Monthly Archives: March 2022

Faculty Governance Update — March 2022


Thursday, March 31, 2022

A Message from Michael Robbins, President, Collegewide Faculty Association

As we leave March and enter into spring proper, I’m thinking a lot about renewal. I wanted to take a moment to recognize that we’ve gone through numerous transitions over the last year. The College has seen many changes: New leadership, refreshed models for governance, renewed organizational structures and transitions back to campus after having to completely rethink some of our practices for teaching.

I know this has been difficult for some faculty. Transitions, changes, revising, assessing: These practices uproot comforts that we’ve grown accustomed to. I too have felt this, from time-to-time. But assessment and change is a vital part of higher education. In my mind, it is the most vital part. There’s a need to evaluate and ask questions, to really consider if our previous practices were what’s best for the College, and if what we’re doing will improve the lives of our students and our community.

That’s why I’m excited for what’s coming. Our new practices are striving for equity. We’re looking for ways to bring more voices into the College, and really questioning if we’ve reached everyone we could reach in the past. This isn’t an indictment of our previous practices; change doesn’t mean previous practices weren’t successful. But change recognizes that previous practices weren’t perfect, and change recognizes a landscape that’s shifting and requires new ways of thinking.

I bring this up because I can often hear an edge of cynicism when speaking to some of my colleagues. I’m not talking about healthy skepticism or questioning authority … I always approve of healthy skepticism and questioning authority. Rather than seeing appropriate skepticism and questioning, I see blind speculation. Conspiratorial rumors. Unfounded concerns.

I don’t ask any of you to stop being appropriately skeptical or to stop questioning. I’m feeling optimistic, not foolish. But I’ll tell you the same thing I tell my students: Blind naysaying isn’t the same as being skeptical. Skepticism is only helpful with appropriate research, or when coupled with discourse. It requires a capacity for critical thinking, not just of ideas you find disquieting, but of your own ideas and reactions. It requires conversation.

If you have a concern, reach out to someone in the know. Contact me, or contact a leader at your campus in the Faculty Association. Contact a leader at the College. Find out if there are conversations happening on topics you’re concerned about. I try to respond to as many inquiries and messages as I can. If I miss a message you sent, please don’t hesitate to reach out and remind me that you had an inquiry. I may not have the exact response you want, but I can at least tell you more about the conversation or any existing plans the College has.

I wanted to end on a high note: We have faculty who have volunteered to continue the important conversations we’ve had over the last two years. In the next month, I’ll be sending you all our nominees for the next Faculty Association vice president (2022-2023), who will eventually serve as your Faculty Association president (2023-2024). Keep an eye on your email, and please remember to vote when you receive your ballot. And if you’re still concerned about what’s happening at the College, remember that change is guided by those who show up. Participate in conversations and discussions, and come ready to offer solutions.

If you have any questions, please contact me via email at mrobbins9@valenciacollege.edu.

Monthly Archives: March 2022

Sunsetting Our COVID-19 Protocols

Wednesday, March 30, 2022

A Message from Amy Bosley, Vice President, Institutional Planning and Development, and Chief of Staff  

After more than two long years of living through the coronavirus pandemic, we have learned so much about our ability to innovate while working through change and uncertainty. Our resilience and commitment to learning, as we kept our health and safety a priority, was made evident by our transition of more than 4,000 course sections to online in less than two weeks, moving our in-person student services to a virtual environment, establishing illness reporting and contract tracing protocols, and updating our cleaning, sanitation and indoor air quality — just to name a few. Thank you for each and every way you contributed to helping us serve our community and one another during this remarkable time.

The past two years have brought much innovation in new ways of keeping ourselves healthy and safe. Vaccines and tests are now widely available and accessible, effective treatments for the virus are readily available, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) COVID county tracker transmission status shows the transmission rate for Orange and Osceola counties as low. The CDC guidance continues to reflect that people may choose to wear a mask at any time, and those with symptoms, a positive test or exposure to someone with COVID-19, should wear a mask.

In conjunction with lower transmission rates in Orange and Osceola counties, at Valencia, we’ve also experienced a reduction in the number of COVID cases for individuals who have been on campus during their infectious period. Our COVID Case Management team is currently tracking four cases (as of Tuesday, March 29, 2022), which is down significantly from this year’s peak of 136 cases tracked on Friday, January 7, 2022.

Based on this data, Valencia College will adjust our COVID-19 protocols and operations as follows:

Mask Protocol
In accordance with our previously communicated plans, when Orange and Osceola COVID transmission has been “medium or low” for 30 days, we will change our mask protocol to “masks welcomed.” On Friday, March 4, 2022, both counties moved below high transmission and have remained at low transmission since.

