Perspectives on the role of the CTL at the Community College

Ultimately, our success in the CTL is measured by how we support those who make student success possible!

Ultimately, our success in Mott Community College’s Center for Teaching & Learning is measured by how we support those who make student success possible!

By Mara Jevera Fulmer, Ed.D., MFA

As Faculty Director for Mott Community College’s Center for Teaching & Learning, I  had a bit of a learning curve  in order to fully embrace the role the CTL has on our campus. So I thought that with this entry in our blog I would share both the general idea of CTLs and how we have utilized this center at our community college.

What IS a CTL?

This is a conversation that usually begins when someone asks me where I work. In Summer 2014, I was offered the opportunity to be reassigned to Mott’s Center for Teaching & Learning on a fulltime basis. Previously, I served as the Program Coordinator for Graphic Design and a fulltime professor for the program that I had developed over 18 years ago. It was my baby and, just like a young adult, it needed a new direction which happily came through the leadership from one of my former students – now a fulltime colleague in the department.

But to answer the question: What IS a CTL? That required MY understanding to grow as I, among many people on campus, did not fully understand the CTL’s connection to professional development. Although I occasionally attended events or offered a workshop through the CTL, I did not understand the center’s more comprehensive objectives and the role it played. I was truly ignorant of its potential utilization. Guilty as charged. What I learned was that the CTL at campuses across the USA have a variety of names, but generally focus on supporting faculty – new and experienced – in improving their teaching effectiveness in order to improve student success. It all comes under the heading of Professional Development.

Everything is framed with two main goals: to improve ALL employees’ effectiveness in doing their job, so that ALL of us can work together to improve student success.

I spent my first few months learning all about Mott’s CTL and what role I might play in its activities. Professional Development seems like such a formal and “enforced” activity rather than the organic nature in which a faculty member usually seeks to “develop” in their discipline, especially in the arts where my roots lie. But at Mott, the CTL does much more than offer PD activities for faculty. There is a concerted effort to reach out to staff from all levels across the campus for their PD needs, to provide a center for gathering for college employee conversations, and to create opportunities for enrichment that can help open up creative and innovative thinking for all of our employees, all of which will lead to improving our job effectiveness.

At Mott, as I’m sure is the case at most community colleges, students, after all, are the reason we are here.

Bridging Departments & Disciplines through Hosted Meetings, Workshops & Special Events

The CTL at the community college becomes an effective tool for bridging departments and disciplines, creating peer-to-peer support, and introducing new techniques and learning theories that can help us with our most challenging students. At Mott, the CTL focuses on faculty and staff, bringing people together to share their expertise, discoveries, and insights in order to help each of us become more effective.

We also host special events coordinated with other local higher ed institutions to bring in nationally recognized leaders in teaching and learning. These events are used to tip off a year-long conversation, additional workshops, and peer-to-peer explorations. To help offset the costs of these speakers, Mott is a member of a local Quad POD with three other post-secondary institutions who share in the planning and programming of these special events.

To connect our work to students, we’ve utilized techniques such as a “Human Library” where individuals with historical and personal experience on an important topic share their stories and help bring history to life. Students attend as part of their coursework because their instructors have coordinated with the CTL to create an experience that will help bring depth and breadth to their learning.

Embracing Service & Experiential Learning

As a CTL at a community college in an urban area, we also facilitate Service and Experiential learning opportunities, including having a reassigned faculty member with leadership in this area. Not only do we offer support for faculty to incorporate S&E into their courses, we also coordinate with community organizations to involve faculty, staff, and even students for Service Saturdays. These special Saturdays can involve anything from building a home with Habitat for Humanity, to cleaning up the Flint Riverfront or Durant Park. And just because we are now into our “slower” Summer season for regular faculty activities, it doesn’t mean we have any fewer volunteer opportunities and participation. Beginning with a Volunteer Fair that occurred near the end of the Winter semester in April, we identified organizations that would fit well with the Service Saturday theme and have promoted these and other community events to encourage college staff, and the faculty still on campus, to be involved in the college’s community. In our regular 2014 Fall/Winter semesters, our Service Saturdays alone included over 900 man hours of volunteer time.

Technology & Work Productivity

Of course, the CTL at Mott offers a wide variety of workshops on technology and work productivity. We have reassigned faculty experts who are available to help their peers get the most out of our Learning Management Systems. Our staff IT experts use the CTL to share broader-based technology content, and there are occasional external experts who share their specific knowledge on a subject. As opportunities and interest arise, we connect with expertise in the community and region to offer training in everything from activities for personal enrichment, to new theoretical teaching models and their applications to improving student success. And, not to ignore health and wellness, the CTL provides a venue for workshops that improve the health and wellbeing of our campus community.

Adapting for Future Needs

The CTL at Mott is continuously updating their approach, scanning the environment for where we can best serve our audience – the faculty and staff of the college. Recently, after hosting a series of large task force meetings on student and employee experiences, we began to address those meeting outcomes in our programming plans for Summer and Fall. In addition, our college is part of the first Cohort in Michigan to implement Guided Pathways, and the CTL has risen to the challenge of providing support for that effort through workshops that help faculty and staff create and understand how to work with students using the Guided Pathways.

The exciting part of working in Mott’s Center for Teaching & Learning is that it never stays the same. We have the ability to seek out opportunities to support all members of the college community in ways that can truly have a positive impact. Yes, it can be challenging to find ways to improve attendance amidst the hugely busy schedules of our audience. But that is but one challenge among many, one that we don’t take lightly and are continuously examining ways to deliver our services to help improve access for our programs. Whether we hit it right, or fail miserably, we try and learn from it. Our goal, however, is to be the best resource possible to support our college faculty and staff so that, ultimately, our students will be the true winners. That’s the best way I can think of to measure our success.

