The Strategic Planning committee for IE3 conducted a survey which asked the following questions about professional development here at Victoria College:
- What training/information would have been useful when you were hired?
- What types of training/information would be useful for your ongoing job performance?
- What changes would cause/allow you to participate in professional development activities at VC more frequently?
The responses to these questions indicate VC employees feel professional development must improve in a few areas. For example, several comments focused on a need for more professional development for staff. This is a valid concern as I immediately think of improving learning in the classroom when I think of student success, maybe because so much of my life has focused on teaching and learning. However, we know all employees have the opportunity to impact student success, and we should do a better job providing those employees with appropriate professional development opportunities.
Another group of comments focused on the limitations of CAPE in general. Yes, we all have our specialties, but we are mostly generalists. I know quite a bit about teaching and learning in general and very little about history, nursing, chemistry or statistics. And, although I have not taught many years at the college level, I do have 18 years of teaching experience. My content has changed since I taught public school, but my teaching methods and pedagogical knowledge is still valid. I regularly improve as a teacher in many ways, and I credit my job at CAPE with allowing me to learn even more about teaching and learning.
However, I also understand the concerns behind these comments. There is no way that any of us here at CAPE (or all of us together) could ever meet each and every one of your professional learning needs. In the best case scenario, we provide general information; information we hope everyone adapts to their own content, needs, and teaching styles. Beyond that, when we aren’t satisfying your learning needs, please talk to us! We like face to face conversations best. Although, if you’re shy, just let us know what you need via one of our surveys! Of course, not every workshop at CAPE fits into every schedule on campus.
A few years ago, I felt a little stifled by the dearth of information about teaching at the collegiate level. As it turns out, I simply wasn’t looking in the right places. I discovered a great many college professors are prolific on Twitter and many have their own blogs. I’ve been following these academics, most with numerous years in collegiate teaching, and learning valuable information from them. There are hashtags such as #ScholarSunday, created by Dr. Raul Pacheco-Vega (@raulpacheco), which is a great place to start. I’m sure that they even have specific scholarly hashtags in specific fields as well.
Another new avenue for me is the podcast. I’m not typically an auditory learner, but I’ve recently started listening to podcasts as I get ready for work in the morning and on my lengthy 7 minute commute to the office. I started with Teaching in Higher Ed and Coaching for Leaders and have discovered many others as recommended in blogs or on these very podcasts. I now also subscribe to ReLearning, You’ve Got This, Leading Lines, Research in Action, Student Caring and a few others. This surprises me because the first search I did for podcasts in higher education yielded no results. The best solution I found was to find a blog or podcast advertising other podcasts (like this one, for example). Once I found one I liked, it was easy to find others based on the same topics.
You may notice all of these suggestions are focused on teaching and learning. That’s because it’s what I explore and know. Just like the areas of teaching I explore may not be directly related to our faculty’s teaching disciplines – yet are adaptable, so too the twitter feeds and podcasts as professional learning are adaptable to your needs. For your interests, I’m sure you will find free professional learning opportunities. When you do, if you would like to share the resources you find, I’d be happy to post them here for others to enjoy!