An open call across our state: Let’s work together
It’s my hope that the Nebraska Developmental Education Consortium (NDEC) becomes a network of professionals who encourage one another to continue to evolve as teachers, researchers, and leaders in our colleges, communities, and state. Hoping won’t make it happen. Money won’t even make it happen. It will take a core of folks to see the benefit and take some action, such as these ideas:
- Read/comment/pass along info on or for the website each month
- Attend the NDEC conference Oct. 7-8, 2016 in Kearney
- Encourage colleagues by sharing ideas with them from the website
- Offer to write a blog
- Visit other NDEC teachers at their campuses
- Consider participation in a practitioner-research project
Speaking personally, I’ve been teaching for 13 years at Southeast Community College and had seven years of high school teaching before that. During this time, I’ve had the pleasure of being supported by other teachers across the state and across the country primarily by way of the Nebraska Writing Project and the National Writing Project. I don’t think I would’ve lasted without the teachers I found there. These networks stimulated my teaching, boosted my confidence, re-charged my batteries, and offered me publishing and leadership opportunities. I’m expecting nothing less from NDEC.
Working on our campuses, we do have colleagues, of course, who also “feed” us in unique ways and have our backs. I hope so. But NDEC can also serve that home base too and buttress it with other teachers, further stimulating and challenging the work on our campuses and in our own classrooms. I need this, and I understand that others see the benefit as I’ve gotten to know colleagues around the state the last couple years on PFI work, such as curriculum alignment and Accuplacer test scores for placement, and NDEC planning.
But why? (Part 2)
It’s not just to tend to the professional well-being of each of us, which I think is a pretty good reason itself, frankly. The timing of NDEC is an important consideration. Nationally, we are aware of the rhetoric of negativity regarding developmental education and policies that have come on the heels of such perceptions and the data that have been used, skewed, or misinterpreted in many cases to force reform. I am not opposed to reform. I do think we, as educators with knowledge and expertise, need to make room at the table of public discourse and teach (advocate) outside our classrooms about the importance of developmental education and effective reform in the context of the mission of the community college in this country.
Help build the NDEC core of the network.
NDEC is a Partnerships for Innovation (PFI) grant-supported effort for 2015-2016 that aims to grow this network by two structural means: A website and an October 7-8, 2016, conference in Kearney. The website will be a regularly-updated resource for teaching ideas, policy news, research, national and regional conference information, as well as a host for teacher voices via this blog. All of you who teach reading and writing at the developmental level at Nebraska community colleges are encouraged to contact Kristi Rastede with ideas; see “How to contribute” under the Blog tab here on the website.
Beyond fall 2016, once the money is spent, our leadership team will carry on the work for future years and your contributions will always be welcome. It is my hope that our relationships will continue to grow as the consortium takes shape.
The conference program details are still taking shape, but we will have two guest speakers as well as NDEC folks (maybe you?) presenting and facilitating discussions on a range of topics. Time to socialize so we can get to know one another is also a goal. More information will be available soon. Please watch for registration. The conference itself will be free, but you need to get here and cover lodging.
Don’t worry—there’s no Husker game. But there must be a hundred weddings that weekend in Kearney because facilities are tight. Please mark your calendars: Oct. 7-8, Friday evening to Saturday mid-afternoon.
An English teacher at Southeast Community College, Phip Ross earned his doctorate in education in 2013. A video piece of his dissertation can be viewed here. A Fulbright Scholar (2007), his collaboration at SCC on