This post was composed by Theresa Moore, PhD, KCELT Faculty Development Specialist.
The Teacher as Designer Institute was modeled with the intention to be a microcosm of the curriculum taught in the second year of the Master Teacher Program, the learning community for new full-time faculty. The content in this area is wide and dense. The goals that we asked of faculty – to reflect on on one’s identity (as that of designer), and then operationalize on it (design or redesign student learning solutions) in two days based on a curriculum that is deployed over the course of one year was a set up for huge esoteric leaps for many. How do faculty trainers ask faculty to reconsider their identities, to form new habits of mind, and execute reframed practices in the classroom? How do we do this during the tenure of their careers, nevermind within a 12 hour professional development timespan?
Therefore, while I think there were great gains for faculty that were present – and which are reiterated in the feedback we received – the experience gave me pause to reconsider KCELT’s philosophy of professional development, in general. The concept of participatory learning is not a new one. From what I am told and have read, Ed Camp is an exemplary model of participatory learning gone wild. It is a highly engaging experience and affords deep learning experiences for participants. The entire event is participant driven. The KCELT Team will attend the next Ed Camp in Iowa to get a sense for how this approach to learning is deployed. I do so with great deal of curiosity but also, I admit, levels of skepticism and trepidation regarding how (and if) we should apply aspects of this model here at Kirkwood.
Can we emulate some aspects of Ed Camp into our professional development model here in KCELT? This is certainly not what faculty are accustomed to when they think of KCELT learning offerings; it is not a part of the cultural norm expected of us as a department. Can we really plan for an Institute without planning? An oxymoron, is it not? How much do we organize and deploy, and how much do we leave up to the participants? Essentially – how much control are we willing to give up, and how much risk are we willing to take? These are all daunting considerations for me, but ones that I also believe that we as KCELT are beholden to consider if we are truly vested in the quality of our learning offerings. Even with the best intentions, we may be somewhat missing the mark.
KCELT’s primary goal is to meet the professional development needs of faculty, and we would love to hear from faculty who share similar or different ideas and opinions to ours. Please send us an email or leave a comment on this post.