PATHWAYS Facilitator Teaching Policy
Effective Date: 2012-11-21; Last Revision Approved: 2017-05-08; Updated on 2018-January-20: Email Course evaluation to Registrar only.
PATHWAYS facilitators are expected to do the following:
- Be in the course room 3 times a week.
- Respond to each participant in a substantive way at least once a week.
- Make communication with participants available via multiple media: phone, email, and the online platform
- Report progress of the course and any concerns (about participants or curriculum) to PATHWAYS staff
Refer needs for technological assistance or training to PATHWAYS staff
- Effectively facilitate the online forum by doing the following:
- Nurture a hospitable learning environment for the participants
- Monitor the progress of participants’ conversation
- Respond substantively to each participant’s initial weekly forum post
- Prompt critical reflection and engagement when responding to posts
- Provide written feedback about course assignments
- Suggest additional reading or resources as applicable to participants’ work and learning goals
- Provide written evaluation at the conclusion of the course for each participant, emailing a copy to the PATHWAYS registrar at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Facilitator posts a weekly summary, if possible.
PATHWAYS Facilitator Training Guidelines 2017 Approved: 2017 May 27
- Guidelines for providing substantive facilitator feedback to the participants in the discussion forum and assignments:
- Be in contact in public forums with each participant at least once a week.
- It’s appropriate to be reflective and challenge participants in comments on postings.
- Responses should convey that you’ve read and understood the posting made, but also invite the participant to go further in their reflections. Sometimes, it’s helpful to share a similar incident or an illustration to engage further thought.
- When addressing personal issues or problematic areas, use the private message function.
- Encourage the use of critical thinking.
- Challenge overly pious platitudes by inviting further reflection. Remember the goal is theological development rather than an exchange of religious truisms.
- Guidelines or policies on maintaining a clear and effective communication with the cohort throughout the course:
- Be present in the course room 3 or 4 times each week. Every other day is appropriate.
- Subscribe to each week’s discussion and assignment posts. This function allows you to know when participants have posted and what was posted.
- Check to see if there are responses to postings you made in the previous weeks. This is not only an indication of participation, but sometimes further questions may have been raised.
- Take advantage of the “Cohort News” discussion area. Post items of interest, which may include other web sites, articles or even humorous items related to the course content.
- Guidelines or tips on herding laggard participants:
- Cohorts often develop a pattern of posting late. When a week in the course is almost over and there are few initial postings, it’s helpful to make a posting in the thread as a reminder. Using humor can be helpful.
- When an individual falls behind, send a private message. Ask if something is preventing them from making a posting. See if assistance is needed. If this happens more than once in a six week class, notify the Director. If you send e-mail because a participant is not active on the course platform, copy the Director on any second or subsequent communication with the participant.
- Guidelines or tips on how to start out and end each week:
- It helps to provide a weekly orientation frame for the participants at the beginning of the week. Some facilitators find it helpful to post an introduction to the week, providing a preview of the course readings and discussions.
- For some courses, it may be helpful to also provide a summary of the weekly discussions at the end of the week, as well. Consider whether this would be helpful for your course work.
- Guidelines or tips on writing participant evaluations:
- Be specific in the evaluations. Make observations on strengths and areas for further growth.
- Focus comments on the actual course work. Make reference to postings and papers.
- Sometimes you may find it appropriate to suggest that a participant consider spiritual direction or further discussion with someone about an issue. Again, relate it to the course work. For example, it’s appropriate to suggest, “What you wrote in several postings suggests that you are trying to discern a call to a particular form of ministry. Perhaps working with a spiritual director would help in that process.”
- Remember that the evaluation is of the participant’s work in the course and not about their fitness for ministry. The Committee or Commission on Ministry in the participant’s Conference/Association determines fitness for ministry. Our role is to evaluate course work performance.
- Additional thoughts for facilitators to bear in mind:
- Relationships among participants may have already been established in other courses. Recognize that you’re probably the new person in the group.
- However, you may already know some of the participants from other courses. Be conscious of any bias toward these participants you may have from previous interaction. Maintain a level of confidentiality about what might have been shared previously by allowing participants to share what you may know about them from previous courses if they feel such sharing is relevant to the current work. Evaluate participants on the current course, not on the previous course. Do note any growth in abilities you see from your previous evaluation(s).
- Be respectful and clear with your expectations as they may be different from other facilitators. Some facilitators set a schedule for posts, responses, and assignments each week, e.g., post your discussion by noon Eastern on Saturday, your responses to others by Monday at 9pm Eastern, and your assignment by noon on Tuesday Eastern. Others may expect everything by a certain time on Tuesday at the end of the course week or close discussion at a specific time on Sunday or Monday to summarize the learning. No one way is right, but do be clear in your initial communications with participants so they can plan their work times accordingly.
- In the event that a participant has an emergency and cannot complete all the work with the rest of the group, work in coordination with the Director on any brief extensions. Most required courses are not offered more than once a year and it may be in the best interest of the participant and the program to offer academic grace for a week or even two under certain circumstances.
PATHWAYS Facilitators Qualification Guidelines Approved 2017-05-08
Facilitation of PATHWAYS courses is a ministry for the global church. Facilitators lead PATHWAYS participants along their educational journey toward further ministry in the church, whether that ministry is authorized or empowering members of local faith-communities. To that end, facilitators of PATHWAYS courses need to demonstrate the qualities reflected in the Marks of Faithful and Effective Ministers in the United Church of Christ whether the facilitator is an authorized minister or a member of the laity.
Facilitators are selected because of their expertise in specific content areas and provide leadership to specific courses. A facilitator uses curriculum developed by PATHWAYS which is based on the Marks of Faithful and Effective Ministry. While facilitators may add supplemental material, the required curriculum does not change from one facilitator to the next for a particular course.
- A doctorate preferred, but a master’s degree in a related field required.
- Demonstrated expertise in subject area
- Prior experience is higher/adult learner education preferred
- Competency with Basic Technology
- Letter of interest
- A current resume or CV (Could a current UCC ministerial profile stand in/supplement this?)
- Two letters of references specifically addressing teaching ability and competence in area to be taught.
- For professional ethical reasons, PATHWAYS requires final candidates for facilitator positions to authorize a criminal background check. PATHWAYS will absorb the cost of this record search; and you will be given an opportunity to address any items of concern before a decision is made by the Advisory Committee regarding an offer of a facilitator position. By completing and signing the information sheet, you are authorizing PATHWAYS to conduct this background check.
- Written response to the PATHWAYS Progressive Christianity Statement
- An exercise to respond to two different course room discussions: one discussion among participants who are focused and engaged; a second discussion with problematic participant postings. The purpose of the exercise is to see how applicants respond in the online discussion format.