Teaching Teachers – Role of the Faculty Developer
What if you are the leader of your institution in charge of teaching teachers? It’s one thing about being the #1 teacher among students, but how about among peers in the same field? This article is dedicated to those who have the huge task of teaching teachers aka: Faculty Developer. Here are some suggestions in getting started on the investment of improving your faculty talent base.
Motivation and time constraints pose the biggest deterrent for any faculty developmental imitative. Most professionals outside the academic world prefer short term weekend conferences to gather “nuggets” of information that might benefit their context. According to adult learning theories, this may have only short term and limited affects on the overall transformative transference of knowledge. Even so, these short blasts of conferences should not be negated for its benefits can still drive attendees to consider deeper commitments to development. We should take advantage of the brevity to create intensity. In a proposed model, the conferences would be a fishing pool to create outlets, farming select learners into a more in-depth training regimen.
As a Faculty Developer, you would need to commit to wearing several hats: 1) visionary, 2) recruiter, 3) evaluator, 4) teacher/learner, and 5) politician. First, either working in a team environment or alone, the faculty developer is usually the one casting vision on where to drive this initiative. He must draw the need to both the supervisor (school) and to the adult learners, promoting good, sound reasons on why we must develop our skills. He is selling a dream of necessity that the other parties might not yet see. Casting the vision is always the toughest fight and usually done alone without initial support.
Second, the FD would be a recruiter of talent and resources. Where will all these resources come from, whether talent, time, or treasure. As a recruiter, they must find credible instructors and external organizations to provide the training that fits the mission and values of the institution. Will the instructors fit the dynamics of the adult learners? Will the instructor be up to date with the material covered and will it be contextual? The matter is not to answer, “Who is available,” but to answer, “Who is best available for this context?”
Third, the FD needs to evaluate the whole process for improvement and accountability. Like many church Christmas program, the church exerts so much energy in the weeks leading up to the program, yet hardly spends the equivalent time on the back side (follow up) of the program. The trainings and workshops are only a initial point of contact to the adult learners. The evaluation process will being after the event itself to determine if the overall goal was achieved — changed behavior.
Fourth, the FD is also both a teacher and learner. The FD is at times required to provide training and instruction. They must have some areas of expertise to teach and coach the adult learners. With limited budget, the FD might even be the sole provider of instruction to the institution. In all cases, the FD must be a learner as well. They would have to submit themselves of learning though books and external training venues to sharpen their skills.
Finally, the FD must play a politician to negotiate in and out of stake holders and constituents within and outside the organization. Politicians leverage benefits by giving and taking resources through their contacts. In an open network or closed institution, many parties exist with alternative motives, which usually benefit themselves and their constituents. The FD, with their own agenda, must lobby among these parties to levy the limited resources of personnel and finances. The good politicians know that not every battle can be won. Building social capital would mean building a lasting, viable faculty developmental program.
The mission and roles described are not exhaustive of what is to be expected, but should lay down a foundational ground work of the FD’s primary objectives in creating this new culture of growth. Personally for me, I am in the pre-planning stages of an actual assignment to develop such a huge task for the National Vietnamese Baptist Fellowship – a network of churches in America. I commit my time with a group of individuals to cast this vision of developing better, healthier church leaders and teachers.