What I learned interning in a Community College classroom

In Fall 2014, I entered the Faculty Diversity Internship Program (FDIP) at the Los Rios Community College District in Sacramento, California. I’ve already written about the first phase of the program, which consisted of 6 day-long workshops covering a range of topics related to college teaching and the community college environment. The second phase of the internship is basically a student-teaching experience, where interns are placed into a class at one of the Los Rios colleges for a full semester to observe an experienced instructor, teach, and get feedback from the instructor and students. I completed my internship in BIOL310 (General Biology with lab for non-majors) at American River College, under the guidance of Dr. Rick Topinka.

The internship experience was great – Rick was flexible and willing to let me do as much teaching as I was comfortable with. I learned a lot about college teaching in general and about what to expect from teaching at a community college in particular. Here are some of my main takeaways from the experience: Continue reading

My experience with the Los Rios Faculty Diversity Internship Program: Part 2

This is the second article in a two-part series about my experiences with the Fall 2014 workshop series associated with the Faculty Diversity Internship Program (FDIP) at the Los Rios Community College District. For a more thorough background on the program and to read about the first three workshops in the series, please see my previous post.

The last three workshops were led by Dr. Will Davis, who is a professor of biology and director of the MESA program at American River College. Will’s workshops focused on the practical aspects of teaching in the community college classroom.

Week 4

The focus of this workshop was on Continue reading

My experience with the Los Rios Faculty Diversity Internship Program: Part 1

In September, I was accepted into the Faculty Diversity Intership Program (FDIP) at the Los Rios Community College District in Sacramento, California.  The goal of the FDIP is to recruit prospective community college faculty members from a diverse range of backgrounds and prepare them to be successful as community college instructors. The program has two phases. In the fall, interns attend a series of 6 half-day workshops which cover a variety of topics related to effective college teaching as well as issues specific to community colleges. These workshops prepare participants to make the most of the second phase of the internship, where they spend a full semester in a community college class observing, and eventually co-teaching with an experienced instructor. I have just completed the fall workshop series and will devote this post to reflecting on what I learned during the first three workshops. I discuss the second three workshops in a subsequent post. Continue reading

Book Review: “Building a Career in America’s Community Colleges”

If you’ve spent much time looking around my blog, you know that I am very interested in a career in college teaching. This interest has led me to look very closely at community colleges as a good option. I really like what I’ve seen so far – particularly the strong focus on teaching, small class sizes, and the mission of helping all students learn. However, my educational experiences thus far have all been at large research-focused state universities. This means that before I can make the case that I’m a good fit for a position at a community college, I need to learn more about how these institutions work and what it means to be a teacher at one.

As part of this learning process, I recently read “Building a Career in America’s Community Colleges,” by Rob Jenkins, a long-time community college faculty member and administrator. Continue reading

Community College Teaching: A Closer Look

I recently took a couple of opportunities to learn more about teaching science in the Los Rios Community College District – a group of 4 community colleges that serve the Sacramento area. The first opportunity was the result of an email I sent several weeks ago to a friend of mine who teaches chemistry at Sacramento City College (the oldest and second largest Los Rios campus) asking for suggestions of biology faculty that might be open for an informational interview. He suggested that I contact Dr. Ken Naganuma, who agreed to meet with me and let me sit in on a session of his Cell and Molecular Biology course. Continue reading