Faculty Spotlight

Faculty training focuses on participation, awareness, doing the best for students

June 06, 2018
Faculty training

Faculty members wear oversized gloves and try to write with crayons to gain an understanding of what a student with a disability might face in a class. Photo by Kat Ringenbach

When Brandman University’s faculty holds a retreat, it’s not just to renew connections and honor promotions and retirees. It’s also a time to learn from each other.

At the May retreat, that took the form of the first Professional Development Program put together by the faculty’s Executive Council. Divided into three sessions with three options each, the program gave Brandman’s full-time faculty a chance to learn about everything from using video feedback effectively to building student trust to exploring the issues of privilege.

Other options included:

  • Creating engaging team-based discussion boards
  • Turning Blackboard discussions into the “Magical World of Multimedia”
  • Building high-functioning virtual learning teams
  • Working with students with disabilities
  • Overcoming barriers to communication
  • Forming class groups or teams, learned through an interactive exercise

Making use of technology

Professor Kimberly Greene, Ed.D., showed off some of the free tools that faculty can use to engage students using video feedback. Demonstrating Screencast-O-Matic and the Google Drive platform, Greene also went over best practices for maintaining security and not overloading Blackboard.

Greene said using real-time video to communicate with a student helps prevent misunderstandings when she’s critiquing their work. It allows her to work with students as individuals and address their specific needs.

The human side

Associate Professor Alan Enomoto, Ed.D., focused on an even more human side of working with students: building trust.

Faculty training

Alan Enomoto leads a discussion about building trust when working with adult learners.

Because of Brandman’s intense eight-week sessions, he’s been tempted to jump right into content from the first moments of class.

“Get to know your students first. Don’t just delve into content. In the end, you’ll get much more from your students,” said Enomoto.

Most Brandman students arrive with at least some academic baggage – either having to overcome a lack of success in high school or college or not finding a major that fit them the first time they tried higher education.

“School wasn’t always the greatest experience,” he said. “Start with something positive and work from that. They need to know you know them as individuals. As you build trust, then you can start working on the academic things they need to work on.”

While doing that is often easier in blended classes (Enomoto often brings in dinner on the first night to encourage interaction), it’s still possible to create that online by offering regular office hours and one-on-one sessions by phone or as he called them, “voluntary mandatory meetings.” 

Enomoto said it’s also important to offer a “lifetime guarantee on education. I tell them to contact me, even if it’s three or four years down the road.”

Other faculty weighed in with a variety of strategies including calling on people even if they don’t raise their hands and using “two truths and one lie about yourself” discussions or boards where faculty and fellow students weigh in on what’s truth and what’s a lie. “It’s amazing what you can learn,” said Enomoto.

Exploring privilege

Assistant Professor Leticia Rojas, Ed.D., and Assistant Professor Nakisha Castillo, DMFT, created a box with tape and asked the attendees at their session to step inside. Then they asked those who grew up in a one-parent family to step out. They repeated with “didn’t always have access to health care” and “weren’t always sure where the next meal was coming from.”

Faculty training

Nakisha Castillo and Leticia Rojas prepare the "box" they had faculty members step in and out of depending on their "status." Photo by Kat Ringenbach

While the majority of participants stayed in the box, various faculty members stepped out, depending on the phrase. The goal was to have everyone reflect on both privilege and oppression and how it might shape the way treat their fellow faculty and their students.

Castillo said people look at her at often see a black woman, but her heritage includes people from Jamaica, the Philippines and India. All of those inform how she sees the world as does having an advanced education. “A college education is a privilege,” she said.

In the end, Rojas and Castillo stressed, students want to be treated the same way they see everyone else is treated. 

“Awareness is just a beginning.”

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