What makes a good college teacher today?

It’s easy to settle into routines, isn’t it?  It’s easy to teach largely the way we were taught. It’s easy to go with the tried and true.

But students change, and technology improves, and the art and craft and science of teaching and learning shifts.  This little article in Faculty Focus reminds us that we too should change, and improve, and shift if we want to get the best out of ourselves and our students.

Enjoy those six reminders of successful and enjoyable college teaching.

Picture credit: Attributed to Meliacin Master [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.  File provided by the British Library from its digital collections. Illustration at the beginning of Euclid’s Elementa, in the translation attributed to Adelard of Bath. Photographic reproduction considered to be in the public domain.

What’s Obvious To You About Your Work As Community College Faculty, But Not To The Public?

I was reading The Chronicle of Higher Education and found this article fascinating.  Someone on Twitter asked professors to answer this question:  “What’s something that seems obvious within your profession, but the general public seems to misunderstand?”

Scroll through all the answers in the article, and you’ll find some jewels that apply to us as well.  Here are a few.

  • “History isn’t stuff that happened, it’s why.”
  • “Successful learning is not necessarily a 4.0[GPA] or a [score of] 100.”
  • “The quality of a professor is unrelated to the prestige of their institution.”
  • “Good teaching evaluations do not necessarily indicate that someone is an effective teacher.”
  • “Most professors don’t try to influence students’ political opinions, and those who do rarely succeed.”
  • “Half your college teachers are adjuncts with no job security . . .”

Next, someone on Twitter flipped the question:

‘What’s something that seems obvious to the general public, but your profession seems to misunderstand?”  And the answers were just as enlightening.

  • “That many first gen and low income college students are one family emergency away from having to leave school.”
  • “Literally everything.  We’re philosophers.”

So I thought I would ask a similar question.  What are some things that you think the general public does not understand about our work as professors in a community college setting?  Email me your answer and I’ll compile a list.


Picture credits:  National Security Agency, 1950s classroom; MiraCosta Community College 2018.

Listening Matters

You know how folks are always offering advice?  In a recent edition of The Chronicle of Higher Education, the advice from David D. Perlmutter includes “listen as well as you speak”.

I tend to believe I’m a pretty good speaker.

But that advice in The Chronicle caused me to think about whether I’m a good listener.  I think I’m getting better at listening.  But I also think I tend to jump in, or cut someone off, or add a comment, or assume I know what someone is about to say.  I think I need to practice my listening skills so that those who are speaking – whether one-on-one or in a group – can finish their thoughts.

How about you?  Are you a good listener?  Do you listen to your students?  To your colleagues?  Or are you more like me – with a tendency to chime in too soon?  We’re all highly educated, capable, assertive, accomplished, opinionated folk.  So – speaking for myself – I know I could be a better listener, which would make me a better colleague and a better AVP.

My pledge to you is to listen intently.  So let me know what I can do to help you do your work.  Let me know what ideas I can take forward.  Let me know if I can bring people together around a concept or a notion that needs a little brainstorming.  If you let me know, I promise to listen.

Picture courtesy of the National Institute for Occupational Safety & Health

Welcome to my AVP blog

Communicate, communicate, communicate

One of the things we hear too often at ACC is that we don’t communicate well.  In my own small way, I’m hoping to make a dent in our tangled lines of communication by establishing this blog page.  My goal is to use this blog as a way to highlight the things we’re doing in academic transfer programs to support student access and enrollment, persistence and engagement, and completion and transition to employment or transfer.

If the list above (access, persistence, completion) sounds familiar, it should.  It’s ACC’s Strategic Plan in a nutshell.  Everything we do in instruction and student services reflects our focus on student success.  Our efforts to improve how we help students find and navigate their educational pathways comes from our desire to help students achieve their goals.  After all, that’s why we’re here.  That’s why we come to work every day.  That’s why we stay up late grading or creating a new assignment.  That’s why we listen to students’ stories and try to help.  That’s why we have a bounce in our step when we walk into a classroom.  We are here to help students achieve their goals.

Community colleges have a mission that I treasure and one which I try to support in all my work:  open doors, second chances, better job opportunities, richer lives, more engaged citizens.  My belief is that you too treasure our mission.  My goal with this blog is to provide you with information and inspiration culled from learning more about what we are doing in academic transfer programs.  My hope is that I can help you do what you love:  help students achieve their goals.

Blessings on your good work.  And here’s to a little bit better communication.  Cheers!