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Sinclair Community College

Department Newsletter Volume 5, Issue3 Spring 2007

DEV ASSESSMENT NEWSLETTER The Department of Developmental Studies Division of Extended Learning and Human Services

“Assessment at Sinclair is the shared process of purposeful, systematic measurement used to document, reflect upon, and improve student learning.” – adopted by Instructional Council, Spring 2004.

“When I first started doing professional development workshops, I always opened them up the same way: "So what kinds of things are you doing now?" And I always got the same reply: silence. If it isn't polite to ask a group of dinner guests about their religion, it's even worse to ask a group of teachers about their teaching. So, as it turned out, the first lesson about best practice was mine to learn, and I hope I've learned it well: I now start all my workshops by giving away Hawaiian vacations.”

The opening narrative is taken from Steve Peha’s piece “There’s No Practice like Best Practice: Making Sense of the Research, Recommendations, and Rhetoric of Professional Teaching.” While I do not have a Hawaiian vacation to give away, I do have an entire newsletter devoted to reflections of best practices both department and college- wide. And, in the grand scheme of things, isn’t the newsletter more important than some trip to Hawaii? “Best Practices” is not just another catch phrase making the rounds in community colleges. I try and impress upon my students that effective writing is not magic; it actually is governed by rules, which is (hopefully) a positive message for most. Magic is selective and exclusive; rules can be learned, practiced, and improved, which puts the power back in the hands of

the students. Teachers are prone to myths, just as students are. A myth that exists in educational circles portrays the teacher reflecting on his/her philosophy behind closed doors and in an empty room. Some of us want to believe this myth because it is hard to define writing. However, we can not hide behind the myth that teaching is a slippery concept, which defies definition. We all went to school, and we learned about theory and the practice of writing. It did not seem like magic to me when I was asked to define a particular theory of writing during my comprehensive exams. Sharing best practices is where textbook theory meets practical application. If we believe effective teaching is like magic, then we, just as our students, surrender our power to move towards positive change. This edition of the newsletter is a wonderful example of educators who have answered the call to share best practices. These writers and their articles continue to evidence that we are committed to student learning and progress.

I would like to extend my sincere gratitude to Kim, Patti, Katy, and Teresa for their continued support and dedication to this newsletter. I would also like to extend a warm welcome to the newest members of the DEV newsletter family: Beth Withrow, our newest Reading area informant, Kate Geiselman, Assistant Professor of English

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