Convocation Questions Answered
The TCC Convocation and Professional Development Day (PDD) planning team is grateful for feedback received from the evaluation survey. Some of the same questions tended to bubble up in the fill-in portion of the survey, so in the interest of better communication and understanding, we thought we’d tackle a few of them here.
In the pre-PDD email, there was a note about suggested attire. Why does there appear to be a dress code for PDD?
Traditionally, many employees call or email HR about what to wear at PDD. Because Staff generally wear jeans on Fridays only (along with TCC blue, or when wearing a United Way “jeans pass”), many ask if it’s okay to do so on a Tuesday at PD day. To be efficient with one communication, the team tries to get the message out that jeans with TCC blue is appropriate attire for PDD — but it’s not required dress. Basically, employees are expected to dress for work. Please know that the pre-PDD email note is not meant to be prescriptive or demeaning — it’s just a way of getting a lot of different information out to all.
Why do we have to sign in to every session?
TCC’s Human Resources department manages training transcripts for all full-time employees. Your attendance is entered into your file, so that you can track your development for your portfolios or performance review. For the 600 or so employees who are not faculty, it is a regular workday, and those employees are expected to be at Professional Development Day or to arrange leave with their supervisors. Faculty are also expected to attend the day as part of their academic appointment.
Are Tulsa Tech-Owasso and NSU-BA our only location choices? Is there anything more convenient?
One of the goals for Convocation/PDD is to have all full-time employees in one room at the same time, but unfortunately, there are only a few locations in the Tulsa area that can accommodate our 850+ employees. Places like the Cox Business Center and the Renaissance Hotel have rooms large enough, but their room rentals fees are expensive. Tulsa Tech does not charge for room rentals. It also has one room — the “Post Oak” — which always has 900 chairs in place for Convocation. Some employees do not appear to want to sit near the front or prefer to stand. Standing does cause congestion in the doorway, which isn’t optimal. Chairs are available for all.
While the SEC PACE can also accommodate all full-time employees, the PACE is often booked for Signature Symphony at TCC or other performances/rehearsals and would not be able to be turned around in time for PDD purposes. As well, the distance between classrooms for breakout sessions at SEC is challenging for many employees, as evidenced by comments after the 2016 PDD at SEC. An important part of the decision to not use a TCC location is that having the day every year at a TCC location would mean that a group of employees would have to work that day and would not get the opportunity to participate in any professional development.
Why can’t we have better food or catered lunches?
Feeding so many people in such a short time is a significant challenge. Part of the agreements with both Tulsa Tech and NSU-BA for free use of space includes an agreement that TCC use their catering services. (Required use of in-house catering is common at all rental facilities.) Tulsa Tech’s catering service is part of their teaching environment for their Culinary Arts students. Given the size of TCC’s workforce and the short preparation time, we have had significant challenges with the food service there. Reports of last year’s unappetizing wraps led us to try something different this year that we hoped would accommodate a wide range of dietary requirements. Unfortunately, the lunch was not as successful as we had hoped. We were disappointed, too!
I feel like I already know all about these topics. Can we get someone who can teach me something new?
Trying to reach approximately 850 fulltime employees with a range of interests and educational levels in a single session is a daunting task. Personal preference for style, subject, etc., is hard to predict, especially when so many people are involved. We realize some people in the audience – no matter who the speaker – will already know a great deal about the topic. It’s also frequently true that for every complaint that the speaker was not great, we also receive an equal number or often more compliments that the speaker was excellent. Thus, our goal is to reach as many people as possible. The day really is intended to increase the breadth of knowledge for the greatest number of people. It is not necessarily intended to increase the depth of knowledge — but it is great when that occurs.
Is it possible to get better speakers?
Given the scope of the day, TCC’s budget for the day is limited. Professional speakers generally charge between $1,500 and $30,000 for an event with most being in the $5,000 to $10,000 range. Many professional speakers charge travel fees, as well. Given TCC’s budget limitations, the committee looks for local talent willing to speak at a nominal rate. Many speakers donate their time and do not charge the college. That said, the committee does attempt to vet speakers. We prefer to take recommendations from employees who have seen the speakers before and can vouch for their professionalism and presentation styles; unfortunately, sometimes that’s not possible.
Why don’t we have more choice, in terms of session selection?
The planning committee has now tried several different iterations for how to do PD Day: speaker sessions by workgroups, speaker sessions for all, breakout sessions with combined offices/departments, choice in terms of breakout sessions, no choice in breakout sessions, and some combination of available choices. To some extent, these decisions are significantly determined by the location. (For example, NSU-BA does not have a room large enough to fit all TCC employees together, so Convocation/PDD scheduled there must include some live streaming.)
After three years, and four PD Days, we think we’ve hit on an optimum set-up, typically including some combination of choice and assignment. Again, location plays a part. Ultimately, because of its size and variety of rooms, Tulsa Tech will always offer us the greatest flexibility, but in the interest of fairness (in terms of travel time, in particular), we will typically use both Tulsa Tech and the NSU-BA campuses. In any case, we are committed as a team to continuous improvement in our planning and evaluation processes and strive to meet everyone’s needs as effectively as possible.
Professional Development Day is one way that TCC supports HLC’s expectation that employees are supported in their professional development (HLC Subcomponents 3.C.6 and 5.A.4).