Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Keep people informed and involved

For number 5 on my seven habits list, I am going to point to recent activity in the ELP as an example of the informing and involving I advocate for language program administrators.

One of the main activities was the brainstorming session during the retreat last Saturday when I requested input on the Director's "To Do List". That activity resulted in a long, somewhat messy and often contradictory list of things people wanted me to try to do, which is exactly what I had expected.

The list has been very helpful in providing me with a better overview of issues, conflicts and goals the ELP staff perceive as important. I hope it also helps them feel listened to and that I encourage their involvement in the process of identifying and working on these matters.

After studying the list, I identified several categories that I think provide a reasonable organization for the brainstormed ideas. I also summarized my 'read' of each of those categories and made a brief statement about the fundamental situation I think is represented by the ideas I grouped into each category. Finally, I took all the ideas from the original list in each category and created a few broad objectives that, when accomplished, would mean all of the ideas had been addressed and some sort of resolution established for them. All of this together represents the beginnings of a strategic plan for the ELP. To complete the plan, we will need to add specific activities that will lead to accomplishing the objectives, a timeline for each activity, identification of who will have responsibility for the activity, and indentification of what we will accept as a Performance Indicator, or evidence, that the activity has been successfully concluded. This step will need to come after there is sufficient acceptance of the categories and related broad objectives.

I hope the objectives as I have stated them avoid any prejudging by me of the outcome of deliberations that will be needed as we work through the areas where there are divergent views. That was my intent, but it will need to be confirmed.

My outline of a possible strategic plan for the ELP is given below and I welcome comment and input on whether or not the document: (a) makes sense, ( b) covers the range of issues raised so far and (c) is reasonably neutral relative to the differing views now held by staff in the ELP on these topics. I have included the original raw brainstormed ideas under the description and objectives to show what gave rise to each category and to hopefully demonstrate the comprehensiveness of the objectives in covering the original brainstormed ideas. These can also serve to guide the later formation of specific actvities under each objective.

A final note: Use of this blog to inform and involve allows (but doesn't require) anonymous comment as well as allowing others to see the comments. I hope that this will encourage comment from those who would otherwise perhaps feel too intimidated and that it will give rise to a greater understanding to all of us about the different views held by those in the ELP.

DRAFT ELP Strategic Plan for 2007 – 2012

Categories given general description and main objectives

I. Vision and Values

There is some perceived need to review and clarify fundamental assumptions about the values and vision that underlie and give direction to the ELP. This is manifested by concerns about such things as lack of engagement, accountability and dynamism in the program, how staff are hired and promoted, a perceived high turnover rate among teaching staff and questions relating to where “control” and “innovation” should be situated in the organization.


  1. Revise Staff Handbook section 1. Goals and consider inclusion of new statements expressing ELP core values and vision, as well as expectations for staff participation in determining and implementing them.
  2. Review and set long-term goals relative to tenure and promotion options.

Locus of 'control' in the program

Locus of 'innovation'

Causes and impacts of rapid staff turnover

Lack of dynamism in the Program

Maintaining 'engagement' in the program - people drift off

Review and clarify personnel hiring policies

Review teaching assignment policies and procedures

Accountability of teachers

Responsibilities of tenured vs. non-tenured staff

Request more tenure track positions

Replace tenure with contract appointments. Determine what support there is in the ELP for the gradual replacement (on normal retirement/voluntary redundancy) of the ELP's "closed" tenure system with "open", rolling, performance-based contracts for all teachers.

Open up access to promotion to non-tenured Instructors. Determine what support there is to open up promotion by non-tenured instructors to positions above the current ceiling of Contractually-appointed Lecturer. The current system closes access to even 'base' level Lecturer appointments to tenured instructors only - this is prejudicial in the context of common practice in universities in Japan. If the ELP accepted this suggestion it would lead to fairer separation of promotion and tenure. (The ELP/ICU may also forfeit its place on a well-publicized blacklist!)

II. Status, Reputation and Relations

Historically the ELP has enjoyed a strong reputation as one of, if not the most, effective, high-quality, innovative and professional English language programs in Japan. There is some concern that this reputation may be diminishing. Even if that is not the case, increased competition from other Japanese university programs makes it desirable to strengthen the ELP reputation as much as possible. This is needed both inside ICU as well as outside. The current academic reform taking place at ICU may present some challenges to this effort as well as some new opportunities.


  1. Enhance the ELP visibility, communication and reputation within ICU, Mitaka, Japan and the global ELT community
  2. Respond to academic reform proposals to solidify the role of the ELP within ICU and create maximum integration of the ELP within the CLA.
  3. Adjust the ELP as needed in response to academic reform changes.

