Hitting the Books and Sharing Ideas with LACC Instructors
Shortly after being hired as full-time faculty in noncredit and adult education at City College, former adjuncts Kimberly Guppy (pictured at right) and Martha Clayton (at left) did exactly what you would expect energized and engaged AFT 1521 members to do: They started a book club.
OK, maybe this isn’t exactly what you’d expect, and the reading list isn’t on par with something Oprah Winfrey might put together. Nonetheless, this two-person book club is every bit in sync with the ways that these friends and colleagues approach their work.
“Both of us are go-getters,” says Guppy, who began teaching at City in January of 2017. “When it comes to learning new things, we’re always at the front of the classroom to learn and share something with others.”
At a training a couple of years ago, Guppy encountered the books Leading Every Day: Actions for Effective Leadership by Joyce S. Kaser, Susan E. Mundry, Katherine E. Stiles, and Susan Loucks-Horsley and Building a Professional Learning Community at Work a Guide to the First Year by Parry Graham and William M. Ferriter. She recommended the two books to Clayton and the two instructors decided to read them together and meet weekly to discuss the ideas that the books were sparking.
The book club is not the only forum these instructors use for brainstorming and creativity. Both are regular participants in the twice monthly Zoom get-togethers of the college’s Noncredit and Adult Education faculty. In the early months of the COVID pandemic, the meetings were a way for people to get support and stay connected. They have since evolved into an open forum during which attendees can share ideas, tech tips and resources. Numbers of attendees range from six to 25, and faculty from sister LACCD colleges have been known to drop in as well.
“We’re always looking for ways to try to do better, not only to help students succeed but also the team of people we work with,” Guppy said. “We talk about how the concepts we are learning in the text relate to what we’re doing in the classroom and what we’re doing with our program. It’s good to have someone to talk through concepts and ideas and apply them to work situations.”
“It really helps me think about the bigger picture instead of just focusing on ESL,” added Clayton. “If we’re thinking about how an idea can affect basic skills, maybe we can see a way to bring people together and create something that is really meaningful to students.”
“Even when it’s a full-on rap session, we always try to have some sort of product takeaway so that we all learn a new skill or some new information about something we need,” Clayton said. “We are definitely trying to have it be outcome-focused.”