As of Saturday, April 2, 2022, we will move from “Masks Expected” to “Masks Welcomed” on all Valencia campuses and locations. The signage on our campuses and locations will be changed over the weekend to reflect the change in protocol. Masks will continue to be available in our Campus Security offices and our classrooms for employees and students.

Sunsetting Our COVID-19 Protocols
Effective at the end of the spring term on Saturday, April 30, 2022, we will sunset our COVID-19 protocols. Starting on Sunday, May 1, 2022, operations will return to pre-pandemic conditions including:

  • The COVID-19 Case Management team will cease operations, including illness reporting and contact tracing. COVID will be handled as other illnesses, such as the flu, where employees report their illness to their supervisor and are encouraged to stay home if feeling ill. Please join us in thanking Tanya Mahan and Angelica Munoz Garcia for their steadfast, thorough, and compassionate work throughout this remarkable time.
  • We will add additional in-person classes during our summer term as we ramp up for fall, and on-site classes will return to regular capacity in the Fall 2022 semester. We look forward to welcoming more students to on-campus services, classes, and co-curricular experiences.
  • Work locations, whether in-person, remote or hybrid, will be determined by your vice president-level supervisor or interim campus president/provost, based on the needs identified to best support our students.
  • COVID leave with pay will be discontinued.
  • Vaccination leave with pay will end on its previously scheduled date of Tuesday, May 31, 2022.
  • If you have a disability that may impact your ability to perform the essential functions of your job, you may contact Jennifer Page, director, leave and access services, at jpage@valenciacollege.edu or 407-582-8032 to inquire about reasonable accommodations through the Americans with Disabilities Act.

For questions about these upcoming changes, I invite you to attend the final Roadmap to Reopening town hall:

Date: Wednesday, April 20, 2022
Time: 3 – 4 p.m.
Location: Zoom

You may also reach out to me directly at abosley@valenciacollege.edu or 407-582-8255.

As we return to more in-person interactions, I encourage each of you to continue to support each other and give grace to your colleagues and students who may feel sick and need to stay home.

Thank you again for your hard work, for rising to meet the challenges presented by this pandemic and your unwavering support of our students and each other. I’m looking forward to seeing our campuses bustling again this fall and I hope you are, too.

Monthly Archives: March 2022

Faculty Ombuds Representatives Encourage Open Communication With Students and Supervisors


Wednesday, March 30, 2022

A Message from Ramon Velez-Cruz and Ann Heiny, Faculty Ombuds Representatives

In this month’s article, we explore how faculty can benefit from actively communicating with their students and supervisors.

For decades, a respectable piece of advice was to not talk openly about our feelings and troubles, especially in the workplace. Individuals may have felt tension with a co-worker or perceived disappointment from a supervisor but never created the opportunity to clarify expectations, needs and emotions. The result could be years of discomfort at work or even searching for a new job to escape the awkwardness or alienation. In regard to students, miscommunication or lack of communication with them could create perceived discrepancies over class policies, with results ranging from tense conversations to poor student performance to formal student complaints.

As faculty ombuds representatives, we encourage open communication that will result in authentic relationships and clear understanding, as well as reducing chronic stress in our lives.

As a society, we have become more open and empathetic to the idea of talking about our feelings, although some are still hesitant to reach out and talk to someone for help. Putting feelings into words helps us relate to the problem differently. Research has shown that when we put feelings into words, we activate a part of our brain called the amygdala. This activation was described as almost like hitting the brakes of a car on our emotional response.

Talking about our thoughts and feelings slows down impulsive reactions and allows us to formulate rational options. This allows us to make more productive decisions. In application, perhaps, next time we want to generate a change in communication, we can try putting feelings into words and exploring solutions rather than allowing feelings to fester and become more and more negative (Lieberman, Eisenberger, Crockett, Pfeifer & Way, 2007; Wolpert, 2007).

Right now, many faculty members may be facing issues with student absences. The question is, how do we handle students disappearing from our courses for extended periods then possibly resurfacing with the expectation that they can complete all the work late and still earn their desired final grade? Communication may be a key factor to a successful resolution.

A clear attendance policy in the syllabus creates a strong foundation for students’ understanding and decreases the need for negotiation. Classroom discussion of the attendance policy and expectations the first week of the semester also goes a long way toward understanding. We are still able to make exceptions for individual circumstances, with a clearly communicated general policy that will address most concerns on the matter. The same may be said about communicating certain needs with our dean or discipline chairs through thoughtful and meaningful communication to avoid issues in the future.

