​Program History 

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.