Raise ELP visibility and reputation within ICU, Mitaka, Japan and the global ELT community (e.g. hold an annual speech contest, establish a library of research about the ELP by ELP staff)

Respond to Academic Reform proposals – establish ELP roles in new meeting structure, determine relationship to elective languages, strengthen integration of ELP within the CLA, deal with the elimination of the kentan system, propose curriculum revision as needed (e.g. clarify SEA program policies and Coordinator assignment in light of kentan elimination), determine desirability of taking on new roles such as academic advising by tenured instructors and ELP participation in possible writing center, etc.

Strengthen communication with JLP

Strengthen ties with ICU High School

More interaction between ELP and ICU faculty through scheduled events

III. Curriculum, Pedagogy and Materials

Like most language programs, the ELP staff experience a conflict between desiring change and improvement in the areas of curriculum, pedagogy, instructional materials and technologies and a desire to adhere to tradition and stability. Balancing these two forces effectively in the ELP should be an ongoing process.


  1. Review and clarify/revise the ELP curriculum/syllabus objectives, structure and content.
  2. Review and determine desired degree of standardization in teaching practice within the ELP

Curriculum: Lack of explicitness in the details of what we expect Ss to be able to do (1) at the end of each semester (2) at the end of freshman year (3) at the end of Theme Writing; Consider streamlining of syllabus to better fit students’ needs; Continue debate over the division of RCA and ARW

Greater emphasis on teaching vocabulary in the ELP

Clear statement of ELP goals (they ARE NOT explicit in the opening pages of the Handbook)

Review approaches to teaching writing in the ELP

Develop online materials for TW and other courses; consider combination of TW and

SE and/or TW and GenEd courses

Student workload

Value of and need for CS courses – do weaker students need something different? Are some CS courses “so weak they can’t spit over their own chins?”

Detailed syllabus rather than vague curriculum for each program

NP policies, purpose, etc.

Clearer understanding of and more consistent approaches to teaching Critical Thinking; what do we expect of our (L2/C2) students?

ELP Reader: write our own texts

IV. Testing

Testing is perceived by some, if not most, ELP staff as a necessary evil. Compounding this ambivalence about the value of testing is a range of opinions on how much and how standardization should be built into student assessment.


  1. Review policies and procedures for student assessment and revise as needed.

Standardize student evaluation (I understand this to mean our testing and grading policies and procedures, not the TES system.)

Necessity of PWT (are we doing too much?)

V. Instructional Resources and Facilities

In addition to establishing curricular, pedagogical and assessment policies and procedures, there is a need to provide appropriate resources to support the most effective implementation of those policies and procedures.


1. Identify and obtain the instructional materials and technologies required to effectively implement the academic and administrative aspects of the ELP.

Establish a strategic plan for the use of information technology in the ELP, both in administration and teaching

Purchase CD players for instructional use

Course management software (Blackboard etc.)

Make halls more student-friendly and more attractive as places to wait for tutorials

Improve assistance for teachers including facilities, supplies, assistants, etc.

“Softwire” ICU/ELP for technology by establishing clear roles for technology providers and pushing for a materials production unit (MPU) which would be coordinated with content providers (i.e. teachers)

Better copying facilities including consolidation of equipment and supplies, add stapling facilities, expansion of hours when copying help is available, availability of supplies consistent with the rest of ICU

VI. Management Policies and Procedures

There is considerable desire to clarify/revise many aspects of ELP and ICU administrative policies and procedures and to make them more easily accessible for reference.


  1. Revise the Staff Handbook to include any new or updated policies and procedures including procedures and responsibilities for making changes to the Staff Handbook
  2. Review and improve processes for information sharing and communication among ELP staff and between staff and students.

Develop guidelines for working with hearing impaired students in the ELP

Review and clarify personnel hiring and promotion procedures, including the role and standardization of observation procedures in personnel decisions

Clarify and establish course assignment policies and procedures

Revision of the Staff Handbook should be done by one person, not committees (where too many compromises tend to be made, or can be 'stacked' to represent one group view)

Revise Staff Handbook as needed, e.g. include statement on appropriate and inappropriate communication between staff and students.

Definitions for keys terms we use in the ELP.

Student orientation: consider more time, more like a retreat, meet students

Timing of taking student photos for database

Updated system for sharing materials

End of term course meetings to get feedback

Transparent framework for ongoing development of courses

ELP Reader -- form a reading committee; write our own texts (possible link with LRB submissions)

Placement procedures for students

Responsibilities of tenured vs. non-tenured staff

VII. Professional Development

There is significant pressure on ELP teaching staff to demonstrate excellence in both teaching and academic activities such as research, publication and participation in professional events. Such performance expectations should be supported by appropriate offerings of professional development opportunities for ELP staff.


  1. Determine how best to make professional development support available to ELP staff on an ongoing basis.

Institutional mentor system

Better professional development opportunities for teachers for both teaching and research


  1. Hi Bill and fellow readers,

    I made a printer friendly version in MS Word because a few words on the right side got cut off in my browser when I printed it.

    Here is the link (hope it works)


  2. Thanks, Mark. I was able to access your version. Bill