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K-State Today

September 3, 2015



Where are you in the lifespan of teaching?

By Jana Fallin

The Teaching & Learning Center promotes innovation and effectiveness in our teaching through a variety of programs and events. We like to say that our center covers the lifespan of a teacher.

As teachers, our professional development needs change throughout our career. Faculty who are on the tenure track require different types of support than tenured faculty who have been teaching for many years. Brand new hires have a different set of needs than graduate teaching assistants.

The goal of the K-State Teaching & Learning Center is to find ways to meet these varying needs as we fulfill our mission to encourage, support and promote excellence in teaching and learning across the university. Designing life span teaching programs is one of the center’s objectives as we assist our faculty at each stage of their teaching career.

The New Faculty Institute, or NFI, provides information about our university that will help a person navigate through their early years as a K-State faculty member and assists with retention of faculty. The institute is an excellent venue for new faculty to network and establish long-lasting relationships with colleagues in other disciplines. The programs involve people in leadership roles on campus, including presentations by President Schulz and Provost Mason. A program about the tenure process is one of the most popular luncheon meetings, as is the program from iTAC about the services available to new professors. Karen Large, kmlarge@k-state.edu, is the new coordinator for the institute and follows Esther Swilley who provided two years of excellent leadership for our new faculty personnel.

The GTA Professional Development Program helps K-State graduate students who are teaching at the university. This demographic is very knowledgeable in their curricular areas, but often have few experiences in designing lessons, assessing learning or teaching. A yearlong series of teaching events presented by successful K-State faculty members is scheduled to assist GTAs. When graduate students attend a professional development event, they receive a “punch” on their attendance card. Students who attend a specified number of events and agree to be observed while teaching will receive recognition at the last meeting. Directing this two-year-old program is Whitney Jeter, wjeter@k-state.edu, a GTA in the Teaching & Learning Center and the 2015 recipient of the Presidential Award in Undergraduate Teaching by a graduate teaching assistant. The GTA Professional Development Program is well attended and very popular among the GTAs, who recognize the need for help with their teaching. This group is grateful for the pointers and strategies learned from expert, experienced professors on campus. Manpreet Rai, former GTA for the center, currently an assistant professor of psychology at D’Youville College in Buffalo, New York, helped design the GTA Professional Development Program for K-State.

The PEER Review of Teaching Program helps those faculty members who are a several years into their teaching career by matching them with experienced-faculty mentors. The teams meet several times to discuss teaching and learning, observe each other teaching and meet to share notes about their observations. The final project is the development of a portfolio that documents their teaching through course assignments, student work examples, notes from the observations and a reflective essay. Lisa Tatonetti, who served for two years as coordinator is handing over the leadership of the program to Kara Northway, northway@k-state.edu.

Our largest program is the Faculty Exchange for Teaching Excellence, or FETE, which is dedicated to the enhancement of teaching and learning at K-State. Ann Stalheim Smith, a university distinguished teaching scholar emeritus from the Division of Biology founded this program in 1997. The program plans a mid-year teaching and learning event open to all K-State faculty and graduate students. In addition, several smaller events are scheduled throughout the year where K-State faculty and experts from other institutions share expertise and passion for enhancing student learning. The Year of the Brain was sponsored in part by this program. Cathie Lavis, clavis@k-state.edu, provides leadership for FETE.

Two years ago we added a Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, or SoTL, Program to assist faculty who desire to design, conduct and disseminate research using their own teaching situations. Kimberly Williams, kwilliam@ksu.edu, coordinator for the program, is developing information for our Teaching & Learning Center website, and also planning events to help faculty in this area of research.

Our newest program is the Invested Faculty group for those who have taught for more than 20 years. Approximately half of our teaching faculty fit into this demographic. Although traditionally many teaching workshops and events are focused on beginning faculty, our desire is devoted to helping our mid- to late-career faculty remain vital and energized throughout their teaching careers. We are working on mentoring possibilities from this group, and target them for presentations and attendance at center events. One faculty from this group said, "2025 will succeed because we are pushing it." As you can see from this comment, faculty in this group are often highly involved with the K-State community and believe that their contributions are helpful, even vital, to the success of the university. Currently, the coordinator position for Invested Faculty is open. Anyone interested?

It is an honor to work with these groups through the Teaching & Learning Center at Kansas State University. The teaching community at K-State spans a wide range of interests, areas and years in the field, and remains very supportive of each other.

Watch for our upcoming events in K-State Today and put these dates on your calendar. You will learn, enjoy and leave with new ideas from our lifespan approach to teaching and learning.