The Instructional Skills Workshop (ISW) Program is a comprehensive three-tiered instructor development program that serves as the foundation for several professional development activities.
The Instructional Skills Workshop is offered within a small group setting and is designed to enhance the teaching effectiveness of both new and experienced educators. During the 3-4 day workshop, participants design and conduct three “mini-lessons” and receive verbal, written and video feedback from the other participants who have been learners in the mini-lessons. Using an intensive experiential learning approach, participants are provided with information on the theory and practice of teaching adult learners, the selection and writing of useful learning objectives with accompanying lesson plans, techniques for eliciting learner participation, and suggestions for evaluation of learning.
The workshop encourages reflection and examination of one’s teaching practices with feedback focused on the learning process rather than on the specific content of the lesson. Effective feedback skills, practiced in the workshop, are useful for educators in the classroom and also as they conduct their regular institutional business.
The ISW engenders participatory learning and the building of community that can transfer back into the classroom and the institution. Participation in a workshop creates an opportunity for new faculty to learn about the unique culture and value system of the organization and can also be a renewing and revitalizing activity for more seasoned members. Added benefits are a sense of collegiality, team building, self-discovery, and learning new approaches to working with others.
The activities of the ISW form the nucleus of the Facilitator Development Workshop (FDW), a five-day training event to prepare experienced faculty to lead the Instructional Skills Workshops. Participants refine their teaching techniques through the mini-lessons, and with guided practice and feedback, develop strategies for facilitating the group process. Participants have the opportunity to develop new knowledge and techniques for facilitating group development, to explore other teaching methods, to explore formative evaluation techniques, and to receive feedback on their own teaching and facilitating skills. Some chairpersons participate in the FDW to enhance their competence in providing constructive feedback for their teaching colleagues. The FDW provides an opportunity for individuals to concentrate on their own professional development in a challenging and supportive atmosphere. Participants can become part of a larger instructional development network.
In addition to delivering workshops, ISW facilitators often assist in a variety of activities related to the improvement of instruction. Classroom observation visits, video-taping, involving students as a means of eliciting feedback to the instructor, and individual consulting and facilitating services are often provided. These activities are offered only at the request of individual faculty members and all interchanges are confidential. Facilitators with highly developed communication skills are often called upon to assist with college-wide in-service days, institutional evaluation, departmental meetings, and retreats. When upward mobility is not always an option, being a facilitator may provide alternate leadership development opportunities.
The third level of the tier is the Trainer Development Workshop (TDW) where individuals who have completed the Facilitator Development Workshop and who have led several Instructional Skills Workshops develop their skills to offer the Facilitator Development Workshop.
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