North Central Texas College full-time faculty members Sarah Spikeston and Sherry Smith and adjunct faculty members Benjamin Vail and Tanaye Pope recently attended the Texas Community College Teachers Association’s “Great Teaching Round-up” at the YO Ranch Hotel in Kerrville.
The Great Teaching Round-up is an annual retreat which brings together faculty from across the state and provides a relaxed informal setting where they can exchange ideas and best practices.
Participation in the Great Teaching Round-up is part of the NCTC and TCCTA Partners in Professionalism initiative established by NCTC Chancellor Bent Wallace and Provost Dr. Andrew Fisher in coordination with TCCTA Director Richard Moore and TCCTA Campus Representatives Pat Ledbetter and Jane England.
Wallace recognizes TCCTA as “the singular most effective representative group for Texas community college faculty” and considers the partnership as “an excellent way to promote an atmosphere of collegiality.” Therefore, each year NCTC sends four faculty members to the event.
The recipients of the yearly NCTC Teaching Excellence Awards for full and part time faculty are funded for the event; the other two attendees are selected by a drawing overseen by the provost’s office.
Full Time Teaching Excellence Award recipient Professor Sherry Smith applauded the format of the event because the participants shape the program while the staff facilitates and guides the process. The attendees decide on topics for discussion, share resources and classroom experiences and determine the length of time spent on specific issues. Additionally the atmosphere is constructive; the rule is “no griping, no whining.”
First-year adjunct Benjamin Vail especially enjoyed “learning from and networking with other community college teachers.” He commented that “everyone was so warm and welcoming and brimming with advice for a new educator. Also, between the daily grind of teaching (the commute, the grading, the lesson prep, the lectures), and the pressures of home life it was so refreshing to get away from it all for a couple days in beautiful Kerrville.”
Traditionally, participants return to their respective campuses energized and eager to share newly acquired information that can be applied in the classroom and in interaction with fellow teachers.
Conversations that begin at the retreat often inspire continued engagement between faculty from various campuses and colleges. For example, Professor Sarah Spikeston appreciated the opportunity to broaden her circle of acquaintances and most importantly to bond with her NCTC colleagues. She noted that “none of us knew each other prior to the event, but so many shared stories connect our pasts with our present teaching passions.”