevant, and relatable to their discipline; lots of resources.  

The five Zoom sessions on Tuesdays from 9:00-10:30 a.m. 

This FLC also offers the rare opportunity to connect with colleagues across the system. The FLC will be entirely over Zoom, allowing us to organize breakout rooms based on discipline. We found when we used disciplinary breakout rooms, the sessions became more productive and transformative for faculty.  As one participant remarked, “It felt like the department I always wanted. Everyone believed in climate change and they all wanted to help.” 

The FLC application is due by December 15, 2023. All faculty are welcome to apply.
Additionally, we in FDEV want to point you toward a timely NCFDD resource. Many faculty have been personally impacted by the tragic situation in Israel and Gaza. In addition, many faculty are encountering conversations about this situation in the classroom. In 2020 Dr. Chavella Pittman was featured in a webinar on Preparing for Difficult or Controversial Conversations as part of their Empowered Teaching Toolkit. You have to sign up for NCFDD (which you have free access to for this year), but once you do you will have access to an incredible catalog of useful resources for your classroom and professional development.

Zach Justus
Interim Director of Faculty Development
Professor of Communication Arts and Sciences
Google Voice/Text: 530-487-4150