SMC Flex Day transforms faculty into students

For many SMC students, Thursday, March 15 will be merely a day off. For faculty members, it will be a day of workshops and lectures ranging from the importance of sleep to how to capture the attention of disinterested students. The day is called Flex Day. Faculty members will be transformed into students as they attend lectures and workshops from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Topics include academic integrity, sustainability, the importance of technological tools in education, and how to achieve happiness among others.

“It is important for faculty to keep up with the research and trends in education and their disciplines so that they can properly educate their students,” said Patricia Burson, co-chair of the Professional Development Committee. “Maintaining currency in their discipline is an expectation of faculty.”

The Professional Development Committee at SMC consists of faculty representatives, administration, and classified staff. They organize workshops, handle funding for individual professional development, and coordinate special professional development days.

SMC Flex Day takes place twice a year in the fall and spring. The term Flex refers to professional development activities in the California Community College system. All colleges in the system are required to devote a certain number of days to those activities.

According to Burson, Flex Day gives faculty the opportunity to come together to discuss issues as well as come up with innovative ideas to enhance the teaching experience.

“The sharing builds community, and is meant to help us all better serve our students,” said Burson. “Students are at the center of the Flex activities, because the activities are meant to help faculty enhance their skills or knowledge

to benefit the students.”

Co-chair of the Professional Development Committee, Steve Hunt, said that committee members and various interest groups on campus work together to come up with topics for the Flex Day. They also develop strategies on how to best achieve the goal of providing quality education to students.

”This helps us keep a dynamic forward-thinking college that keeps moving into the future,” said Hunt.

Aside from the two SMC Flex Days in fall and spring that focus on institutional issues, three departmental professional development days are also held each year to discuss department related issues.

Additionally, faculty members are required to spend a certain number of hours per year on individual activities related to professional development. According to Hunt, these initiatives are meant to help teachers improve their skills in order for students to have a more dynamic and involved faculty.

“The students benefit from having a faculty that is up-to-date in the latest legal and technological issues and knows what’s going on in the teaching field,” Hunt said.