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Professional Learning Communities (PLCs)

What is a PLC?

A Professional Learning Community (PLC) is a cross-disciplinary group of 8-12 faculty and academic staff who engage in a collaborative semester-long program to ask questions about innovations in teaching and learning, explore teaching innovations, and generate products of value to the campus community (e.g., surveys, policy papers, teaching tools, presentations, and manuscripts).

A PLC usually consists of several basic traits:

  • Cross-disciplinary (often combining faculty and professional staff)

  • 8-12 members (plus 1-2 facilitators)

  • Active, collaborative learning experience

  • Regular structured scholarly activities and discussions

  • Semester-length (though some run one year)

  • Often creates an end product (e.g., scholarship, conference, presentation, syllabus revision).

Spring 2023 PLCs

Creative Expression as Self-Care for College Educators

Facilitator: Dr. Travis Martin
Format: In-person. Bi-weekly starting on 2/1/2023. Wednesdays, 11:30-12:30 PM. Some sessions may last until 1 PM depending on content, setup, and breakdown.
Location:  Faculty Center for Teaching & Learning (Crabbe Library 318)

“My temper grew shorter. I started returning students’ papers later and later … I had forgotten everything I knew about good teaching,” wrote Jonathan Malesic for the Chronicle of Higher Education, reflecting on burnout and his decision to leave academia. Maslach (1982) first described teacher burnout in three stages: physical and emotional exhaustion, cynicism (more apathy, less empathy), and then underachievement caused by feelings of hopelessness. If not addressed, these feelings can end a career (Winfield & Paris, 2022). But even if you haven’t reached the point of quiet resignation, it is hard to deny one simple fact: Our jobs are harder than they used to be. Pandemics, protests, uprisings, and uncertainties permeate our classrooms, our offices, and our homelives (Răducua, 2022). Compounding matters, the boundaries between work and home are becoming increasingly blurred by technology, “hustle culture,” and the need to attend to student issues extending beyond academics and into such emotionally laborious arenas as health care, food scarcity, discrimination, even interpersonal violence (Hyatt, 2022). You can’t take care of others if you do not first take care of yourself. No more excuses. Join this PLC. Meet up during the lunch hour every other week. Learn about the relationship between creative expression and self-care. You will meditate, write, reflect, create art, make music, and share. Join this PLC to rejuvenate and grow alongside your colleagues, to return to the best version of yourself in the classroom.

Register Here


Designing Transparent Approaches for Learning & Teaching to Encourage and Improve Learning and Retention

Facilitator: Dr. Russell Carpenter
Format: In-person, 2-3pm on Thursdays (schedule is below)
Location: Faculty Center for Teaching & Learning (Crabbe Library 318)

Transparency in Learning and Teaching (TILT) is used to describe ways in which faculty can be transparent in their teaching practices to encourage and enhance the student learning experience and retention. In this Professional Learning Community (PLC), faculty will explore the TILT framework, develop applications for use in their courses, and reflect on teaching and learning experiences. Participants will receive a copy of Transparent Design in Higher Education Teaching and Leadership.

Projected Schedule:
January 26 - Introduction (Read Part I: The Fundamentals of Transparent Design)
February 2 - Understanding and Situating TILT (Read Part II: Transparent Design for Faculty Developers)
February 9 - Action Planning for TILT Small Teaching Change
February 16 - March 9 Implementation
March 23 - Mid-Term Meeting
March 24 - April 12 Implementation
April 20 - Concluding Meeting 

August 25 - Introduction (Read Part I: The Fundamentals of Transparent Design)
September 1 - Understanding and Situating TILT (Read Part II: Transparent Design for Faculty Developers)
September 8 - Action Planning for TILT Small Teaching Change
September 12 - October 16 Implementation
October 20 - Mid-Term Meeting
October 20 - November 6 Implementation
November 10 - Concluding Meeting I
November 17 - Concluding Meeting II

Register Here

From Data to Publication

Facilitator: Dr. Sara Incera
Format: This PLC will meet bi-weekly in the spring, 1:15 - 2:15pm on the dates listed below.
Location:  Noel Studio Conference Room

Do you have publishable data that is becoming more and more irrelevant every semester that you do not write it up? Do you have trouble finding the time to sit and write those pesky results? If so, this PLC is for you! We will have biweekly meetings in which we will cover the full process from data to publication. Participating in this PLC you will find a good journal, clean your data, run the analyses, create relevant figures and/or tables, interpret the results, write a draft, and submit for publication. All while being supported by an interdisciplinary group of faculty who are struggling through this process just like you are :D

January 24 - Choosing a journal
February 7 - Finding an example results section
February 21 - Data Visualization in R
March 7 - Cleaning/Organizing the data
March 21 - Checking Assumptions
April 4 - Running / Interpreting the analyses
April 18 - Share a final draft with the group
May 2 - Submit for publication

Register Here

Open Educational Resources

Facilitators: Kelly Smith & Dr. Erin Stevenson
Format: This PLC will meet bi-weekly in the spring of 2023. Exact dates/times are TBD, depending on participants' schedules.
Location: Faculty Center for Teaching & Learning (Crabbe Library 318)

Recipients of Alternative Textbook Challenge Grants are required to attend this PLC, and any faculty interested in exploring Open Educational Resources (OERs) and open pedagogy are welcome to register as well.

Participants will:
1. Identify Open Educational Resources (OERs) and discuss their use in open pedagogy.
2. Examine the ways OERs can enhance teaching and learning and contribute to equity in the classroom.
3. Develop a zero textbook cost course using OERs, public domain, and library resources.

Register Here

Relationship-Rich Education in Teaching & Learning

Facilitators:  Dr. Jose Juan Gomez-Becerra, Dr. Casey Humphrey, & Dr. Russell Carpenter
Format:  In-person.  2-3pm Wednesdays. Schedule included below.
Location: Faculty Center for Teaching & Learning (Crabbe Library 318)

Relationship rich strategies have been found to increase student engagement, motivation, and inspiration to learn. In turn, these relationships create a more comfortable, accepting, and student-centered environment which promotes a more impactful learning environment. In this Professional Learning Community (PLC), participants will explore the principles of Peter Felten and Leo Lambert’s (2020) relationship-rich education (Relationship-Rich Education, 2020). In addition, participants will design and implement strategies into their course(s). Participants will have the opportunity to also engage in research and assessment regarding the use of these techniques for a forthcoming publication. Participants will receive a copy of Felten and Lambert’s Relationship-Rich Education, along with a packet of resources including videos, shorter articles, resources, and a guide compiled by teacher-scholars with implementation ideas for your courses.

Week & Activity (All Wednesday, 2-3pm, FCT&L)
January 25 - Introduction (Read Chapters: Introduction & Visions of the Possible)
February 1 - Understanding and Situating RRE (Read Chapters 2-4; with a focus on Chapter 4)
February 8 - Action Planning for Small Teaching Change (Read 5-6; with a focus on Chapter 5)
February 8 - March 8 Implementation
March 22 - Mid-Term Meeting
March 22 - April 12 Implementation
April 19 - Concluding Meeting 

Register Here

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