NCTC Faculty attend virtual TCCTA Leaders Conference

Jane England | Oct 28, 2021

On October 7-9, 2021, NCTC Faculty Senate Officers Pat Ledbetter, Jane England, and Adam Ramsey and Faculty Fellows Anna Marie Anderson, Jennifer Brown, Lisa Smart, and Lauren Sullivan attended the 41st Texas Community College Teachers Association (TCCTA) Leaders Conference. For the second year in a row, the Conference was held online and included informative presentations and opportunities for attendees to interact with colleagues from across the state.

On Thursday, October 7, a special Faculty Fellows only program was held. NCTC Fellow Lisa Smart commented, “While I was not quite sure what to expect, what I found was an encouraging, open, and extremely helpful conference overall.  I thought they did an excellent job of serving us from a holistic perspective. I have made connections with instructors from various colleges and am looking forward to the virtual "meetups."

The conference officially opened on Friday with a “Legislative Update” in which TCCTA Lobbyist, Beaman Floyd and TCCTA Director Richard Moore discussed COVID related issues, revenues and budget outcomes, the state Commission on Community College funding, and other pertinent topics. The second session was an “Update from the THECB” featuring Ray Martinez, Deputy Commissioner for Academic Affairs and Workforce Education, Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.  Commissioner Martinez presented statics relating to population shifts and increases, community college enrollments, student demographics, and projections for future academic challenges. NCTC Fellow Anna Marie Anderson enjoyed both sessions and “found the new information on the commission on funding to be interesting. All of the statistics from THECB session were useful in seeing the state trends in enrollment and areas that need to be focused on such as dual credit, etc. I think sessions that make comparisons across the state let us know where NCTC stands and what areas we need to improve and where we are excelling.”

After a one-hour lunch break, the program resumed with “Red Bench Conversations” during which attendees were broken up into small discussion groups where they shared insights and strategies for creating a classroom climate of trust, mutual respect and tolerance when addressing controversial issues.

The final Friday session featured a discussion of “Compassion Fatigue-Self Care” by Louella Tate, Dean of Student Affairs at Austin Community College.   Dean Tate offered approaches to coping with COVID related stress and emphasized the importance of

addressing the mental health needs of faculty and staff as well as of students.  Lisa Smart especially benefited from this presentation. She remarked, “The benefits from attending the "Compassion Fatigue - Self Care" session were immeasurable.  This was the first time I have heard the term "Compassionate Pedagogy."  It was revealing that it was not just something I felt, but so many others had experienced this exact same thing.  Covid-19 has had an impact on all of us, and there seems to be this idea that it is "not ok" for teachers to "not be ok."  Many are not!  I truly appreciated this session and its individual benefits.”

The Saturday, October 9th, program began with  a “Community in the Classroom” session during which Tuesday Hambric, Founder of the Higher Order Teaching and Learning Institute, examined different types of classroom organization and suggested  tactics for establishing cooperative interactions. The conference concluded with a presentation on “Legal Issues: What to Expect and Your Rights,” by Attorney Monica Narvaez of MKim Legal. Ms. Narvaez discussed recent higher education court cases involving hostile work environment, Americans with Disabilities, retaliation, gender discrimination, and due process. Lisa Smart was surprised by the presentation and found that “The current cases in our court systems are allowing us to learn how to best protect, document, and make sure we are covering all our bases in terms of legislation right down to the classroom practices.  I thought it was insightful, informative, and relevant to the times we are living in.”

In planning the 2021 Leaders Conference, TCCTA made every effort to provide a virtual venue where attendees could interact with peers, participate in meaningful discourse and gain insight into current trends and problems facing community college educators. Additionally, for those who were unable to attend all of the sessions, TCCTA will post recordings of all of the presentations. In conclusion, NCTC Faculty Senate Secretary Adam Ramsey, who has attended several Leaders Conferences, commented that “The Faculty Leaders Conference is the most worthwhile conference for community college educators each year.  I always appreciate the concise delivery of practical information and relevant regulatory updates regarding our profession.  This year was no different, especially as we continue to face ongoing challenges on multiple fronts.  Though much is uncertain at this time, it is reassuring to know TCCTA and our state leaders remain committed to improving the Texas higher education system, which is so critical to our collective economic, social, and political futures.”