Professional Development

By Dick Ryerson

Remaining current in your teaching discipline, learning more about teaching and learning, and staying abreast of changing technologies are challenging for faculty members today. All California Community Colleges receive funding from the state for the professional development of faculty, staff and administrators. Most colleges also provide district funding for these purposes as well. It is typical for these funds to be managed by a variety of entities on campus. Adjunct faculty members are usually supported through this funding for professional conference and travel purposes and are generally included in professional development activities and programming.

Staff or Professional Development Committees

Each campus that receives AB1725 funding for staff development must maintain a committee composed of faculty, staff and management representatives who are charged with overseeing the planning, budgeting and reporting of funded programs.

Funding Sources for Professional Development

State funding comes in two forms to every district. In the mid 1980's, AB1725 reform legislation provided $10 million dollars to be shared by the 107 community colleges in the state. Each college is provided funding annually through a formula based on their full time equivalent student enrollment. More recently, additional funding has been provided due to the increased need for equipment and training arising from the dramatic growth in the use of technology. These funds are supplied from the Telecommunications and Technology Infrastructure Program (TTIP) and provide for additional training and development in technology.

Adjunct Faculty Orientation Programs

Most colleges have some form of adjunct faculty orientation, but the formality and the source of delivery varies greatly between colleges and even within colleges. Different providers often cover various aspects of orientation. Typically, department chairpersons provide an overview of department expectations, classroom facilities and faculty work areas. Deans or instructional managers may provide general information regarding policies and procedures while offices of instruction or student learning provides the broader view of the educational environment.

Conference & Travel Support

Local policies vary and adjunct faculty members may not receive conference and travel support at the same level as full-time faculty, but increasingly colleges are providing support. It is appropriate to seek assistance from more than one source including your department or division, centralized professional development funding and grant funding when available. Check with all of these sources to determine available funding and policies regarding its use.

Faculty Development Resource Centers

Many campuses today have one or more forms of professional development centers. Services may be centralized in one location or decentralized by purpose or function. Typically they are called "Centers for Teaching and Learning" or "Online Support Centers" or "Staff Development Resource Centers." Most hold workshops or classes or have resource materials on teaching and learning. Many provide computer workstations for faculty and staff use. Many adjunct faculty members find these centers to provide a place to work with computers and online access in a semi-private setting. Online or distance education centers support the development and delivery of online materials or classes and may have independent training programs as well.

Seminars, Workshops and Training Sessions

Colleges typically advertise professional development offerings via printed flyers, brochures or a staff development schedule of classes or workshops. Many colleges today are meeting this need through campus e-mail communications and/or web pages. Registration for campus workshops and programs is increasingly available on the web. Some districts share their local campus offerings between district campuses; this practice may bring opportunities closer to a faculty member's place of residence. Find your local resources and watch for professional development opportunities.

Flexible Calendar Programs

The Flexible Calendar Program, known on local campuses as "FLEX Days," allows for a district to reduce the number of teaching days to a limited number, by adding additional professional development days. Many colleges take advantage of this program to provide staff development offerings prior to the start of the semester or during the school year. The number of days, and the associated programming is a local decision. Generally this programming is open to all faculty members, full-time or adjunct. Some campuses require adjunct participation and some do not. Consult your Human Resources department for specific policies on this program.

In-Service Programs

This is a term used by some colleges to describe programs where attendance is expected. It might be a flexible calendar or district identified in-service day. Your local staff or professional development coordinator would have information on any in-service programs on your campus and what the expectations for participation would be for adjunct faculty members.

Technology Training

Most campuses have specific facilities to provide technology training. Subjects vary from basic computer applications to web page development. Using state TTIP funding, many colleges provide specific training necessary to expand or support curriculum delivery utilizing technology. This may be in the form of on-campus training or sponsorship to offsite training opportunities.

Another form of training, which many colleges participate in, is based on a Computer Based Training (CBT) model. In this program participants are provided with software training programs which are delivered by training CD's provided by the district to the employee who then studies either in a college facility or on their own.

Grants and Grant Writing Assistance

Local campus professional development programs may offer small grants to support the development of new approaches to teaching and classroom delivery. In addition, most colleges have a grants office or grant writer who will assist faculty in locating great funding and developing grant proposals for state and federal grants. To access information about the grants program at this college visit this Local Link to Grant Writing Support.