Catch the Next’s Ascender 2019 Fall Seminar took place October 25th-26th at the Hotel Indigo in San Antonio. The two-day event focused on a variety of topics and goals that included: team building, mental health and counseling, mathematics, and academic writing strategies. This Fall’s Seminar began with a welcome and introduction from CTN CEO, Dr. Maria Martha Chavez and an icebreaker by Director of Professional Development, Allegra Villarreal, where participants became acquainted with one another. Allegra followed the introduction with a team building activity where participants explored ways in which team dynamics affect their work inside and outside of the classroom.

After a short break, Yolanda Reyna and Daniel Rodriguez, CTN Fellows at Palo Alto College, presented, “Mental Health in Higher Education: The Future of Counseling.” Here, participants discussed protocols for working with students in crisis and looked at the ways in which mental health is generally being addressed in higher education. Afterwards, participants were engaged in creative writing practices that can be used for self-reflection and as part of classroom practice in “Testimonies: Writing the Word and the World,” presented by Emmy Perez, Texas 2020 Poet Laureate and Professor at The University of Texas at Rio Grande Valley.

The second day of the Ascender Seminar began with a presentation entitled, “Exploring the Emotional Landscape of the Classroom” by Anna Alaniz, CTN Fellow at South Texas College and Allegra. Here, participants reflected on their experiences in the classroom (as students and teachers) and the affects on their current practice.

After a short break, participants broke into sessions of their choice. Allegra presented, “Feedback as Validation: An Approach to Peer Review,” where participants experienced an approach to peer review that addresses the academic and social aspects of writing. “Mindsets in the Learning Frameworks Classroom,” was presented by Anna Alaniz. Participants discussed Dweck’s theory of growth vs. fixed mindset and experience a lesson that can be used to discuss the topic in the classroom. Elsa Ruiz, Professor at The University of Texas at San Antonio gave the first part of a math session, which involved pedagogy and teaching strategies that engage students in problem-solving tasks. Others met with Dr. Chavez to discuss several topics including advising on their campuses. 

Another set of breakout sessions occurred afterwards. Jon Herrin, CTN Fellow presented, “Tell me a Story, now Prove it! From Narrative to Academic Writing.” Participants explored ways to scaffold narrative forms of writing into more academically challenging assignments that include argument and research. Allegra and Anna presented, “Goals, Big and Small: Approaches to Goal and Habit Setting.” Participants explored long-term goal setting and the everyday habits that make our dreams a reality. Elsa continued part II of her math session regarding teaching strategies that engage students in problem-solving.

After lunch, participants were introduced to an engaging discussion on demography by Dr. Rogelio Saenz, former Dean of the College of Public Policy and current professor at The University of Texas at San Antonio. Dr. Saenz’s presentation, “The Story in Numbers: Discussing Inequity through Demography,” informed participants on how census data is assessed and what it tells us about the future of education, policy and our nation, emphasizing the significance of the growing Latino population in Texas and across the United States.

The day ended with CTN Fellows focusing on Campus Team Time, followed by reflection and adjournment.

This 2019 Fall Seminar was sponsored by the Meadows Foundation, The Raul Tijerina Jr. Foundation, The University of Texas at Austin, College of Education, and Bank of America.

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