Instructor Certification Seminars Go Beyond Leadership

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As a mathematics professor, Phi Theta Kappa chapter advisor Chris Bush was intimidated by a leadership development program grounded in the humanities. Still, she wanted to bring the program to her campus at Palm Beach State College in Florida, so she attended a Leadership Instructor Certification Seminar.

It made for a busy three-day weekend, as the seminar was being offered as an option to Faculty Scholars during their annual conference at Phi Theta Kappa’s Center for Excellence in Jackson, Mississippi. Bush still gets excited about it.

“It totally opened my world,” said Bush, who has served as an advisor for 15 years and a Faculty Scholar twice. “I’ve become a better instructor because of my re-introduction to the humanities.

“I’d been so ensconced in math for the last 40 years that it was nice to expand my knowledge. The other side of my brain was working.”

Phi Theta Kappa’s Leadership Development Program is a nationally recognized program that integrates writings from the humanities — the Great Books and other historical and literary works — as well as film studies and exercises into a facilitated learning environment. Students are encouraged to apply these humanities as sources of wisdom to their own organizations, creating critical thinkers and problem solvers.

Those who wish to teach the leadership curriculum on their campus or in their organization must first attend a Leadership Instructor Certification Seminar. But even those who never plan to teach the course can benefit from the seminar, as more than 2,700 educators from over 700 institutions already have.

“The experience and the variety of approaches to leadership and personal development came together to give me one of the best professional development experiences I have ever had,” said Richard Georges, co-advisor to the Beta Omicron Sigma Chapter at H. Lavity Stoutt Community College in the British Virgin Islands. “The same tools I hope the course develops in my students are the ones I have developed by participating (in the seminar), and I utilize them on a daily basis as a professional who has to operate as part of a team.”

Georges has served as an advisor for eight years and a Faculty Scholar twice. He is also the Immediate Past Chair of the Association of Chapter Advisors. He attended a Leadership Instructor Certification Seminar in 2010 and co-teaches the course offered at his college, which is open to everyone who has completed the Composition II course and is a program requirement for all Humanities students.

“Actually attending the certification seminar was an incredible experience and heavily influenced my instruction of the course,” he said. “It really drives home the idea that this is an experiential learning course and that the students have as much to bring to the classroom as the instructor.”

Looking beyond the classroom, many advisors have integrated the leadership program into their chapters through officer training, particularly sections on teamwork, servant leadership and ethical leadership. As a result, chapter officers know how to articulate ideas and gain the support of other chapter members.

“This course is invaluable as a tool for chapter development,” said Steve Fritts, co-advisor of the Alpha Psi Tau Chapter at Ozarks Technical Community College in Missouri. Fritts is the lead instructor of American Sign Language and serves as the Associate Regional Coordinator for the Missouri Region. “We have used it on the regional level for teambuilding and for breakout sessions.

“You will hear our students quote the text and the principles learned in the course and see evidence of behaviors that were directly impacted by the material.”

Over the course of three days, the Leadership Instructor Certification Seminar goes unit-by-unit through the new, fifth edition of Phi Theta Kappa’s leadership textbook, Phi Theta Kappa Leadership Development Studies: A Humanities Approach. The curriculum employs five distinct, high-impact teaching methodologies proven effective in leadership development.

Attendees learn how to facilitate leadership dialogues; observe and practice facilitation techniques; increase awareness of their own personal philosophy of leadership; and hear about best practices for implementation at institutions around the world. Seminar enrollment isn’t limited to Phi Theta Kappa advisors; student affairs professionals, honors faculty members and anyone else interested in leadership development are encouraged to attend.

“The Leadership Development Certification Seminar is the single most impactful personal and professional development event I have experienced in my career,” Fritts said. “It opened doors to personal insights that I may never have stumbled upon on my own. It was exhausting yet exhilarating, emotional yet logical, and life-changing.”

Three Leadership Instructor Certification Seminars have been scheduled for 2014:

  • May 15-18, Lewis Center, Ohio
  • July 10-13, Blue Bell, Pennsylvania (Early Registration Deadline: May 22)
  • July 17-20, Long Beach, California (Early Registration Deadline: May 29)

The early registration rate is $1,650 and includes tuition, certification and instructor materials, single-occupancy lodging for three nights and meals for the duration of the event.

“It will change your life for the better,” Bush said. “You will be a better person, a better leader and a better teacher because of the program.”