Now Some Questions for you!

Do you ever attend programs at your college’s Center for Teaching & Learning (or it’s name variety)?

Are you involved in developing programs for a CTL?

How does your CTL attract/schedule/plan in order to achieve the best attendance and effectiveness?

Write back in the comments to share your thoughts about the questions above, or other things you’d like to share.

Thank you!

New Additions to the Offsite Conferences & Opportunities

Staff and Faculty should take advantage of local, regional and national opportunities to participate in conference and training that are of importance to their careers and the college.

Take a look at the updated list shared here.

In the meantime, hope the semester is going well for all our educators out there!

Conference Opportunities for College Staff

It takes a LOT of different people serving different functions to make a college run! And professional development is a strategic part of building skills, improving efficiencies, and helping increase our flexibility and readiness to take on new challenges as we continue to serve our students!

You’ll see in our blog, a growing list of opportunities for conferences and seminars with more added all the time. Check back on our Conferences page, or use our Categories or Tags to find posts that may be relevant to your interests.

Here are a few upcoming Conferences Opportunities for Administrative and Support Staff. September is a very busy month for these activities! A few additional ones are included here for your planning. But you should also check out the more complete list. Many conferences that appear to be for Faculty actually have some great opportunities for Staff as well!

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SEPTEMBER 2014
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September 17-19, 2014
Conference for Community College Advancement

Sacramento, CA
http://www.case.org/Conferences_and_Training/CCCA14.html
Join colleagues from throughout North America for the Conference for Community College Advancement. This special conference will bring together professionals from all areas of advancement—fundraising, alumni relations, marketing and communications, and government relations—for unparalleled programming, professional development and networking opportunities.

September 25-27, 2014
Association of Executive and Administrative Professionals Annual Conference
Biloxi, MS
http://www.theaeap.com/seminars/
Successful careers are built on successful relationships. This day and a half program will help you become a more “conscious communicator” in your daily business and personal lives. You will return to work prepared to build stronger boss/team, member/peer relationships by learning how to analyze situations and consciously use professional productive strategies.

September 30-October 3, 2014
2014 Conference For Executive and Administrative Assistants

Las Vegas, NV
http://officedynamicsconference.com/
We focus on what counts: Administrative Competencies. Very few Conferences for Administrative Professionals focus specifically on the competencies necessary to be successful at adding value every day within the administrative arena. Office Dynamics International is the premier leader in the development and presentation of sophisticated training programs and information for administrative professionals.

September 28-October 1, 2014
APC – 22nd Annual Administrative Professionals Conference
National Harbor, MD
http://www.apcevent.com/?utm_source=AEAP&utm_medium=Banner&utm_campaign=AttendeeMktg
You will thrive in the atmosphere of professionalism and learning that the Conference provides as you join hundreds of other multi-talented assistants at every stage in their careers. More than 75 learning sessions are presented by professional trainers, and your registration includes most meals, networking events, Conference materials, and inspirational keynotes. No other training event for Administrative Professionals delivers the value of the APC.

September 28-30, 2014
CUPA-HR Annual Conference

San Antonio, TX
http://www.cupahr.org/conference2014/index.aspx
At the annual conference, choose sessions from a variety of topics such the ACA, diversity and inclusion, conflict management, faculty issues and more. Online registration is no longer available. But you can still register on-site.

September 29-October 2, 2014
EDUCAUSE 2014 Annual Conference

Orlando, FL & Online
http://www.educause.edu/annual-conference
Discover solutions by exploring the 270+ exhibiting companies that provide innovative products and services for your institution. Engage in interactive sessions and special topic discussions as part of a robust, member-driven program. Focus on content that’s important and relevant to you—sort the program by overarching content domains, topical themes, or specific speakers. Network with peers from around the world who share similar interests and challenges—excellent resources for ideas and experience. Extend your conference experience by gathering with peers and take in a restaurant, evening entertainment, or explore the richness around where you’re attending.

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OCTOBER 2014
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October 23-24, 2014
CUPA-HR Michigan Chapter Fall Conference – “HR Excellence: Made in Michigan”

Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, MI
http://chapters.cupahr.org/mi/events/
HR professionals must be knowledgeable, innovative and resilient to navigate the rapidly changing environment. The Fall MI CUPA-HR conference provides an opportunity for Michigan higher education professionals to network and connect on topics that prepare us to shape our campus strategy and culture. Learn and share ideas on recruiting, developing and rewarding talent in the Great Lakes state. Keynote speaker will be Joe Caruso, author of the best-selling book, The Power of Losing Control.

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NOVEMBER 2014
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November 24, 2014
The Lansing Administrative Assistants Conference
Lansing, MI
http://www.skillpath.com

You’ll learn to build and strengthen your people skills; manage multiple projects, responsibilities and bosses; get more done in less time; and become an indispensable star assistant! Boost your communication skills, your productivity, your professional development and your satisfaction! In this era of dramatic change in the business world, assistants have never been more challenged … more stretched … than they are today. You’re expected to do whatever it takes to keep the “train moving” amidst the confusion brought on by re-engineering, restructuring, new technology—whatever changes you’re up against. In this valuable conference, you’ll learn new, practical skills that will enable you to manage your job and your career with new professionalism, new authority and new success.

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JANUARY 2015
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January 28-30, 2015
EDUCAUSE Connect
San Diego, CA
http://www.educause.edu/conferences-events/educause-connect
EDUCAUSE Connect creates highly interactive, action-driven professional development experience focused on finding workable solutions, connecting people’s experiences, building professional networks, and growing individual and collective understanding of higher education IT issues. Connects are events for anyone who wants to move ideas, understanding, and the profession forward.