Individual Growth and Development

Team and Institutional Context »

The Faculty as Change Agents program sought to support faculty Change Agents' growth as instructors and leaders so that they could have a greater impact on their students and in their programs, departments, institutions, and regional networks.

Tania-Maria Anders, Mt. San Antonio College

At the beginning of our project I focused on expanding my instructional practices. The main reasons I was inspired to do this were: the topic was focus of our earliest webinars and workshops I was able to attend through SAGE 2YC, and my desire to adjust my teaching from a more traditional lectures style common at 4YCs (where I had taught for nearly 15 years) to approaches more suited to best serve 2YC students. Over the course of the last year I developed hands-on activities for nearly every chapter of the Oceanography textbook we use on our campus. As I share these activities with colleagues, in particular our part-time instructors, I am refining and improving the activities based on suggestions, inspiration, and feedback. We now have a core group of faculty who are using at least some of the activities regularly. The activities are designed to take between 20-50 minutes each and allow for a class structure where students are exposed to new material during the first class meeting of the week and enrichment the other. I call this my "mini flipped classroom". Even the lecture heavier days have been modified. I now have students review the chapter material (via posted publishers PPT slides, their textbook, and worksheets I provide) before class with the requirement of bringing three questions about the material they need clarification on ("Please help me understand....better." "Could you please explain graph...."). We begin the class with student table groups answering each other's questions as they can. Each table then provides me with one question and I structure my lecture around their primary learning needs. My students enjoy my classes despite the rigor. At this point I am still basing this on non-formative assessment from student comments (I have even gotten "Today's class was fun" as a comment written on board). I plan on doing formative assessment regarding the benefits (or not) of teaching using this class approach after this semester, which is the first one with solid implementation of my new teaching style.

Outside the classroom I am most proud of my growth in the area of leadership. I had been used to taking on leadership roles at my former institution, but being the new kid on the block (I am now in my fourth year at MtSAC) came with the realization that it takes a while for people across campus to get to know new faculty and the values for which one stands. I am excited that at this point I feel closer to where I had left off at my former institution. People once again approach me to contribute in areas they know I feel passionate about. I have been able to grow the visibility of our oceanography "program," one of the tasks that came with my new position and focus of our SAGE 2YC project. I have made strong connections in the regional geological community, which has led to valuable collaborations like the exchange of guest speakers, joint field trips, etc. I am active in our Guided Pathways Initiative where I am collaborating with Mark and others to increase the visibility of this initiative on our campus. And most recently, I was appointed co-chair of the Faculty Professional Development Council on our campus. This position will allow me to greatly broaden my contributions on campus. The SAGE 2YC project leaders and other teams have been a strong support network without which I would not have achieved my goals as quickly as I have. The numerous advice, in particular where to find resources, who might be a valuable contact, the not having to reinvent the wheel (for example for the workshop organization and registration process for participants), and food for thought have greatly contributed to my growth.

Mark Boryta, Mt. San Antonio College

I am most proud of the outcomes from our 2019 workshop! We had a small, powerful and focused group of 14 faculty, including a program coordinator, in attendance. The covert goals of the workshop were to create a network among these people, and to convince them that we can create a more visible program in Ocean Sciences for our students. This project gave me the tools and underlying sense of how to do this. For example, before attending a project-sponsored COACh workshop, I had never thought about growing a small network of interested colleagues who can then work together to make bigger changes happen.

I now realize that my many years of interacting and collaborating with NAGT, GSA, and other organizations had resulted in a veritable treasure trove of addresses to mine. In order to assemble this group, I sent personal messages to people that I thought might have some particularly insightful contributions as well as some "skin in the game." I invited the author of our current Oceanography text, deans and chairs of departments, and faculty who participate in groups focused on educational issues (2YC, GED, etc.) Then I and my partner, Tania Anders, culled addresses from geology, oceanography, and marine biology departments in southern California. I learned that I should give more lead time for such invitations, but several of those who could not make it are still anxious to be a part of the newly-formed and energetic team.

In order to harness the energy and keep the momentum, it was important to me that the group come up with a name. We decided on "SoCal Seas," with all the allusions, inferences, and double-meanings fully intended. We also agreed that a follow-up workshop would be essential, and that it shall be less formal and include a field excursion. We will begin planning for it very soon, so that everyone can present the progress they have made on their "action plans."

While participating in this project, I became better prepared to take advantage of a new opportunity at my college, that of faculty professional development coordinator for the Guided Pathways for Success (GPS) Initiative. Participating in the GPS work has introduced me to a wide range of other people from all areas of the college - vice presidents, counselors, deans, etc. - all with associated synergies and ideas about how to aid students in their varied quests to move forward with their educational goals. So what happened in SAGE 2YC that helped me? The work that we did in thinking about how students learn differently, and hear things differently, and come from different backgrounds and situations all got me thinking about how to help my college address the challenges we face as educators and support people from across campus.