Professional Development Workshops Renew

K. Patricia Bouweraerts
Staff Workshop Participants Image

A Poverty Simulation workshop was held together with regional support agencies for attendees including faculty, staff, community participants and students.

Faculty and staff prepared for the Spring Semester at Truckee Meadows Community College in a wide array of academic workshops, with many new offerings, from Jan. 9–20.

“We continue to learn all of our lives—all of us can continue to learn something new like a trick with the computer or a more efficient way of doing things,” said Cathy Brewster, Manager of Professional Development.

Oftentimes workshop ideas originate from faculty input or discussion.

"Many of the ideas for sessions come from what are the current topics in teaching and learning—there’s a real emphasis now about how people learn and how that learning sticks, including brain science and moving past superficial learning to deep learning, real learning,” she said.

Some of what is covered comes from campus initiatives, such as the upcoming Workday human resources (HR) software platform adoption.

“We offer sessions on initiatives such as Canvas, the new tools available in Canvas,” Brewster said. “There is also a growing concern at TMCC for under-resourced students. That led to the poverty simulation. Also, there is no shortage for technology needs that we have to continue to train on with all of the software updates, including Windows.”

She added that requests for particular workshop topics may come to her department, and surveys are also conducted for faculty and staff to rank subject ideas according to needs that they would like to see addressed.

For two weeks prior to fall and spring semesters each year, a widespread line-up of instructional and refresher sessions are offered at the College. They are produced by Cathy Brewster and her team.

Organized workshop series have been presented at TMCC since 2004, and about 200 total workshops are offered each year, including some online sessions. TMCC has presented professional development training for many years, but after 2004, the scope was greatly expanded to provide a comprehensive list of options often and regularly, she said.

Presenters include fellow staff members with a specific knowledge area expertise, professionals from the Reno-Sparks community and sometimes paid guest speakers from Nevada or out of state.

“It’s really a teamwork thing,” she said.

In January, workshops covered a wide range of topics including but not limited to the following:

  • Canvas online instructional courses training
  • Creating a Welcoming and Engaging Learning Environment
    for International and Non-Native Students
  • Foundations for Supporting International Students
  • Google Apps for Education
  • Introduction to Workday, HR software
  • Microsoft Office programs
  • Poverty Simulation
  • Qualitative Data Collection, classroom activities
  • Quality Matters (QM) Rubric training
  • Threat Assessment and Prevention
  • Tutoring and Learning Center tour

In addition to the academic sessions, a Reconnect With Your Colleagues event was held. On Jan. 19, staff circulated among stations in the V. James Eardley Student Center:

  • Adventures in Virtual Welding
  • Board Games
  • Find Your Ancestors, Nevada State Genealogical Society
  • Dance Through the Semester, learn to swing dance
  • Drawing/Coloring for Stress Reduction
  • Haiku, poem writing
  • Pet Therapy

“What I really like is that at these events, we are able to visit with people in different departments who we don’t get to see once we’re deeply involved in the new semester,” said Dan Bouwerearts, Graphic Communications Professor.

National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development

TMCC is a member of the National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development (NISOD) and selects between five and eight staff members each year to attend the annual conference sponsored by the College of Education, University of Texas at Austin. Faculty nominate colleagues for the event and it is considered an honor among the staff members.

The following TMCC representatives will attend NISOD’s four-day International Conference on Teaching and Leadership Excellence from May 27-30 in Austin, Texas:

  • Brian Wells, M.F.A., Professor of Graphic Communications
  • Haley Orthel-Clark, Psychology Instructor
  • Joan Steinman, Ed.D., Director of Retention and Support Programs
  • Meeghan Gray, PhD, Biology Instructor
  • Precious Hall, PhD, Professor of Political Science

Evaluation and Assessment of Workshops

“I was in the parking lot one morning and I called out to one of the faculty members and asked her what she was going to do in class that day,” Brewster said. “She said, ‘Oh, I’m doing an activity that students love. I got it through one of your professional development workshops.’ That really meant a lot to me.”

At the conclusion of each session, staff members evaluate and assess workshops. Brewster also checks back to find how people are using the material, and if the new techniques presented make lessons more effective or fun.

“They are taking the material and using it, and it’s making a difference in student learning and student success, or in their own productivity and effectiveness, ways to problem-solve,” she said. “Our office is like a service to the College; a service to the mind or productivity is what we can offer. It’s exciting to be a part of something new. I’m glad to be a support mechanism for academic excellence and lifelong learning.”

For more information about Professional Development at TMCC, please call 775-674-7965.