As we mentioned in our October Grove and Faculty Insight article, if encountering a conflict, communicate with open-ended questions to help clarify the situation. Having this insight may help ease tensions. Always seek to understand. When asking clarifying questions, seek to comprehend and not to challenge.

Students are responsible for communicating absences or course issues to us, and we are responsible for responding to those in careful, equitable and thoughtful ways. We need to keep our students and campus leadership up-to-date with the content and happenings in our courses, especially when novel or contentious situations arise. While we might allow students to attend certain courses via Zoom for a quarantine-related absence, it is vital to communicate these things to our students every chance we get. As instructors, we should offer equitable options that students are given to stay up-to-date in our courses. Perhaps we can ask students to share their preferred method of communication to help encourage an open dialogue. Whether with students, colleagues, or leadership, communication is key.

If you need help finding the best way to engage in open dialogue, feel free to connect with us by contacting Ann at aheiny@valenciacollege.edu and Ramon at rvelez20@valenciacollege.edu.

Monthly Archives: March 2022

TLA Opportunities: Multiple Perspectives and Developing Effective Surveys


Wednesday, March 30, 2022

The Teaching/Learning Academy (TLA), a community of practice, supports new professors, counselors and librarians as they develop Individualized Learning Plans, a fundamental phase of the tenure process, designed to assist tenure candidates in expanding and improving their professional practices and students’ learning. The goal of the TLA is to help tenure-track faculty members develop a reflective approach to their teaching that is anchored in the tenets of action research and the Essential Competencies of a Valencia Educator. The TLA provides support on pedagogy, course design, student development and professional portfolio development.

TLA will offer the following courses:

INDV2255 Multiple Perspectives
Date: Thursday, April 7 or Friday, April 8, 2022
Time: 2 – 4 p.m.
Location: Online. Register here. 

In this seminar, participants will investigate teaching strategies to improve students’ ability to engage in conversations with alternative viewpoints. Participants will reflect on ways to reveal the importance of recognizing and engaging multiple perspectives as well as ways to motivate students to learn from reputable sources.

SOTL2272 Developing Effective Surveys
Date: Monday, April 4 – Sunday, April 10, 2022
Time: Self-paced
Location: Online. Register here.

In this hands-on session, participants will learn the benefits of the common survey types, learn tips on how to write effective survey questions, and collaboratively assess sample surveys. Participants will have the opportunity to apply these principles to their own work.

Monthly Archives: March 2022

Summer Books Soon Available to Order Through the Campus Store


Wednesday, March 30, 2021

Students may now view their books and instructional materials for the Summer 2022 term through the Campus Store.

Starting on Monday, April 4, 2022, books can be ordered 24/7 and delivered by mail to the student’s home address. Free shipping is available through Monday, June 13, 2022.

Students may also have their books delivered to the VC Vault, our safe, secure and reliable, intelligent parcel locker system, where students can pick up their orders 24 hours a day, seven days a week (at most locations). For more information, visit the VC Vault webpage.

As a reminder, books will no longer be sold in the Campus Store locations.

If you have questions, contact Mona Liza Colon, director, auxiliary services, at mcolon6@valenciacollege.edu or by phone at 407-582-3434.

Monthly Archives: March 2022

Now’s the Time to Focus on Building a Healthier You: Enroll in a YMCA Membership


Wednesday, March 30, 2022

A Message from Tom Keller, Director, Total Rewards

Valencia College, in partnership with the YMCA of Central Florida, is proud to support you on your health and wellness journey.

Through your Total Rewards, you and your family can enjoy preferred pricing on a YMCA of Central Florida membership. Valencia will subsidize 20% of your individual or household membership, and the YMCA will waive the Join Fee for full-time faculty and staff. Payroll deductions will be set up for the remaining portion of your YMCA membership after the Valencia subsidy amount is subtracted. Additionally, those enrolled in a Valencia College YMCA membership are eligible for member pricing on programs for enrolled family members, including aquatics and sports leagues.

Learn more about these special YMCA rates by clicking the button below:

 
The YMCA membership drive is taking place from Monday, March 28 through Friday, April 15, 2022. To enroll, change or cancel a membership, visit your local YMCA of Central Florida, let them know you want to enroll as a Valencia employee and they’ll take care of the rest. To find a YMCA location nearest you, visit ymcacentralflorida.com.

