Why Faculty Professional Development & Training Count
Elyse Adler is an Assistant Professor of Information Technology
Training Day. Inservice Day. Professional Development Day. There are plenty of ways to describe what is typically one of the year’s most dreaded days for faculty members. No one wants to sit through hours of a PowerPoint presentation, listen to someone drone on about a seemingly irrelevant topic or “waste” countless hours stuck in a meeting.
But here’s the thing: we shouldn’t dread training. Training should provide tools, knowledge and resources that help faculty members do their jobs in a more effective and efficient manner. Faculty training should be approached as an environment of learning and growth, just like we cultivate in our own classrooms. It should not be just a box to check off the list.
Training by Learning
Some institutions are great at facilitating faculty training. However, most are not. In fact, before the COVID-19 pandemic began, college and university employees ranked in the bottom quartile among U.S. employees in learning and development measures.
This should not be the case. We are institutions of learning and we, ourselves, should also be learning! We want our students to be successful, so we should be participating in trainings that equip us to be better educators. This means that we should be attending trainings that support our content areas, our learning management software and best practices in teaching and learning.
Finding Relevant Training
It can be difficult for an institution to plan trainings that are relevant for all faculty members. However, topics such as classroom management, institutional policies and procedures, student issues and course design are just a few topics that they can cover across campus.
If your institution does not provide these learning opportunities for you, speak up and seek them out. Take ownership of your own growth and development. In the end, your students will thank you because you can provide them with a stronger, more well-rounded educational experience.
Broadening Your Horizons
As you seek out, plan and attend trainings, be sure to diversify your learning portfolio. Cover broad topics on teaching and learning, but also review material within your content area. Outside of your institution, professional organizations are excellent places to receive discipline-specific training and professional development. Conferences can also be wonderful places for learning, especially from peers in a similar subject or topic of interest.
Learning Moving Forward
When evaluating training options, there are a few things to consider:
- The learning objectives of the training should be directly related to student outcomes and success.
- The learning culture that we develop for our students should be extended to the faculty.
- Training should be easily accessible, with options for online learning or hybrid models.
Now, go forth – learn, glean and grow! And most of all, be an example of a lifelong learner to your students.
Find out how other faculty are feeling about the training they receive in our inaugural Faces of Faculty report.