Cohort 3 Leadership Extension

Amanda Colosimo of the team from Monroe Community College participated in the extension of Cohort 3 that focused in helping Change Agents improve their leadership skills.

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Leadership Accomplishments and Lessons Learned

  • Joined two campus-wide groups (teaching support group; Guided Pathways Committee) that provided a venue to share SAGE 2YC activities
  • Tapped for expanded leadership role on these two campus-wide groups
  • Understand the power of teamwork that includes others interested in similar goals

Activity Report

Activity Plan

Planned Activities:

  1. March Syllabus Discussion- March 24, 2021- 32 participants
    1. Collaborated with two people from different disciplines to attract a wider audience and advertised using the Teaching and Creativity Center (TCC)
    2. One-hour workshop on guiding principles, brief discussion, and "the good, the bad, and the ugly" of syllabi
    3. College-wide audience from all divisions
  2. Department Equity Group- Monthly starting December 2020- 10 of 15 department faculty members
    1. Group met monthly with agenda, goals, and follow-up
    2. Rotated leadership of this group for continued engagement
    3. Developed departmental inclusivity statement and sought feedback from department and chief diversity officer
  3. College-wide "Extreme Syllabus Makeover"- June 4, 2021; 60 participants
    1. Collaborated again with two individuals from different disciplines
    2. 75-minute workshop where participants are given guiding principles and time to edit their syllabi, with assistance from session leaders, to examine the equity of course policies, tone, and level of jargon


March Syllabus Discussion- March 24, 2021- 32 participants- Description below

TCC Conversation, March 24: "Reducing Barriers and Improving Student Persistence through Supportive Syllabi"

Please join us on Wednesday, March 24, for the second of three spring 2021 conversations centered on our theme of Committing to Equity-Minded Pedagogy. This theme began in the fall with a look at some theory and concepts. This semester, we turn to practices.

Student engagement is a well-known predictor of persistence and success, and course information sheets are our students' first impression of us as educators. Is your course information sheet welcoming to students who may be unsure of their place in college? Are your policies fair and equitable? Do you explain the rationale in your course policies? In this conversation we hope to identify particular areas of a syllabus prone to harsh language and discuss three approaches to improve your own syllabi and make them more welcoming and supportive for students.‚Äč

The Conversation will be facilitated by Amanda Colosimo [Chemistry/Geosciences], Lisa Flick [Biology], and Eric Strong [Applied Technologies].

  1. Relayed the importance of tone, explanation of course policies, and provided examples
  2. Tease June event for a hand's on workshop, as opposed to discussing guiding principles
  3. Feedback/ changes: larger discussion of what was "negotiable" in different classrooms; be flexible where you can, but justify where you hold the line
  4. Was invited to participate in additional panel, described below:

TCC Conversation #3: "Faculty and Student Perspectives on Justice, Race, and Diversity in the Classroom" (12:00-12:50 PM) April 24, 2021

This conversation brings together faculty members Amanda Colosimo [Chemistry & Geosciences], Betty Mandly [Human Services], and Adam Rosen-Carole [Philosophy] to tell us how they have introduced material relating to justice, race, and diversity into their classes and what they have learned from doing so. Students Sheyma Shabna, Jabez Turner, and Eric Wheatley will discuss what they have observed when faculty are deliberate about embedding those topics and materials in their courses. Join the conversation as faculty learn from each other and from our students.

  1. Positive feedback! For example:
    1. Received letter of appreciation in Human Resources file from Provost
    2. Approached by English/Philosophy Department for Geology's process of examining course success rates for similar deep dive in their department
    3. Asked to co-lead Second-Year Faculty Series in 2021-2022, focused on enculturating new faculty and staff to the institution and mission of community colleges

Department Equity Group- Monthly starting December 2020- 10 of 15 department faculty members

  1. Ran two workshops on equity-minded writing in regards to syllabi
  2. Participants workshopped assignments related to scientist spotlights and environmental justice; this work is on-going
  3. With input from chief diversity officer, crafted a departmental statement on inclusivity to be a part of all departmental syllabi going
  4. Developing a repository of equity-based assignments for inspiration
  5. Organized a panel for the Teaching and Creativity Center's Summer Institute, as described below: (85 attendants!)

What does a commitment to equity-minded pedagogy and social justice look like?

In this panel discussion, MCC colleagues will share the important work they and their

departments/service areas have been doing to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) at the College and in the wider community. Panelists will also have the opportunity to discuss specific strategies and practices they have incorporated into their courses, allowing us to see the many forms DEI work takes in different contexts.

The panelists are: Natasha Chen Christianson [Anthrop/History/Poli. Science/Sociology],

Amanda Colosimo [Chemistry/Geosciences], Tokeya Graham [English/Philosophy],

Christina Lee [Global Education & International Services], and Audrey Shafer [Nursing].

College-wide "Extreme Syllabus Makeover: Creating Supportive Syllabi"- June 4, 2021- Description below: (59 attendants)

Making a good first impression with a course information sheet is typically our first chance

to engage students in our courses.  Communication is key; inexperienced students may be

turned off by and not even know what questions to ask if your syllabus is impersonal and

full of punitive language.  If you are looking for ways to build a rapport with your students

by supporting them from Day 1 (regardless of whether you see them face to face or

virtually), then this workshop is for you!  Bring a course information sheet to work on and

we will share examples of revised course policies and student expectations that support

student learning and success.

The event will be facilitated by Amanda Colosimo [Chemistry/Geosciences], Lisa Flick [Biology], and Eric Strong [Applied Technologies].

i) Feedback/changes: Discussion on negotiables and non-negotiables in course policies, identification of jargon in academia, examples of shifts in tone and building partnership in a classroom, whether virtual or in-person

Lessons Learned

Nothing went badly, really. When I co-ran workshops, I did have a few flashbacks to high school. Some people can be better partners than others, but it did not impede the quality of the events, thankfully. I spent enough time thinking deeply about what I wanted to say before these events that I believe I came off as informed, thoughtful, and supportive, without looking like THE DEI expert.

I feel this approach, that we are all works in progress, makes it easier for others to join me down a path, as evidenced by my department's participation in our equity group.  I am actually very proud of the way that group has grown. By alternating leadership at meetings, all members have remained engaged and all have stretched themselves as educators to continue to produce good work. We have created an overarching statement of our beliefs and we are now in the process of developing work in an intentional way that supports those beliefs. Not only that, I feel we have grown as a department and created a safe space where people are free to ask questions that might not always be politically correct. Most of us have worked together for over a decade, but this project has shown me who my colleagues really are, and that is pretty fantastic. Finally, we have discovered similar groups at the College and organized a panel where we could share our work and become inspired by the endeavors of other departments.

In terms of advice, I'd tell anyone engaging in DEI work that it has to be done authentically, knowing that you are going to have to sometimes deal with parts of yourself or your work that you may have been unaware of or do not like. That's part of the work of critically shining a light on your own outcomes and educating yourself. Secondly, in terms of building a "coalition of the willing" at your own institution, you should start where you are. Begin by talking to people about your journey and your challenges, and actually listen to their answers. You will discover more people than you know who see the same problems, and in doing so, your networks can merge. Leverage those networks and produce quality work.

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