If you have questions or would like additional information about our YMCA benefit, contact the Total Rewards team at benefits@valenciacollege.edu or call the HR4U helpline at 407-582-HR4U (4748). If you have any questions about the Y’s programs, email valenciacollege@cfymca.org.

Monthly Archives: March 2022

Saturday Is International Children’s Book Day; See Your Colleague’s Favorite Children’s Books

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

In honor of International Children’s Book Day, celebrated every year on April 2, we asked Valencia faculty and staff to tell us their favorite children’s books.

We loved reading your stories and viewing your photos about which books still hold a special place in your heart from your childhood, and which ones are new favorites that you’ve discovered with your children and grandchildren.

We are pleased to present the video compilation that we created from all of the submissions.

Monthly Archives: March 2022

Faculty Highlight: Richard Thomas Levels Up Teaching With Action Research

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

By Jennifer Keefe

Step inside Richard Thomas’ classroom and you are immediately on a quest.

Dr. Minchan, the cybernetically enhanced rebel of the Resistance Army, might be encouraging you to engage with what you are reading more intentionally, or you might be traveling around the Hermagora Galaxy debunking myths using Carl Sagan’s Baloney Detection Kit.

That’s because Richard, professor, English, East Campus has turned his ENC 1101 and 1102 classes into gamified explorations of concepts related to writing and research.

Students in his classes earn not only grades but also points that give them a place on his leaderboard, which shows them their rank in the game compared to other students in the class.

Like a real video game, students also have a health bar that goes down if they miss or turn in an assignment draft late.

Richard is currently in the third year of his tenure process.

He’s playing around with his gamified courses for his action research project.

When he started planning his project, he looked at what his goal was for his students first.

“I started with the premise that my students needed to improve their writing, and the way to do that was to use the writing process of draft-feedback-rewrite,” Richard explains.

But what he found was that students weren’t doing the drafts. They were just skipping levels and turning in final papers for grades. Richard’s fundamental question became, “how do I get more drafts from students?”

The answer was gamification.

With his research, Richard was trying to test Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky’s Theory of Loss Aversion.

In a nutshell, loss aversion is the idea that the pain associated with losing something, in this case, hearts in a composition class, was more motivating than the joy of gaining extra credit or a bonus in the class.

Prior to researching about loss aversion, Richard hypothesized that instead of penalizing students by deducting hearts from their health bar, he could incentivize on-time draft submissions by rewarding them a heart each time they turned in a draft. He thought a rewards-based model such as this would foster a growth-mindset in students and develop a more positive attitude toward paper writing, but that was not the case. He’s still going through the results of his research, but Richard already says he’s realized that the punitive model is much more motivating than the reward-based model.

He’s still going through the results of his research, but Richard already says he’s realized that penalizing them and taking away health for not doing the work is more effective than raising the health bar for work turned in.

Richard says he still supports gamification as part of his teaching methodology, but he says he might be the one learning the big lesson here.

“What I learned from this is that the TLA embraces failure,” he explains.

“We all learn from it,” he adds.

But not proving his hypothesis hasn’t meant “game over” for the game-based format of Richard’s classes.

Instead, he plans to revamp his assessment plan once he has fully interpreted the results of his action research project.

He explains, “If I want students to feel a sense of mastery, that mastery is perhaps best achieved when their gamified accomplishments are explicitly aligned with the course’s concepts or skills.”

Richard earned a master’s degree in English language and literature from the University of Colorado at Boulder and a bachelor’s degree in English language and literature from the University of California at Berkeley.

He began his teaching career as a part-time professor of English at Colorado Technical College’s Early College program in 2012.

He also taught English at Pike’s Peak Community College and rhetoric and composition at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs.

Richard came to Valencia in the fall of 2016 on a 10-month contract and became a full-time, tenure-seeking professor in the fall of 2018.

He has actually used gamification in his classes for about the past 10 years.

So many of his classes in Colorado Springs focused on technology that he realized gamifying them made sense.

Gamification isn’t just reserved for Richard’s online classes. His face-to-face classes get to play with language, too.

For example, he plays a game with them he calls 30 Random Words. In the game, groups of students sort the words into five boxes based on themes the groups each agree to.

Through a process he calls COG (connecting, ordering, grouping), the students connect the words by a chosen common theme in the boxes, order the boxes, and then group the boxes to form a thesis by showing how the words are connected.

They understand more about the process of developing a good thesis by the end of the exercise.

The end of the exercise is when Richard also reveals that none of the words are actually related.

He says the exercise “takes the concept of organization that they relate to and applies it to writing in an immersive experience.”

