Faculty members use feedback from their evaluations and their own knowledge of their field to determine what areas of professional development are needed. If a faculty member has specific needs or expectations outlined in formal evaluations, the division chair, the formal faculty mentor, and informal mentors work with the individual to determine what support, resources, and professional development activities are needed.
Several professional development activities are available for faculty to improve their understanding and performance in areas that are essential to our conceptual framework and to our profession. First, there is institutional support—and strong interest—in professional development in the areas of diversity, technology, assessment, and teaching and learning.
The UMM Faculty Center for Teaching and Learning provides a range of services and opportunities that allow the faculty members to learn and also to share knowledge and expertise with others. A major event prior to classes beginning each fall is the Fall Faculty Retreat. A review of themes and session titles of recent faculty retreats shows that the concerns of diversity, technology, assessment, and quality teaching are of importance to the entire UMM faculty. Teacher education faculty members are regular attendees and frequent presenters. Our expertise is solicited and valued at these events.
A very creative and interesting opportunity to reflect on issues of diversity when working with our own candidates and other university students has been the Diversity and Equity Study Circle. Founded in 2004 and still facilitated by a teacher education faculty member, this study group invites faculty members from across campus to read, discuss, and share insights into their work with students of color and other underrepresented groups. Teacher education faculty members have been a part of many discussions.
Many opportunities to learn about and use instructional technology are available at UMM. Recent initiatives encourage electronic instruction through the use of Moodle, Adobe Connect, and Wikis. Bush Interactive Teaching Groups and Technology-Enhanced Learning (TEL) grants support faculty projects. Computing services dedicates 80% of a full time position to support faculty use of technology by providing group training and personalized instruction as required.
UMM TEP faculty members participate regularly in professional development activities. The teacher education budget supports faculty attendance (including full-time temporary faculty) at two annual conferences of the Minnesota Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (MACTE). These conferences provide opportunities for UMM faculty to stay current in state and national standards, discuss key educational issues, learn about programs at other intuitions, and establish meaningful relationships with peers in our areas of expertise. For example, the theme of the most recent MACTE one-day congress was “Embracing the future to maximize human potential: Technology, Diversity, Creativity, and Leadership.” This organization is designed to help all Minnesota teacher educators do the best work possible and work together to do it.
As described, UMM teacher education faculty members are active participants in their own professional development and in providing leadership for others. Regular attendance at fall faculty retreats and MACTE conferences for tenured, non-tenured, and full-time faculty members is encouraged and supported. Adjunct faculty, teaching a limited number of courses in a year (e.g. one 4-credit methods course each fall), are not included in these particular meetings. All are invited to attend meetings of the Teacher Education Advisory Council.
UMM TEP faculty members are regular applicants for institutional funding opportunities. They are regular applicants for out-of-state travel funds which support travel to conferences. They have received research stipends as part of the Faculty Research Enhancement Fund program. They have received single-semester leaves and sabbaticals. Faculty members have also been successful in their requests for funded support from talented UMM students through the Morris Academic Partner Program and Morris Student Administrative Fellowships. Educational Development Program Grants also support faculty members working to develop new pedagogies or courses.