Great Teachers Seminar

October
1998
Edith Conn, Area C

The twentieth anniversary Great Teachers' Seminar was held August 2-7 at peaceful La Casa de Maria in Santa Barbara, site of the first and all subsequent Seminars. The Seminar coincided with La Fiesta de Santa Barbara, and many participants joined in the downtown festivities. Somehow eggs filled with fiesta confetti found their way back to La Casa and became an informal part of Seminar "events".

David Gottshall, founder of the California GTS and its leader since its inception, has recently retired from the College of Du Page (Illinois) and devotes his time to conducting Seminars throughout the U.S. and Canada. As in the past, he embodied the GTS philosophy by setting as a theme the idea of a great teacher. The varied activities of the 1998 Seminar each reflected that theme in some way.

Selina Soo Hoo Chi (East Los Angeles College) drew participants into an energizing session through movement, and Nancy Silva (American River College) did the same through movement and sound. Using the participants' papers on local innovations and problems (the problems must be ones solvable through discussion) as a platform, Ellen Ligons (Pasadena City College) discussed the importance of local senates in the community college culture.

As ususal, the agenda of the Seminar was determined by the attendees. Within the general theme of the great teacher, participants discussed self-motivation, motivation of students, combatting burn-out, getting students to read, and a host of topics familiar to anyone involved in community college teaching. A special session led by David Nakaji and open only to individuals willing to give micro teaching demonstrations, consisting of 10 minute lectures followed by constructive feedback. Participants are invited to bring books that influenced their teaching, and during the Seminar individuals read movingly from those books.

This year's official ASCCC representative was Nancy Silva, chair of the Relations with Local Senates Committee. Among the six facilitators at the Seminar were Lee Haggarty, ASCCC Vice-President, and Edith Conn, member of the ASCCC Executive Committee.

High points included the ever-popular BBQ picnic/party. David Gottshall was presented with a pocket watch in recognition of his pioneering efforts in GTS. Edith Conn was given the Sister Corita plaque in acknowledgement of her role in the Senate in founding the GTS in 1979. At the close of the Seminar, participants attempted to characterize the "great teacher", an ideal teachers strive for, define in many ways, invariably move toward, but never fully achieve. That philosophy inspired the entire Seminar, and the teachers who attended left with renewed commitment, practical suggestions to use in the classroom, and a sense of appreciation for what teachers everywhere do.

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