Supporting Student Success Through Professional Development

Video Transcription File:

- [Dr. Lowery-Hart] Our history is as a junior college that served, you know, the affluent part of our community. We had a large influx of immigration and it literally changed the landscape of our community, but in the best possible ways.

We say here at Amarillo College that we have to love the students we have, not the students we used to have. One of the keys to our transformation, culturally, was an intentional professional development. And all of our faculty staff went through a poverty understanding certification.

And that's when I realized that professional development without a plan of action on the back end was not enough. The PD had to be the foundation of your plan and cultural shift. But if you think it ends there, then you're wrong. You have to build systems around how you're going to act on it.

It was that our faculty staff started asking why. "Why were you late?" "Why did you do poorly on your test?" "Why are you distracted?" And realized that we had judged those behaviors without understanding them.

And now that we have this understanding of poverty, and generational poverty especially, because what we learn is generational poverty teaches you a mindset of hopelessness and helplessness.

- [Dr. Clunis] Professional development in developmental and adult education is absolutely critical. The faculty development plan that was in place before, was pretty much driven by the faculty, and solely on their interests. Well now, the faculty still has the opportunity to drive their professional development, but we've just added some things that we're asking for them to address, in addition to that. Because we had to have these umbrella things that we were working on: poverty, student support, that really are connected to the college's values.

The one thing I can say that we love about our integration with adult education is that they actually have a very structured professional development requirement. And we actually found that the adult education system had a more rigorous professional development system than developmental education.

So, from an instructional standpoint, we actually have adopted that more rigorous professional development system. I think it has been helpful in improving all of our work. This culture of collaboration is even happening in that type of redesign that comes from the professional development that we've been doing.

And so, institutions, if they are going to do the student success work, they're going to have to make sure that they deliberately, strategically plan to train their faculty in order to be able to serve students in the way that is necessary for the needs of the workforce.

- [Jordan] The poverty initiative has had a huge impact on the Dev-Ed students here at Amarillo College. I feel like they feel like they are wanted here on this campus, because instead of when something happens like a life issue or a barrier approaches, they're not so quick to just be sent away, or be silenced in whatever that need is.

They have instructors and staff now who know to connect them to us and AC Advocacy and Resource Center. (Professional Development at AC has been) Very beneficial to me for my career here at Amarillo College is being able to really understand the dynamics within Amarillo itself, and then how the struggles that our students have, and how that affects them and just being prepared to serve them to my best capability. We have the knowledge on poverty to educate others, and it starts with the department that you're in.

You know, for example, me within the Advocacy and Resource Center, I am able to educate the staff that I have, the interns that come in every semester, just so that they know exactly what it is that we're looking at. It's just being more aware of what poverty really looks like, and how we really have to go in and provide the services to these students.

Professional development has played a huge impact on who we have at this campus for sure.

-[Dr. Lowery-Hart] So, professional development around things like poverty and understanding first generation college students and really, professional development centered around who our students are, not who we wish they were, has changed everything about this college.

But in particular, how we serve our neighbors in adult developmental education and adult basic education.