Let’s hear it!

Contributed by Humanities and English Faculty, Amy Young

First of all, I am so very grateful for my fantastic colleagues and the college system.  It is truly impressive how everyone has come together to make things work in these surreal circumstances, and I am likewise grateful for the unprecedented outpouring of reassurance, collaboration, and support I’ve seen and received over the past few weeks. Still, while I was finding comfort in the warm, fuzzy security of capability there, I started to wonder what, in addition to their concerns and questions, the students in my classes might want to share. Might they want an opportunity to be problem solvers too?

I had this in mind when I attended a webinar wherein faculty shared resources and ideas for assisting students and each other with the transition to online learning.  I was curious how faculty had been communicating with their students and what they had been hearing from them, and what was interesting was that students were not only sharing their hardships and fears, but they were also sharing their ideas.

Yes, now is the time to be compassionate and flexible, and we should absolutely check-in to assuage student doubts, but there are also a good number of students who are ready to get to work, who want to problem solve, and who (like us) have an urge to help and who are ready to engage.  For instance, after receiving suggestions from a number of students via email,  I sent a Doodle poll to all of the students in my classes surveying them about their engagement preferences as we transition to online. Within two days, I had over 50 responses, all of them either eager to have virtual meetings or willing to attend when their schedules permitted (now, three days later, I have still only had one student decline to meet online).

Of course, we will continue to look out for those students (and colleagues) who are struggling with the stress and uncertainty of these times; this situation is not ideal for any of us, and we are incredibly fortunate to have so many people around us ready to help. But perhaps it’s just as important to give students an opportunity to problem solve, to get creative, to feel like they’re contributing, and to have a positive voice, too.

A Note from Professional Development:

Want to make your own Doodle poll? Here is the Doodle website.

The volume of information that is being sent and received can be overwhelming.  Please refer to the Resources Page for more information.  While your transitioned course may not be perfect, your students need a quality, flexible course.  The greater message from LSC to all students is: “As we move closer to opening campus and resuming all classes April 13, we are going to be supportive and understanding in all that you’re dealing with. We’re here for you.”

Ask any questions you may have!

What is pedagogy?

Kristie Boston, MA – Faculty Fellow for Professional Development

One challenge for faculty in higher education is understanding pedagogy. Unlike most K-12 educators, higher ed faculty may not engage in education courses that cover topics such as pedagogy, teaching philosophies, student engagement, classroom management, and lesson planning. Often, we enter the classroom arena armed with our content expertise, passion for life-long learning, and the belief that students enrolled in college are there to learn.

Entering the classroom, we attempt our first lesson, maybe our second. Sometimes they are highly successful, other times they are not. Even on the same day, different classes will engage with the material with more or less enthusiasm. When we speak about this in the hallways with our colleagues, conversations often center around “why.” Why did these students absorb the material but not these? Why did this lesson work but not the other one?

When students aren't listening in my class: Are you not entertained?

Often the answers can be found within the discipline of pedagogy. Pedagogy is the study of the method and practice of teaching and covers teaching styles, teaching theory and philosophy, and feedback and assessment. Essentially pedagogy refers to the ways in which instructors provide curriculum to students. This is informed primarily by an instructor’s personal experience, beliefs, and the context and institution in which they teach.

As an introduction to thinking about pedagogy and education, and in line with our culture of innovation at University Park, watch the following presentation “What makes pedagogy radical?” by Harriet Harriss.

As you consider your approach to teaching, i.e., your pedagogy, remember there is a wide spectrum of teaching philosophies that range all the way back to Aristotle. These frameworks move from teacher-centered or “authoritarian” to student-centered or “permissive.” While the examples below are not even close to representing the full list of educational philosophies, they are ones that contain bodies of research and represent a swath of contemporary conversations on best practices and student success.

Teaching philosophies range from teacher-centered, such as essentialism and perennialism, to student-centered, such as progressivism, social reconstruction, and existentialism.
Spectrum of Teaching Philosophies

Important Disclaimer: You do not have to be wholly one philosophy! There is no box to place yourself in and often instructors will adapt the philosophies into a hybrid that suits the needs of the students and purpose of the content on any given day. No philosophy is “good” or “bad” – but it is important to recognize and understand your own pedagogical preferences and how they align with your content, student success, and institutional expectations.

Are you curious about where you fall in this spectrum? I was too! And of course, I wanted to know more about the five pedagogical approaches listed in this spectrum. (I promise that’s coming soon!)

So, here is a short “What is your Philosophy?” Part 1 questionnaire: What is Your Philosophy of Education

When you finish this, hold onto it! The second part, where you will actually interpret your scores, is coming soon to a blog post near you.

Stay tuned for what your scores mean and more details about the different teaching philosophies.

Faculty Qualities of Excellence

Kristie Boston, MA – Faculty Fellow for Professional Development with contributions from Ericka Landry, Ed.D. – Director of Faculty Development

While you may have heard the phrase “Faculty Qualities of Excellence” (FQEs), it is time to clarify and reflect on these qualities as we move into 2020. First, and most importantly, these qualities were determined by faculty for faculty. They were driven by dedicated faculty with insight into best practices and passionate instruction. They connect closely with the tenets of integrity, student-focused education, and pedagogically based foundations of instruction. They exemplify the Lone Star College expectations for faculty.

There are five parts of the FQEs: a preamble and the four qualities. Each part is important and represents a facet of excellence demonstrated by faculty at LSC.

PDF link available by selecting image

The Faculty Senate Presidents (shout out to Dave Gaer!) have created a video to discuss the FQEs and it is worth watching!

FQEs with the Faculty Senate Presidents

Moving forward, UP faculty professional development opportunities will highlight each of the FQEs. Each session offered will indicate the FQEs that are emphasized, the Innovation Conversations will tag the appropriate FQEs, and additional opportunities to explore and develop these qualities in your own practices will be available.

We welcome your comments and questions, but especially your indication of which of the FQEs you’d like additional assistance in exploring and understanding in the upcoming semesters.