Cohort 3 Leadership Extension

Don Barrie and Waverly Ray of the team from San Diego Mesa 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

Don Barrie

  • Deeper appreciation for the benefits of collaboration to support panel discussions and workshops
  • Improved workshop facilitation skills that draw others in to contribute their expertise
  • More student-oriented approach to teaching to mentor and coach students

Waverly Ray

  • Co-hosted professional learning workshops that helped build community connections
  • Gained confidence as a leader
  • Able to recognize Bolman and Deal's leadership frames and their value in achieving shared goals

Activity Report

Activity Plan

This semester, we facilitated five activities, including three faculty workshops and two faculty/student panels:

  • Workshop #1--Science Identities Workshop. Goals for this workshop included learning how to develop our students' multiple science identities and recognizing the benefits of this. Example assignments were shared to give participants a basis for developing their own assignments.
  • Workshop #2--Geoscience Careers in Curricula.  Goals for this workshop included discussion of how to infuse geoscience careers into course curricula and consideration of how mentoring and recruitment strategies help diversify the geosciences.  Example assignments were shared to give participants a basis for developing their own assignments.
  • Panel #1--Career Opportunities in Geoscience. Co-sponsored with our Office of Work-Based Learning, this panel discussion featured three early-career geoscientists, a student moderator, and student/faculty participants.
  • Panel #2--Transfer Pathways in Geography, Geology, and GIS.  This panel discussion featured the undergraduate advisors from San Diego State University (SDSU).  Panelists discussed transfer strategies and pathways as well as fielding questions from geoscience faculty and students.
  • Workshop #3--Next Steps Brainstorming Session.  As a follow-up to this semester's previous activities, this informal workshop provided an opportunity for participants to discuss next steps for the fall 2021 semester and beyond.

Collectively, these activities sought to engage geoscience faculty and students in an effort to cultivate a stronger geoscience identity in our district as well as serve as a basis for future collaborations.  We engaged participants by designing our activities to be highly interactive, similar in format to the spring 2021 SAGE 2YC workshops we attended.  In reflecting on our activities, we attribute their success mostly to the productive discussions among participants during each activity.  Many excellent ideas were shared and discussed, and participants reported in their post-activity feedback that they derived great value from the activities--mostly because they provided a forum in which to listen to others and share ideas.


Together, our five activities enabled us to cultivate a stronger sense of collaboration among geoscience faculty at all three colleges in our District.  Participants were given many opportunities to share their own teaching practices, discuss challenges, and learn from one another.  In terms of what's different now than before, we feel that the geoscience faculty in our district now know one another better.  There's more of a sense that we're not alone in our efforts to improve the quality of our programs, and we're more aware of the resources at our disposal.  In terms of practice, faculty are already sharing such resources more freely.  In addition, we've already begun to make plans for the future.  As an example, we've decided to run a Geoscience Careers panel every year from now on.  In addition, we've expanded our online Geoscience Teaching Toolbox (Canvas shell), adding more teaching resources as we go, to better support innovative teaching practices in our District.

Participant feedback has been overwhelmingly positive.  Several participants reported that they've really appreciated the opportunity to talk with geoscience colleagues, share ideas, listen to others' perspectives, and challenge themselves to grow professionally.

Lessons Learned

In terms of what worked well, just getting everyone together to talk with one another was perhaps the most important outcome of this semester's activities.  The highly interactive nature of each activity proved quite successful.  In this respect, as facilitators we really benefited from having effective workshop practice modeled to us via the SAGE 2YC workshops we attended ourselves this semester. 

Another aspect of this semester's activities that worked especially well was the high level of collaboration among our on-campus and university partners.  For example, the person we worked with from our Office of Work-Based Learning proved to be highly skilled at running the Geoscience Careers Panel.  We learned a lot from her about how to make such events student-focused.  She also taught us how to create a detailed participant feedback form, allowing us to collect useful data from the event.  Likewise, our university partners told us how much they appreciated the opportunity to discuss transfer pathways.  Although we were already closely aligned with SDSU, the transfer pathways workshop helped cement this partnership, keeping it strong for the future. 

What would we do differently?  One thing that comes to mind for the future is to expand the scope of future activities to include in-field, outside workshops.  Perhaps participants could all visit a site of geologic and geographic significance, sharing ideas about the unique challenges and rewards of field-based teaching and learning.  Something else we'd like to do in the future is to secure more workshop funding, especially for adjunct instructors.  Given the unique challenges that come with being an adjunct instructor, more funding would definitely help with broader participation among geoscience faculty across our District.

To other teams contemplating something similar to what we did, we'd emphasize the importance of keeping things interactive.  Rather than having a dozen PowerPoint slides in a workshop, for example, try culling things down to four or five.  Create Zoom polls, JamBoards, or Kahoot exercises for participants (most people love these).  Do whatever you can to get people talking.

The educators who attended our activities were themselves highly skilled and experienced.  Creating opportunities for people to share their ideas is perhaps the best piece of advice we can give.  In addition, we'd suggest, for panel discussions, keeping things student-focused.  Consider training a student to be the moderator, for example.  Likewise, instead of developing panelist questions oneself, try asking students what questions they have.  Then, curate and compile these questions before passing them along to the student moderator and panelists.  This worked really well for us.

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