Information for Visiting Professors
Welcome from the faculty and students of Colorado College. We look forward to your visit. To assist you in planning and enjoying your stay, we have collected below some information about the Colorado Springs area, the College, and the Block Plan.
Teaching on the Block Plan
The Block Plan is a concentrated format, with each day the equivalent of about a week under a semester schedule. Some maintain that the amount of material covered each day -- and the amount of homework assigned -- should be the same as a week's in a semester. Others maintain that the Block Plan encourages depth of coverage rather than breadth. Because, for example, each class session spent discussing a novel is the rough equivalent of three 50-minute class sessions under the semester schedule, two days of discussion works out to about two weeks of discussion in a semester. So you may find yourself assigning less reading in total, but spending more time covering each text. Remember, while students will almost surely have extracurricular activities, yours is the only class for which they must prepare.
If at all possible, on a visit to the campus or in the days prior to your teaching block, sit in on a class or two. This may help you to gauge the demands of teaching on the Block Plan. For on-line examples of current syllabi, see your host department's website.
Colorado College operates under an Academic Honor Code system with which you should be familiar. Please review the materials contained on the linked websites and ASK YOUR CHAIR if you have any questions about the Honor Code or about Honor Council procedures and policies at the College. You may also contact the Faculty Advisor to the Honor Council. He or she would be pleased to talk with you about the Honor Code. ALWAYS introduce the Honor Code at the beginning of your classes, explain your policies and preferred practices, and require students to sign "Honor Code Upheld" on papers and examinations. If you suspect an Honor Code violation, please speak immediately with your chair or program director, as he or she can assist you in taking the next steps outlined on the Honor Council webpage.
Classes meet at 9:00 a.m. on the first day of block; after that day you may set a meeting time with which you feel most comfortable (meetings will usually be 2.5 or 3 hours long). Feel free to schedule field trips or to occasionally hold class in a student's house or apartment (or your own). Students are supposed to be available to you from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., so make use of whatever is at hand which you feel will be germane to the course or will usefully vary the routine. You may want to spend a class day at the college's mountain cabin or, if you plan sufficiently in advance, you may spend several days at the Baca Grande Campus in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Check with support staff or your department or program chair as far in advance as possible about arranging for transportation and meals.
A precise, carefully delineated syllabus with class meeting times, office hours and telephone numbers, description of assignments, paper and presentation guidelines and deadlines, grading system, and attendance/late paper policy statement is even more important for this concentrated academic schedule than usual. Students often like to meet with professors, so plan on scheduling ample office hours.
By the end of the first five-seven days of the block, students usually should have been given an assignment and had it graded and returned. Thus they will quickly receive some idea of your grading style and general preferences.
Colorado College faculty use a variety of pedagogical strategies, even within a single block. Most combine the instructor's presentation of material in lecture format with discussion and group activities. The best mix of strategies varies somewhat by division and definitely by individual! Straight lecture format is perhaps less effective for most (but not all!) on the Block Plan than in university settings with course enrollments in the hundreds. More importantly, one purpose of the Block Plan is to encourage a seminar-like experience within a conceptual framework conveyed by the instructor. Questions, discussions, and free exchange of ideas are vital to the experience. The Block Plan is also ideal for assigning projects and/or oral presentations by the students, either individually or in groups.
Long research papers are obviously unwieldy and time-consuming for most (again, not all) one-block courses. Many papers assigned on the Block Plan average five-six pages; some faculty assign frequent one-page response papers, and others do combinations of two or three papers of various lengths per block. You are also welcome to (and students will expect you to) schedule a final exam (either group oral exams or standard written exams) on the last day of the block. Please remember that very quick paper turnaround is essential on the Block Plan: students should get back graded papers a reasonable time before the next paper is due. You may also allow or demand paper revisions according to your own policy.
Grading standards are, of course, notoriously difficult to standardize, especially in the humanities. But please feel free to use the full scale of grades for individual assignments and course grades. Not all students do A and B level work all the time and in every course. A general description of each grade may be found in the Colorado College Bulletin (the Catalog of Courses), in the "Academic Policies" section, which you should review.
