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.

6 thoughts on “Reflection on Teacher as Designer Institute

  1. Thank you for sharing this, Theresa! When I think of offering faculty development sessions, I start with what I think works well in the credit classes I teach. I think people (whether faculty or students) benefit from knowing what to expect and from the instructor having some sort of plan up front. And I am tightly wound. So it’s unlikely that I would be able to cut loose enough to benefit from the Ed Camp model. On the other hand, when I went through the new teacher program in 2006-2007 through KCELT, I found it extremely helpful to have unstructured conversations with the faculty members in my cohort about various challenges we faced in the classroom. Various issues with students, although they didn’t come up often, were the most challenging aspects of my work, and I benefited from hearing that I wasn’t alone. My colleagues gave me ideas about what to do differently, which battles to fight, how to decompress outside of work, etc. For the interactions I’m referring to, there was no syllabus, no reading material, no schedule, and no defined outcomes, yet the result (for me, at least) was greater commitment to the job, less burnout, and better teaching.

    In short, I think there is value in different kinds of activities. What the more structured and less structured activities have in common is that they put faculty members together. This job can be isolating, in the sense that we might be around students all day, but do not always have to interact with our peers in order to get our work done. I think that high-quality faculty development opportunities are those that build relationships among colleagues and that meet whatever needs the participants have at that time.

  2. I think it is vital to find ways to continue student engagement. It is great to have a workshop or institute or initiative. But several quetions need to be raised “what happens next” and ” how can I use this knowledge in the classroom” Finally I need to know the level of support. I am always appreciative of the opportunity to try something new. But “what’s next???”

  3. I think it is vital to find ways to continue student engagement. It is great to have a workshop or institute or initiative. But several quetions need to be raised “what happens next” and ” how can I use this knowledge in the classroom” Finally I need to know the level of support. I am always appreciative of the opportunity to try something new. But “what’s next???”

  4. I think it is vital to find ways to continue student engagement. It is great to have a workshop or institute or initiative. But several quetions need to be raised “what happens next” and ” how can I use this knowledge in the classroom” Finally I need to know the level of support. I am always appreciative of the opportunity to try something new. But “what’s next???”

  5. I thiink it is great to learn innovative ways to engage our students. However a basic question should be asked,”what happens next??? KCELT has offered some great programs. But faculty need opportunities to continue to practice what they learn. You can’t have a one or two session conference and then move on to the next challenge. Faculty need to stay engaged

  6. I thiink it is great to learn innovative ways to engage our students. However a basic question should be asked,”what happens next??? KCELT has offered some great programs. But faculty need opportunities to continue to practice what they learn. You can’t have a one or two session conference and then move on to the next challenge. Faculty need to stay engaged

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