POV | Faculty Coaches: We’re all “Learning from Anywhere”
The College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences: Sargent College’s Dustin Allen, Jennifer Bentley, Erin Riley, and Karen Jacobs are serving as LfA Faculty Coaches. In this Point of View, they share their thoughts on BU’s current teaching and learning climate, outline the role of a faculty coach, and share the strategies their team uses to support their colleagues.
As many faculty recall, there is a steep learning curve entering academia. How do I create a syllabus? How do students best learn and retain information? Do I have the necessary expertise to teach? Now in the midst of the pandemic many of those feelings are again surfacing, but with intensified apprehensions. Perhaps faculty feel confident in their area of expertise, but are now challenged to restructure courses in an unfamiliar way. Maybe classroom interactions discussions were comfortably effective, but now faculty are unsure how that translates to a hybrid model. So what advice is given to new faculty when learning the ropes? Typically to seek out mentors and ask for help when necessary, while recognizing there will be opportunities for improvement along the way. All faculty can now collectively heed this same advice as BU embarks on Learn from Anywhere (LfA).
Faculty Coaching Program Launched
On June 7, 2020, Provost Morrison announced the Faculty Coaches initiative. “This program creates a network of faculty coaches who will receive augmented training on the pedagogical and technological aspects of preparing for this new modality [LfA]. After receiving training, the faculty coaches will be able to serve as resources to their fellow faculty through the summer and fall,” (Morrison, J. June 7, 2020).
As outlined, the role of the faculty coach is to provide a decentralized model of training and support. They will guide faculty throughout summer and fall, with the following key roles:
- advise faculty on relevant pedagogical and technological approaches for the LfA model,
- point faculty to resources within Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL), Educational Technology (EdTech) and other related units, and
- direct faculty to training opportunities within CTL, EdTech, and other related units.
At the College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences: Sargent College, one faulty coach was appointed for each of the four departments. All coaches participated in the Center for Teaching and Learning’s “Pedagogical Partnerships” workshop. This training provided faculty coaches with an understanding of strengths and weaknesses of a hybrid instructional model. Coaches completed many activities, discussions, reflections, and lectures surrounding “best practices” for creating an engaging classroom, meaningful assessments, and inclusive classroom communities for a flexible learning environment. Coaches have emerged competent and confident in their ability to serve faculty in a supportive role, and are ready to assist with the challenges ahead.
Sargent College’s Approach
The four Sargent faculty coaches currently meet on a weekly basis, are performing an LfA needs assessment for faculty, and have set up centralized LfA resources in Blackboard and/or Microsoft Teams. Coaching will occur in small groups or 1:1 sessions and the coaches will update the faculty regularly for any new announcements or resources applicable to LfA.
Reflecting back on the apprehensions surrounding the LfA model and disruption to traditional teaching methods, there is no doubt this semester will be uniquely challenging. Change can be difficult and each course has unique needs. But undoubtedly, strategies for success will include application of innovative resources just as new faculty would look towards mentors and development opportunities. It is important to acknowledge that all faculty are currently “Learning from Anywhere” and there are resources, including faculty coaches, available for support.
Learn more about LfA Faculty Resources and access the list of BU’s LfA Faculty Coaches.