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January 29, 2012

Project 6 Hours Accountability – New Blog Series

There’s been a lot of talk in the district recently about faculty accountability, especially on my campus (GCC).  Some of the talk is positive, and some could be construed as negative. There is the belief that with the change in the way we deliver instruction that our hours of accountability might also change to meet the needs of our new teaching and/or delivery method. On the other hand, some interpret 6 hours as 6 hours of face time on campus, preferably in the classroom and your office. So at GCC we formed the new Faculty Roles & Responsibilities Committee to discuss issues of  equitable faculty committee assignments, hours of accountability, and office hours that reflect the needs of our students.  In the most recent meeting the committee tried to clarify faculty adherence to the Residential Faculty Policies (RFP). I’ve been in the district for 13 years and I’d never even read the RFP, so I didn’t have much of an opinion at first. But after I started looking at the way I teach and work within Maricopa, I could see how people might not see how I meet my hours of accountability. I decided to spend this semester exploring “6 Hours Accountability” from the view point of a fulltime online/hybrid instructor.

To start, I read section 5.4. Accountability/Professional Responsibilities in our RFP. Riveting stuff. It begins:

Instructional Residential Faculty members are required to meet the thirty (30) hours of professional responsibilities per week.

  • to meet all classes as scheduled;
  • to hold a minimum of five (5) scheduled academic support hours reflective of instructors’ teaching schedules; and
  • to participate in department, division, college, and/or district activities as defined in Section 1.2.20.;

First, where does 6 hours a day even come from? Someone for sure made that up. I think the RFP is easy enough to understand. Meet all classes as scheduled does not designate a location, so an online class is online 24/7. If I go online and teach my class on a daily basis, I’m covered there. I’m sure “daily” will come up at some point, but for now it’s a skip. Holding a minimum of five scheduled academic support hours seems easy enough, but it’s the next part where people have had trouble: reflective of instructors’ teaching schedules. So if I teach online, that should mean I can hold online office hours or if you teach a Monday, Wednesday, Friday schedule, your office hours should be on MWF. That’s how I read that. But then this statement is added:  “All faculty shall meet their hours of accountability/professional responsibilities within the parameters of the day program as defined in Section 1.2.3. unless initially hired under different circumstances or amended by mutual consent.” This means that all office hours and other activities should be done during the day; I presume 8-5pm. That really doesn’t apply for all faculty, although I do hold online office hours in the morning and at night. Should we ignore the fact that many of our students work during the day after class and study at night?

The last part is my favorite. Maricopa is a big district, and why should we limit ourselves to just one campus when we can be involved anywhere in the district. Hey, the RFP supports that: participate in department, division, college, and/or district activities. So who’s job is it to keep track of everyone? The person assigned to me would have to request of weekly agenda or follow me on Twitter. I’m pretty sure that’s what my Department Chair does.

This spring 2012 I really want to explore this notion of “6 hours of accountability” in Maricopa. I’ve been lucky that my Department Chair respects the faculty in her department enough to let us do our jobs and not lay her interpretation of the RFP down with expectations of what she thinks we should be doing. She expects that we will do our jobs and honor the RFP, and most of us do. Hey, I can’t vouch for everyone. The blog posts in this series (Category: 6 Hours) will demonstrate not only how teaching has changed, but how our responsibilities to our students and our campus have also changed. And most importantly these post will reflect how this new approach to teaching may not fit in with what some people are used to in their interpretation of the RFP.

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