Monday, August 24, 2009

Faculty Staff Conference

The faculty staff conference was last week, lasting officially 1.5 days, but I participated in more that that. Previous to the conference was a teaching in service that was hosted by a department and featured the invited speaker. It was an all day affair involving things to think about when setting up a course and modifying a course. This is mostly big picture stuff, but some of it was helpful. In addition was a quick view of learning styles: two versions. This was most helpful to me. I'd heard the learning style thing bandied about, but not really ever defined explicitly. Like many other things about teaching, I was not trained for these things in my Ph.D. program at Urban Med Center or Prestigious Foreign Postdoc. The learning theory vocabulary was pretty foreign to me, or at least I had a very shallow understanding of it all when I arrived. Like someone who types a lot, but has never learned explicitly to touch type, I have been using a form of these things, but never understood them fully. And ironically, I probably don't need the vocabulary to improve learning in my classroom, at least for now, but I do need it in all of the reports I write to admin and for promotions, and discussions I have with people who could make a difference in my career.

My new faculty orientation four years ago offered NO help in learning theory / pedagogy, because I suppose not all new faculty are new teachers. It was "big picture issues" and college / church history, and that we are to integrate our faith into our teaching (but not how). We read a lot of philosophy, rich with the vocabulary of the humanities (I have NEVER seem so many isms in my life), which I found isolating and frustrating. Its seemed like much to do about nothing. ugh.

OK, so the fact that I've been here 4 years and FINALLY this year, I was able to attend a session on "how to teach" AND a session on " how to use the electronic tools at the university like Blackboard" was wayyyyy over due, so I was very glad for them. Both sessions were optional. It seems backward. Now I care more about institutional goals and integrating them into my teaching, whereas my first year, I just needed to survive the lectures, labs, grading, and institutional paperwork. Now I want to shape students for the future.

No comments:

Post a Comment