Greetings, TLED Team,

Time certainly flies and just one week ago today I was in NOLA (New Orleans, LA) to present at the American Association of Community College Pathways Institute, Ensuring Student are Learning and Progressing Along the Pathway. I was an invited speaker to share the work we are undertaking in Faculty Development redesign efforts and the integration in Guided Pathways reform. Mary Rittling, Retired President of Davidson County Community College in North Carolina, and I presented Professional Development Structures for Teaching and Learning to faculty, staff and administrators representing 13 Community and Technical Colleges around the country. I shared the attached diagram depicting the framework we developed in 2017 through collaboration with Faculty Senate leadership, Adjunct Faculty Association leadership, and Human Resources.

In addition to presenting, I was able to attend the Plenary and Break-Out Sessions to learn from other colleges, hear of new opportunities, and find resources that we can use at ACC.  Here are some of the session, takeaways, and how they can help us in TLED:

  1. The Faculty Role in Advancing a Culture of Teaching and Learning

Marcy Alancraig, English Instructor and SLO Coordinator, Cabrillo College, CA / / Janet Fulks, Retired professor of Biology at Bakersfield College, CA

Two faculty members and guided pathways liaisons from the California Community College System shared how they integrated faculty voices in pathways work by created a sense of urgency through the consistent use of data. They shared successes and challenges with implementation but noted and emphasis on building capacity of educational leadership and focus on things faculty can do in the classroom to support progression on the pathways.

How this applies to TLED? We will discuss incorporating the principles used in this presentation into our TLED strategic plan in support of faculty leadership programs, faculty development efforts, and pathways programming we are hosting this year.


  1. Teaching and Learning in the Context of Guided Pathways

Tia McNair, Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) VP of Diversity, Equity and Student Success and ED for the Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation Centers / / Lisa Borzewski, Associate Provost, St. Petersburg College, FL / /Kellie Ziemak, Director of Student Support, St. Petersburg College, FL

Dr. McNair provided an overview of the national initiative between AAC&U, the Community College Center for Student Engagement, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to develop resources that support the fourth pillar of Guided Pathways’ focus on teaching and learning, “Ensure Students Are Learning.”  St. Petersburg College representatives shared their story integrating and prioritizing teaching and learning in Guided Pathways.

How this applies to TLED? I have reached out to Dr. McNair to leverage their work in our Faculty Development and Evaluation redesign through the use of Value Rubrics. We will also ensure that our TLED Strategic Plan (highlighted in a future TLED VP Update) includes a closer integration with student affairs in our guided pathways work.


  1. Fostering Student Success: Employing Validation, an Asset-based Framework and High-Impact Pedagogic Practice. 

Laura I. Rendon, Professor Emerita, University of Texas, San Antonio / /Kay McClenney, Senior advisor to the President and CEEO, American Association of Community Colleges (Also our past Achieving the Dream Coach) 

I was fortunate to first hear Dr. Rendon speak at the Gardner Institute Conference earlier this year. Her research is based on fostering greater student success, especially for low-income, first-generation students. She discussed building a culture of success through validation-rich teaching and learning, using asset-based frameworks and working with high-impact practices that include culturally-relevant learning experiences.

How this applies to TLED? We will be integrating these principles in the next phase of our Faculty Onboarding Programs, our Teaching and Learning Academy, new Course Redesign Academy and related professional development for faculty.


  1. Leveraging CCCSE Data and the Student Voice to Accelerate Institutional Change

Kurt Ewen, Vice Chancellor, Planning and Institutional Effectiveness, Houston Community College

Dr. Ewen shared strategies for use of CCCSE (Community College Center for Student Engagement) Data to highlight the urgency for closing equity gaps and monitoring impact of reforms to improve student learning outcomes. At this session I learned that SENSE (Survey of Entering Student Engagement) has pre-designed course feedback forms and learned how HCC was using them to gather feedback directly tied to the SENSE survey. He also shared how they are using a concept of ‘student personas’ to help faculty and advisers support individual student needs.

How this applies to TLED? I spoke to Dr. Ewen about the possibility of coming to Austin, and sharing his research and approaches more broadly at some of our upcoming pathways events.


  1. The Caring Side of Guided Pathways: Increasing the Faculty and Staff Connection to Students

Brad Phillips, President and CEO, Institute for Evidence-Based Change (Also our past Achieving the Dream Coach)

Greg Williams, President of Odessa College

Odessa College has won numerous awards for their focused work on culture change. Most notably through a Caring Campus model they closed achievement gaps and increased completion rates dramatically from 7% in 2007 to 45% in 2015 – a whopping 38% increase!! 😀

How this applies to TLED? At our all TLED meeting in December, we will learn more about Odessa’s work, their goals and commitments following by a work session to employ these practices of caring.

The Pathways Institute was a great opportunity that can impact our work going forward as you see from these summaries. This is the lens with which TLED members who travel to a conference or event should view their attendance and participation, allowing them to share their experience in context of our work and strategic planning efforts.

As I left New Orleans, I had another moving experience. My Lyft driver shared her story living through the horrors, chaos and fears of hurricane Katrina when she was 11 years old, and the incredible challenges she and her family had to face in floods that reached astounding 25′ water levels, losing their possessions, desperate attempts to communicate and find power for basic needs, getting to the Astrodome only to find overcrowding, unsafe and unsanitary conditions, and even to see someone get shot. Hearing this made my ride seem a lot longer than it was as I tried to find words of solace. Precious, as she was called, then proceeded to tell me that despite this lived experience, she would be graduating next year from her local community college as a Medical Assistant, she had one class left to take, and she was very much looking forward to what life had next in store for her.

Listening to Precious was the culmination of my trip – bringing together what I learned in the Pathways Institute and the important role we all play in changing lives.

Thank you for all you do to impact our students daily, ensure our students are learning and helping them succeed!



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Susan M. Thomason, Ph.D.

Associate Vice President, TLED

Austin Community College District

5930 Middle Fiskville Rd. Austin, Texas 78752

512.223.7796 / 512.223.7667  |



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