It is that time of year. Today is Halloween. Veteran’s Day and Fall Break are around the corner and students are disappearing. Some of them are sick, others are traveling for school or fun, and others may be homesick. Gazing out into a half-full classroom usually fills me with anxiety on a few levels. I’m wondering how the class is going to go, and I’m also dreading the deluge of emails about making up missed work and class time.
One remedy to this annual tradition is to consider an alternative format for your classes. Hyflex classes, where a variety of modalities might be implemented, allow students to have more flexible learning experiences. In a recent episode of the Teaching in Higher Ed podcast thought leader David Rhoads and Bonni Stachowiak made the point that flexible teaching front-loads instructional work and often saves you as the instructor time in the long run because you deal with far fewer edge-cases where students are not in class.
You might have tried this during the pandemic and had a terrible experience, or maybe you tried it and loved it, but it seemed like the momentum on campus was back towards traditional face-to-face teaching. Regardless, we have the tools, experience, and now the research on what works and what does not. Join us for a workshop on Wednesday to explore the ChicoFlex modality and why it might be a good fit for you moving forward.
Why you should attend this workshop and consider ChicoFlex:
Expand enrollment in your program by offering flexible arrangements.
Utilize technology that is already available and in rooms all over campus. No need to write a grant to get what you need.
Lower your workload by preemptively building flexibility for students who are sick or traveling.
Research from our campus and around the country indicates flex arrangements maintain or even expand student success.
November 1, 12-1 p.m. MLIB 045 or Zoom Led by: Katie Mercurio, Tina Lewis, Kathy Fernandes, and Zach Justus
Figure 1: Professor leading a classroom of students with a chalkboard and computer resources
This time of year can be challenging for all of us—but especially for new faculty. The balance of scholarship, teaching, service, and life outside campus can be difficult to maintain even if you have been at it for a long time, but take a minute to recall the time when it was all new. In Faculty Development we have a formal mentoring program run by Susan Wiesinger that provides assigned mentors for new tenure-track faculty and a specialized workshop series for lecturer faculty. However, we acknowledge that the most important mentoring work is almost always informal and local. I want to highlight a few realities of these relationships that I hope you will keep in mind as this semester closes and we look toward Fall 2017.
Lecturer faculty need mentoring too. Lecturers have a dramatic impact on student success as they are often the people called on to teach first-year students and serve in other critical roles. Prioritizing student success means equipping lecturers with research, resources, and drawing on their expertise. It also means engaging them in conversation on effective teaching, research opportunities, and helping them navigate the university. This is a job for all us, regardless of classification. Talk to new lecturer colleagues about professional development like the CELT conference and how to access resources for travel.
Minority faculty face unique challenges, but you do not have to share the same life experience to be helpful. A recent Chronicle article highlighted key strategies for mentoring new minority scholars. I encourage you to read the whole article, but I want to highlight the first piece of advice “Practice cultural humility” and in doing so “demonstrate empathy for the professor’s experience as a faculty member of color in the institution.” In institutions like ours with strong organization culture we are often too quick to bring newcomers up to speed with “how things are done here” without being attentive to other strategies or experiences. Mentoring is mainly learning and listening.
Make a plan and get out there. Writing “be a good mentor” on a post-it note may be a reminder for you, but it is not a plan. Talk with your colleagues and your department/college leadership about what is being done and what is possible, but get started. Make a point to drop by a new colleagues office to ask how things are going, make a trip to a different floor or building to talk to a new lecturer that you have not met, but take the first step in outreaching to your new colleagues.
I am advising this now in hopes of helping our colleagues at the end of the term, but also to compel you to think about how next year could be even better with new faces, new ideas, and new mentoring relationships.
The call for the 23rd annual CELT conference is live! Submit an abstract today to change the world tomorrow—or maybe in October.
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Don’t forget to subscribe to the Caffeinated Cats podcast! Our newest episode is out now! Mary, Tracy, and I are joined by student guest Martin Morales to discuss housing and food insecurity at CSU, Chico. Link to it on soundcloud, itunes, overcast, or follow the podcast on facebook.