One of Richard’s best practices as an instructor has to do with feedback.

He tries to give his students feedback on drafts and papers within 48 hours so that they can continue the draft-feedback-rewrite process with as little interruption as possible.

He does this by using his tablet pen and the Canvas audio feedback feature.

He also utilizes a technique called view-comment-question where students watch a video, take notes, and then are required to submit questions about the concept to him. He answers the questions as part of his feedback.

Richard says all of his activities focus on a growth mindset for students.

He says he “wants to give students space to fail and to learn from failure.”

Do you know a faculty member doing great work? Or, perhaps you’d like to share the work you’re doing? Send the colleague’s (or your) name to us at The_Grove@valenciacollege.edu and include Faculty Highlight Nomination in the subject line of your email. We might just feature your colleague (or you) as an upcoming Faculty Highlight

Monthly Archives: March 2022

The Top Five Things to Know About Our Governance Refresh

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

A Message from Katie Tagye, Director, Organizational Design and Development

As shared previously, our collaborative governance system has been refreshed, and on Friday, April 8, 2022, we will launch our new strategic councils. Here are the top five things to know about our strategic councils:

1. What is changing?
On Friday, April 8, 2022, we will add to our shared governance system three, new strategic councils — the Academic Programs Council, the Equity Council and the Student Experience Council — in addition to our existing Learning Council. The strategic councils align with our institutional plans to design, build and execute collegewide strategies to reach our Strategic Impact Plan goals. The role of the four strategic councils are as follows:

  • The Academic Programs Council will coordinate and align plans for new program development and significant improvements to existing programs, as well as evaluate programs to diminish or sunset to meet the goals of the Impact Plan, coordinating its work with that of the workforce deans team. In addition, the Academic Programs Council will monitor and update the strategic enrollment plan.
  • The Equity Council will coordinate and oversee plans to deploy specific and targeted strategies to advance the College’s equity goals for students, employees and the community.
  • The Student Experience Council will coordinate and oversee plans to modify or supplement the support and opportunities for engagement we provide to students to meet the goals of the Impact Plan.
  • The Learning Council will oversee the College’s work toward achievement of the core mission — learning — and coordinate strategies related to collegewide curricular initiatives and learning support systems to meet the goals of the Impact Plan.

2. The role of the Faculty Council will not change.
The Faculty Council will continue to engage the faculty and leadership of the College in matters relating to advancing the quality of teaching and learning. The Faculty Council provides the official voice of the faculty in matters of college governance, faculty rights, privileges, responsibilities, curriculum and pedagogy. The Faculty Council represents the Faculty Association (composed of all full-time faculty).

3. Why are we refreshing governance?
We are solving for three challenges that emerged during our Winter Governance meeting in January 2021:

  • How might we add more capacity, leadership, accountability and stewardship of the work within our governance system?
  • In what ways might we strengthen our collaborative governance’s communication, systems and habits?
  • Who may not feel heard in our current system and how might we ensure inclusion?

4. Our outcomes, values and beliefs will not change. 
Our collaborative governance system will continue to help us achieve the outcomes of better decisions and greater trust. Our value and belief that our work is better when it is informed by many perspectives will remain.

5. We are improving strategic council communication.
We are simplifying our communication to help improve employees’ understanding of the work of our strategic councils. Quarterly, we will share the top five things to know about our strategic councils, similar to this update. In addition, we will host quarterly Strategic Council Town Halls to provide a brief overview of the important work taking place. You’re invited to attend the first one in June. Event details are below:

Strategic Council Town Hall
Date: Thursday, June 16, 2022
Time: 2 – 3 p.m. 
Location: Zoom

If you have any questions or would like to talk further about governance refresh, please email me at ktagye@valenciacollege.eduAmy Bosley, vice president, institutional planning and development, and chief of staff, at abosley@valenciacollege.edu or Darren Smith, director, institutional effectiveness, at dsmith335@valenciacollege.edu.

Monthly Archives: March 2022

Edna Jones Miller Featured on UnionWest at Creative Village Website

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

Kudos to Dean of Student Engagement and Partnerships Edna Jones Miller, who was recently featured on the UnionWest at Creative Village website in celebration of Women’s History Month.

Edna shared some advice for women wanting to get into higher education.

“Silence your inner critic because you are what you think,” she shared. “We can often be our biggest critics, and we must learn to become our biggest cheerleaders. Master your mindset, think positive thoughts and encourage yourself that you can do whatever you set your mind to.”

Click here to read the full article.