Faculty management at a distance has its challenges, whether or not the faculty members are full time or adjuncts. Developing community is vital to establish a connection between the university and faculty as well as amongst faculty. It also reinforces to all faculty, regardless as to their rank, that their participation and efforts are valued. The best way to do this is through faculty meetings.
Here are seven simple tips will assist in the development of meaningful faculty meetings:
- Require Faculty Presence at Meetings…. but be flexible! A good strategy is to offer the same meeting several times to accommodate different schedules and times zones. Keep the meetings at the same times and days and use the same access codes. For example: the first Tuesday am ET, Wednesday afternoon ET and Thursday evening ET of each month. Record the meeting if possible and provide faculty members a link if they couldn’t attend the life session.
- Provide Useful Content at the Meetings: It’s great to review policies and procedures, but mix it up! Invite a guest presenter from a support service like the library, or ask a faculty member to present something. Just like teaching a course, guest lecturers keep things fresh as well as help to identify and develop particular faculty for more administrative roles that may develop in the future. Consider giving guest speakers a badge or some other visual recognition they can add to the email signature or faculty file. Additionally, try at each meeting to highlight a specific piece of technology, software or app, particularly if it is a free service. Give a ten or fifteen minute demonstration of how the technology works, explain how it would be useful and give faculty members a contact to help answer any subsequent questions.
- Design Interactive Meetings: There are many examples of software available, so even free, that will allow a faculty meeting to be more engaging than just a phone call. Options include adobe connect, whiteboards, or google hangouts. Even consider using a cam for a visual add on to the meeting.
- Bridge meetings: Follow up the faculty meeting with an asynchronous Discussion Board topic in a common area. Ask faculty to respond to the post and each other to further develop both ideas as well as community.
- And Speaking of that Common Area: Create faculty only common space to post useful documents and “water cooler” space for faculty to congregate. Space can be allocated for different schools or programs within the university, or even for groups of instructors that all teach the same course. This allows faculty members the opportunity to develop those colleague relationships that is so vital for teamwork.
- Require a New Hire Orientation Meeting: The new hire session can be used to review common questions of new faculty and provide them with necessary resources to ensure that the faculty training is complete. It will also alleviate going over policies and procedures that more seasoned faculty members already implement. This also introduces new faculty to other new faculty and begins the development of a cohort community.
- Use Social Media: Facebook groups are an excellent way to “get offline” but still congregate as a group. These groups can be set to private, and invited members not only do not have to be friends, but they will not have access to profiles and personal information like pictures and status updates. Another option is Twitter or other microblogging programs. This allows faculty to instantly connect, send ideas or current events. As with all social media, I recommend keeping both a personal and a professional profile and be compliant with the social media policy of your university.