In 1997 the faculty implemented a course evaluation system that mandates course evaluations in all courses taught in all departments and programs at Colorado College. All students are expected to evaluate classes at the end of each course, using forms designed and provided by the faculty within each department/program. Course evaluation forms should be composed within, and approved by, each department/program and need not be uniform across departments/programs. See the Faculty Handbook, B.II.G. Check with your chair or program director for copies of the course evaluations used by CC faculty in your department or program. You are welcome to modify existing forms to fit your own assessment goals.
Departmental faculty and staff will be happy to answer any question or assist you in placing textbook orders or provide material such as sample syllabi for courses similar to those you are teaching. Textbooks are usually ordered in May of the preceding spring for first-semester courses; in October for second-semester courses. If you wish to place books on reserve in Tutt Library, you should speak with the divisional librarian (Humanities, Social Sciences, or Natural Sciences) or reach the appropriate librarian via e-mail. Detailed information on the library can be found here.
You will likely be staying in a college-owned apartment on or near campus. Once your travel plans have been finalized, arrangements will be made to give you the keys to the apartment. Mail is usually not delivered to the apartments; please have your mail sent care of the department in which you will be teaching. If you will be bringing your own car, please let your department chair know in advance so she or he can arrange for a parking sticker for you.
All departments have fax as well as phone service, but faculty are asked to cover the costs of personal communications. Average monthly work-related phone/fax charges for faculty members average about $15-$20 each, which gives you some idea of what is deemed reasonable.
The college's health plan does not cover visitors who stay less than a year. If you are employed for less than a year please arrange with your own insurer to cover you while away from home.
We will arrange for your own personal office space and you will also have the use of your host department's general office. Please introduce yourself to your departmental staff assistant as early in your teaching block as you can. You will have a computer in your office (almost certainly a PC). Your classroom will be assigned a few days before the block begins: your departmental staff assistant will have that information for you. If your course includes a computer lab component or if you have particular audio-visual needs, contact your department chair well in advance of your teaching block.
If you are from another country:
- You must obtain a J-1 visa to work at Colorado College. The International Studies Program will help you with the J-1 visa application process and with your orientation to Colorado College.
- All J-1 exchange visitors are required to have health insurance for the entire time they are in J-1 status. If you are employed with Colorado College for less than a year, please refer to the International Studies Program website to review health insurance coverage requirements.
- You must obtain a social security number in order to be paid in the U.S. You'll have to visit the Social Security office very early in your stay. The nearest office is at 3628 Citadel Drive North, a fifteen-minute drive from campus. When you go, please get a receipt for payment; this can be shown to the payroll office to expedite your addition to the college's payroll. The card should arrive ten to twelve working days after application.
If possible, plan to arrive a day or two (at least) ahead of your first scheduled class. Weather in the Rockies can be unpredictable at any time of the year and, from October through April, it is always possible that your travel may be delayed. While you may experience sunny, 60-degree weather in the middle of winter, you might just as easily encounter a snowstorm in April. Pack accordingly. In addition, the Springs is located at an altitude of 6,200 feet in the arid southwest. If you live close to sea level, you may require a few days to adjust. You may have headaches, feel a bit queasy, and/or get tired easily for at least a couple of days. Be sure to drink plenty of water to counteract the dry climate.
Colorado Springs has several good to fine restaurants; ask people in your department about their favorites. If you don't have a car, you will still have access to restaurants, convenience stores and bookstores: downtown is within walking distance of the college. If you have access to a car, the surrounding area offers (of course) beautiful parks and scenery and a great variety of outdoor activities -- skiing, mountain biking, hiking, fishing, etc. Low-stakes gambling is also available at Cripple Creek, a historic gold rush town about forty minutes from the Springs. For more information, you may also want to browse the resources in the Pikes Peak Region.
Many internationally known speakers and performers visit the college each year. The college also supports several NCAA teams, including Division I women's soccer and men's hockey.
Teaching on the Block Plan is intensive and time-consuming, but we urge you to take advantage of the area while you're here.
This guide is based upon one devised for the Department of English, Colorado College, by Barry Sarchett.