About the Program
In the spring of 1989 Joe Gerda and Russell Richardson attended a
professional development-training program called the “Instructional
Skills Workshop (ISW).” The program trained participants to facilitate a
workshop in which teachers developed their skills by teaching to each
other in small groups. The ISW is based on the “micro-teaching” model.
This experience served as the genesis for the development of a much larger
program at College of the Canyons. Gerda and Richardson returned to
campus with an idea: use the micro-teaching model as the beginning point
for a program of professional development for adjunct faculty. They
theorized that adjunct faulty were in greater need of professional
development opportunities than full-time faculty and that the model
would work well with both new and experienced faculty. Since they wished
to adapt the model and the ISW does not allow changes, the workshop
designation was changed to “Teaching Skills Workshop (TSW).”
Moreover, they wanted a program that would go beyond the basics provided
by micro-teaching. They decided that the second phase of the program
would be a series of traditional workshops on a variety of teaching
topics. These workshops would give teachers an opportunity to explore a
selection of innovative practices in greater depth, or simply to have
time to discuss the common challenges they faced in the classroom. The
third phase would be based on mentoring. Each adjunct faculty
participant would be paired with an experienced mentor teacher. The
mentee would plan a lesson, drawing on all the experiences he or she had
garnered from the workshops, and would teach the lesson in the classroom
while being observed by the mentor. Importantly, the workshops would be
offered on weekends when most adjuncts would be available.
This basic model, with three distinct phases, received administrative
support. A crucial part of this support was an agreement that adjuncts
would need to be compensated for attending the workshops. The District
agreed to provide a stipend for attendance and a 10% pay raise for
completion of the program.
The workshops began in the fall of 1989. Originally, based on the ISW
model, two faculty facilitators worked with a group of five adjunct
faculty. Later the program was modified so that each TSW group included
four adjunct faculty working with one faculty facilitator.
From the beginning there were more applicants for the program than places
available. Within a few years more program facilitators were trained and
the program continued to grow and to develop. The faculty steering
committee now includes eleven faculty facilitators and the program
begins anew every fall with a cohort of twenty adjuncts.
The Associate Program has practiced a continuous regimen of
self-evaluation and redesign. In 1992 the program committee instituted
an annual summer retreat at which the program was fully reassessed and
modified for the coming year. Based on these retreats, hundreds of
changes and refinements have been made to the program, even though the
basic model has remained very much the same.