The student news site of El Camino College

El Camino College The Union

The student news site of El Camino College

El Camino College The Union

The student news site of El Camino College

El Camino College The Union

Summer program available for El Camino faculty to learn more inclusive teaching skills

Polly Parks, an associate professor of biology, announces sign-ups for the Teaching Academy for Continuous Learning during the Academic Senate meeting on Tuesday, April 16 in the Distance Education Center. The goal is to teach skills faculty can apply to their classrooms come fall 2024 to create a more inclusive study space. (Erica Lee | The Union)

While students are enjoying their summer break, El Camino College faculty members will be heading back to the classroom.

Polly Parks, an associate professor of biology, announced during the April 16 Academic Senate meeting that sign-ups are now open for a professional development program that will begin in June.

The Teaching Academy for Continuous Learning is a two-part, intensive paid professional development program designed to help faculty learn skills they can use to build a more inclusive classroom.

“We get to learn all the cool pedagogy stuff,” Parks said. “Active learning, grading, all that super fun, nerdy teaching stuff.”

Unlike other training courses, which focus on reading about theory-based work and discussion groups about how it can be applied to the classroom, TACL takes a real-world approach where teachers become the students.

“I think it’s, in general, the opportunity to discuss and work through lesson plans with other professors. It’s something we don’t get to do as much. That’s the big thing I got out of it, being able to work things out with other professors and seeing what other people do,” Stephanie Burnham, associate professor of English, said.

The first part, called the “Learning Institute,” is scheduled to take place June 24 to 28 at the Distance Education Center from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The second part consists of observation sessions that will be conducted later in the fall semester.

Groups of attendees, known as cohorts, will work together in smaller groups to observe and share insights into their teaching methods.

Burnham, who has been teaching at the college since 2018, participated in a TACL training course back when it was called the Equity-Minded Teaching Institute.

“It’s one of the better training programs I’ve done,” Burnham said. “In more traditional or classic training, it’s heavy on the theory. Whereas this program is heavier on the practical. It’s a good thing that it takes out the guesswork of how the theory could work in the classroom by applying practical application.”

TACL was founded three years ago as a collaboration between the Academic Senate and Guided Pathways. It was started by eight facilitators but is led today by Parks, Vice President of Educational Policies Darcie McClelland and associate professor of English Erica Brenes.

“One of our big goals for the summer is to make it a lot more, ‘Here’s what you can do in your class.’ So it’s a little less on the theory side of things and a lot more on the application side of things,” Parks said.

McClelland, who is also a biology professor, encourages full-time, part-time and instructional faculty to sign up.

“We’re not asking anybody to completely revolutionize the way they teach,” McClelland said. “The commitment is, will you make three small changes by fall that might improve students?”

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