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Revised 2014.1.18. KEF.

The Geography Faculty Development Alliance

Comments from Past Participants


If colleagues asked you why you attended the workshop--or why they would want to attend--what would you say?

Finally, somebody will sit you down and explain to you how to work towards success in your academic career. 

Coming to this workshop gives you the time, the resources, the interaction, and the impetus to articulate your path as a teacher-scholar; where you are already headed and where you can grow!   

Widened my range of understanding of the work of being a faculty member. Developed and expanded my professional network in deep rather than superficial ways.

My mental horizons were broadened in a way that hadn’t occurred since I began teaching four years ago.  My mind was stretched in many different directions and was filled with wonderful hope for a fresh new start to my career. 

To develop skills in being self-reflective in your teaching and gain the help of peers in our professional life
To acquire ideas and materials useful for improving your departments graduate training in teaching and professional development.
To develop supportive collegial relationships which are not structured around research context (it’s different from annual meetings)

As a new professor, I have often found myself at a loss for ideas to make my classes stimulating, relevant, and remembered.  This workshop has helped me to organize my concepts regarding teaching.  I believe this workshop will be one of the most important influences for my teaching career.

For the advanced Ph.D. student or the first year professor, this course provides a forum for discussing the range of teaching and research issues often encountered.  Because of increasing financial and cultural pressures imposed on Universities, the cultivation of survival strategies for new faculty is weakening.  This course addresses the need for mentoring in our dynamic academic environment.

You should go to that workshop because it will greatly clarify the various roles you may play as a university professor, and it will provide you with tools and strategies to play these roles well.  It will provide you with the ideas for developing good habits that will improve the quality of your professional and personal life. 

-It is a tremendous opportunity to share ideas
-It allows you a focused time to delve into the issues we all face
-It is a great way to interact with other geographers in a friendly, no pressure, no ego environment which is in sharp contrast to the AAG and other conferences.

This workshop is an invaluable opportunity to learn how the trades of academic life can be happily and productively woven together.  I found that the workshop taught me how to balance the teaching, research, service and personal aspects of my life in a way that is newly invigorating.

The chance to gather and spend a week with other geographers, from a variety of institutional forms, and actively discussing, thinking about, and trying out innovative teaching techniques is valuable.

You should attend the GFDA because…it provides you with a super opportunity to be thankful that you chose geography as a career.  You will be re-invigorated with the passion for the discipline.  This is a good time for geography and the knowledge gained will help you now and in the future. 

-You will meet other academic geographers in an informal setting
-You will be given a plethora of information and strategies for student and personal success
-You will have an opportunity to be reinvigorated about teaching, researching, and being a geographer!  

Invaluable moments of shared experiences, ideas, techniques, and materials.  This workshop served as a reminder of the community of geographers and how we can mentor and appreciate each other. 

For meaningful and practical advice on being a new faculty in a university setting, and for a wonderful chance to meet similar new faculty and network.  To show you that you are not the only on struggling or trying to grasp how to succeed in your chosen career and to get real advice on how to not only survive bur thrive. Also because it is loads of fun, you get lots of great information and advice from both your peers and from the wonderful senior faculty who give up their time to pass on what they’ve learnt and to illustrate to us what being successful really means – they teach us in part as examples who love their work! 

Unlike association meetings and other summer institutes I’ve attended that focused on content or process, this faculty development workshop did both.  As a mid-career professional with part-time teaching responsibilities, the GFDA was a catalyst for course design and active learning pedagogy.  An extraordinary experience, really.

1.    Establish friendship and professional connections with other young faculty.
2.    Explore vast resources that help individual in the classes
3.    Become more clear of professional goals and responsibilities as a professor in Geography
4.    Gain inspirations from peers that are successful and happy in their jobs.
5.    Open your horizons in your career.
6.    Gain momentum in your professional development (Like a gas station to get more energy for your car)   

Today’s lunch conversation with a fellow community college geographer illustrates a very valuable component of the workshop: Mike and I were networking while enjoying lunch – we discussed choosing textbooks for students in our similar institutions – how our background strengths were different yet complemented on another – and much more.  At one point we looked across the table and two other workshop participants were thinking through sketching something concerning a research project.  At meals we really learned a great deal form on another – meal time was a discussion – extension of the formal network activities.

There are many reasons to come to the workshop, but specifically it offers very valuable enrichment ideas for the courses you teach, plus offers invaluable guidance and discussion on the many issues we confront in our professional lives.  The workshop provides the opportunity to share ideas on many topics with colleagues, and to begin or expand a support network which can be continued at conferences.

While in graduate school, did you ever take a course entitled “how to teach in higher education” or “how to manage research, teaching, and service” or “how to be a successful academic”?  If you didn’t you might ask yourself how exactly you know how to do your job.  This workshop is a collaborative, self-help, group activity, role-playing, mentoring beginning to a long journey on how to be a professor.

1.    Build network of other junior faculty
2.    Learn more about what it is you should prioritize in class prep, research, daily activities
3.    Share your experiences to help others in your cohort
4.    Solve problems that occur in teaching (by working in a collaborative environment)
5.    Get to know people in Geography who focus on education and professional development.

It is very helpful in beefing up areas of weakness or concern.  The small sessions, as well as the large classes, cover a wide range of issues important to new faculty.  It is possible to get to a better comfort level about your concerns by knowing others share them, and there are ways to address them.  The paper writing session, for me, was the most valuable.   

Simply meeting a group of people and sharing experience are worth the week time that you will spend.  

The issues and challenges facing new faculty, while appearing to be overwhelming at times, are shared by all or many of your colleagues at other institutions.  This workshop provides an opportunity to focus on and articulate these problems, ways to change and improve one’s teaching and research activities, and interact with your peers in an exchange of ideas and support.  Doing all this in the context of geography is especially helpful. 

More experienced faculty would gain a wealth of new, fresh ideas that they could use to update their own courses.  It would make them re-think their syllabi, question why they were doing things the way they were, and perhaps bring some excitement (if they had lost it) back to teaching.  The workshop shows that there are different ways to teach and to learn.  It provides an environment for brainstorming and sharing ideas. 

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