New faculty participate in a robust professional development program for teaching and learning. It is a mandatory component of their employment. The format is relaxed, collegial and the conversations are facilitated by one of the teaching and learning consultants. Here’s the situation: A brand new faculty member is quite disruptive, week after week. They are combative and negative. As the teaching and learning consultants are faculty, they walk a fine line. The Associate Dean of the negative faculty member has come to the teaching and learning consultant and asked for an update on them. They are asking specific questions about behaviour, attitude and preparedness. (Really there are 2 issues here – one the negative faculty and the other the inappropriate actions of the AD.) The negative faculty member is the situation I am more interested in.
Remove the person from the group and have a one-on-one conversation to ask what the issue is
Take them aside or quietly talk with them while the group is occupied and say “You don’t seem to be very happy here; is there something we can do to make this more useful/enjoyable for you?”
Speak to the AD outside and advocate for confidentially in the workshop process (that you actually don’t report on how someone is doing)
Ground rules for everyone. Maybe set guidelines for workshops with entire group before you start the day
Engaging/talking up the point with the group
Alice’s tip: When speaking one-on-one with the person, I think it is important to say what you see in terms of actions, or how it may be affecting you or others, but not assume or attribute it to anything to do with feelings or motives of the person (since you don’t know). You could start out generally: “How is it going for you?” (We never know all the things going on in someone else’s life or why they are acting as they are.) You could certainly point out that some of their behaviours or words (be specific) have resulted in a negative tone or atmosphere (“when you said xxx, I noticed that other participants did xxx) and ask more about that (do they know they are doing that?)