#SUNYCIT: Using a Faculty/Staff Reading Group for Professional Development

#SUNYCIT: Using a Faculty/Staff Reading Group for Professional Development

As an avid reader, I was very interested in the presentation that the Oswego team of John Kane, Allison Peer, and Sara Prigodich gave on using a reading group to foster professional development. They not only explored the contents of the books but also shaped instruction based on the books.

Reading Group

According to Kane, Oswego ran two reading groups. He admitted to having great influence on the book selection. The reading group grew out of their faculty symposium when they brought in an author to speak. Faculty suggested a reading group.

The reading group grew out of their faculty symposium when they brought in an author to speak. Faculty originally suggested a reading group. The two books they have explored so far include:

Meeting Times

Using a Doodle poll, faculty members coordinated a time to meet to discuss the books. They held five meetings, typically, discussing two chapters per session. Sessions were held every two weeks.

Interested faculty who could not physically be present at the session could attend virtually using Zoom. This would be ideal for our remote campuses.

The Books

Oswego arranged to purchase a number of physical copies to provide to participants as well as have the library secure unlimited electronic copies. The administration provided top-level support for the initiative and also arranged for the author to be a keynote speaker.


As the reading group progressed, they would talk about how to apply what they were reading. In essence, they were applying interleaving. They created a shared Google document where they would collate strategies.

For specific strategies, they would develop training sessions so they could further develop and practice skills.

The faculty reading group also provided a support system for others. They would be able to provide feedback and discussion around strategies.

Lessons Learned

Here are some of the lessons learned through the experience:

  • Support the initiative with free books
  • Have the administration invite the author in to give a presentation around the book
  • Keep the group casual and comfortable
  • Involve other groups such as student support, residential life, first-year programs, etc.

Next steps

They are exploring badging for the implementation of strategies in the classroom and reflecting on the experience.

Next book will be Small Teaching: Everyday Lessons from the Science of LearningThey are considering opening up the reading group to others outside the Oswego community using virtual technologies.

Personally, I would love to see three reading groups developed at JCC: CELT driven group focusing on instruction; TEI driven group focusing on effective use of technology in the classroom; and an HR-driven group focusing on effective leadership, management, or customer service topics.

Naturally, if you have questions about this presentation, I would be happy to answer them.

What do you think about a reading group at JCC? What book would you recommend? Leave a comment.

Stan Skrabut, Ed.D.

Stan is Director of Technology-Enhanced Instruction. He has over 20 years experience working as an instructional technologist and trainer. He has a master’s degree in computing technology in education and a doctorate in education specializing in instructional technology.

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