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Professional Development 2013-14

Sitting here in July and looking back on this past academic year, I am disappointed in myself for
writing this professional development reflection at such a late time. Sarah Fischer and I had multiple sit
down discussions back in the fall and winter (leading up to her substantial evaluation) where I wrote a
few notes on things that we had discussed, but those notes never seemed to take form and present me
with the impetus to reflect back on the year. Additionally, I had conversations with Maria McNeilly-Anta
(many times in the car while carpooling) where we discussed issues of the classroom, and not
surprisingly these conversations did not in my case lead me to write a whole lot down (since I was often
travelling in a car). The conversations in all cases were indeed very helpful and served for good collegial
discussions as well as food for thought during the academic year. In looking through my notes I will do
my nest to reflect on those conversations and form my opinions about the professional development
activities of the 2013-14 academic year.
I think that my strivings to master and put to use the best practices with Canvas, our new Learning
Management System occupied a significant chunk of my time this past year. I really like the
organizational features of Canvas, and hopefully the time I put into creating a clean and clear structure to
my courses will pay off in future years. Achieving a certain degree of mastery in the use of Canvas was
most assuredly one of my goals this year, and I do think that I have succeeded in that area. Additionally I
made many attempts to put the interface to creative use with success and certain degrees of failure. In
looking back at the course evaluations I do think my students recognized this aspect and commented on
it in a positive manner, both from the point of view of successes and failures.
In my Chemistry classes I have continued to work hard to make good use of the Brightlink
projector and its associated computer programs (Inspire). The process of organizing presentation notes
in Inspire, presenting them in class, marking them up with the electronic pens, saving the modified
documents and posting them as notes to the intranet has become a standard practice for me in the
Chemistry classroom. I enjoy this technique and I get great feedback from the students telling me that
they find the notes useful.
I made a purposeful effort this year to truly minimize my paper handouts in Environmental
Science. The ability to organize things in Canvas has made this effort quite achievable. This has extended
to my use of an electronic-text in the class for the past two years. Additionally I found myself reusing and
refining the smaller scale labs that I worked hard at creating 2 years ago. I think one important aspect of
the whole professional development scheme of thinking is that things are not perfected overnight. Ideas
are generated, put into action and they might indeed come to be realized overnight, but they are not
refined and perfected overnight. Continued use of creative classroom exercises, pedagogical techniques
and new lab experiences are a key to my professional development and my professional happiness.
I found this past year that my best efforts, work and successes come in the fall and early winter. It
is a good time to push myself to do new things for the classroom and my classes. Moving ahead into the
spring I find myself increasingly focused on aspects of Commencement, Prom, Scheduling and Summer
Session. I enjoy all of these responsibilities, but I do find that I have to be super well organized in order
to keep me moving ahead with a smile on my face.
Dan Erlandson
July 2014