Several faculty members have chosen to play significant and unusual roles in Faculty Focused on Teaching: Innovations Week, March 5 through March 9. So far, 11 instructors—representing 15 classes, four academic schools, and all stages of academic careers—have invited their colleagues to observe a class as part of “Teach and Share.” Any other interested faculty members are invited to submit a response to Sue McMillen, director of faculty development, by Wednesday, February 29.
“We’d like to create a culture where we share our teaching practices openly,” said McMillen. “We can all learn from each other.” McMillen hopes that people will visit courses outside their own disciplines.
Inviting observers might seem like a bit of a risk. However, there are benefits, too. “Being vulnerable frees me up to be creative, to learn, and to pioneer,” said John Cabra, associate professor of creative studies. Cabra believes it is important to stay up to date on various pedagogies to meet the learning challenges and opportunities presented by each generation of new students.
Jane Cushman, assistant professor of mathematics, welcomes visitors to her courses. “I think that the method I use to teach problem-solving of mathematics is something others should see and experience,” she said. “I would like to see a variety of teaching methods, so I will be observing other classes, too.”
Innovations Week will also feature seven events, with registration required for most of them.
- Using the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning to Think through Challenges in Teaching General Education Courses
- The Gadget Gathering
- Game-Based Learning and Learning Analytics
- Collaborating Across the Disciplines
- Teaching Non-Majors in General Education Courses
- Interactive Teaching at the Burchfield
Emerging Scholars Series: Dr. Kenneth Orosz
This year’s Gadget Gathering will include presentations from several faculty members in addition to offering attendees the chance to discuss and play with everything from Google+ Social Network, Elluminate, Android apps, and clickers.
Two other major initiatives are planned. The first is Magna Commons, a library of more than 100 webinars on topics including teaching strategies, online class development, classroom management, and FERPA-related issues. “I’ve used some of these webinars,” said McMillen, “and I found them to be of high quality.” She plans to collect feedback at the end of Buffalo State’s one-year subscription, which begins soon.
Another initiative is what McMillen describes as “a self-service mentoring database,” Faculty to Faculty. It will be available later this year. “The research is clear,” said McMillen. “A good mentoring experience can help a faculty member be successful.” The database will enable faculty with particular strengths and interests to share their knowledge with others who need such information and guidance.
Faculty members will find many opportunities for exploring their particular professional-development interest through these initiatives, including next week’s events. “I see Innovations Week as similar to attending a conference,” said Cabra, “but minus the costs and hassles of travel.”