Learning Council Reviews Its Charge, Formulates Goals and Sets the Tone for the Upcoming Year

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

The Learning Council met on Thursday, September 2, 2021, to welcome the 2021-2022 Co-Chair Team — which includes Patrick BarteeIsis Artze-Vega and Lauren Thomas, recap the council’s work from 2020-2021, ground council members in key contextual factors that will impact Learning Council work in the upcoming year and generate fall 2021 goals.

LEARNING COUNCIL CHARGE

To contextualize the Council’s goal setting amongst other college efforts, it was important to first review the Learning Council’s charge, which is:

The Learning Council is responsible for leading the College’s work toward achievement of the core mission — learning. The Council meets regularly to consider the state of the College’s progress in achieving its core mission and to discuss potential major initiatives to advance the work. The Learning Council bears chief responsibility for identifying a select number of major initiatives and commissioning collaborative work teams to design the implementation of these initiatives.

After reviewing the charge, the council spent time discussing and providing updates on some of the “big rocks” that have been named for the fall and spring terms. The big rocks that were identified were:

  • The governance refresh
  • The institutional planning process
  • The academic leadership search
  • New models of teaching and service

The council then broke into small groups to discuss and ideate on what it wanted to accomplish and what opportunities exist with respect to the identified “big rocks.”

GOVERNANCE REFRESH

Katie Tagye, director, organizational design and development, reviewed the challenges that were identified with Valencia College’s current governance system during the 2021 Winter Governance Meeting, as well as the recommendations the team made during the 2021 Summer Governance Jamboree. The challenges identified were concerned with capacity, communication and inclusion.

Although it is not yet clear how the updates to the governance model will impact the Learning Council, council members reflected on the question: What do we want to accomplish as a Council with respect to the governance refresh? Collectively, the council articulated the following goals:

  • Be intentional about our work (i.e. “dig deep”).
  • Ensure that the connections between our work and how it advances student learning at the College are clear.
  • Honor the work previously commissioned in our future endeavors.
  • Continue to make efforts to diversify the voices and perspectives reflected in our work.
  • Serve as a “mentor” to the new strategic councils.

INSTITUTIONAL PLANNING PROCESS

Brandon McKelvey, vice president, analytics and planning, provided a summary of where the College is in the institutional planning process.

He reminded council members that we have established very ambitious student goals for 2030 in four main areas — College Access, Graduation, Transfer Success and Career Credentials — all in the context of being a learning institution and through the lens of opportunity and equity. Council members discussed what they hope to accomplish as a Council with respect to Institutional Planning, and articulated the following goals:

  • Emphasis the importance of communication and understanding.
  • Establish priorities within the Learning Council in regards to the Strategic Plan.
  • Develop tools that will enable us to do our work more effectively (i.e. SMART goals, accountability systems, and “report out” mechanisms).
  • Find ways to efficiently collaborate/partner with the other strategic councils.

ACADEMIC LEADERSHIP SEARCHES

In August 2021, Valencia College President Kathleen Plinske shared that the College would introduce a new academic leadership structure. These organizational restructuring changes and corresponding provost searches are reflections of our desire to meet the needs of our students and community, develop and implement an organizational leadership structure to position Valencia to expand access to higher education in Orange and Osceola counties, and more efficiently manage our continued growth as an institution.

With this in mind, members of the Learning Council were asked: What do we want to accomplish as a Council with respect to our academic leadership searches? Goals include:

  • Provide insight as to what learning means to us at Valencia to the incoming provosts.
  • Ensure we recruit “Learning Leaders.
  • Develop/Ask questions that reinforce the College’s commitment to equity and diversity.

LEARNING PLAN 

Isis Artze-Vega, provost and vice president, academic affairs, provided a brief recap on the Learning Plan, sharing that the Learning Plan Team will be focusing on the following two leading strategy areas: revising the Essential Competencies of a Valencia Educator and increasing engagement in learning outcomes assessment.

 Learning Council members considered what they want to accomplish as a Council with respect to our new models of Teaching and Service. Among the goals articulated:

  • Identify the type of “learning” data that we currently have access to.
  • Determine the type of data we should be commissioning, collecting, and evaluating in regards to Teaching & Service.
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of modalities in various disciplines.
  • Develop and/or redesign systems to collect student and faculty feedback.

LEARNING ABOUT LEARNING

Committed to enhancing their capacity to support learning-focused work, Council members began discussing Zaretta Hammond’s book “Culturally Responsive Teaching and the Brain” (available as an e-book in our Libraries). Given our Big Idea that “anyone can learn anything under the right conditions,” they examined the Valencia conditions for learning by engaging with Hammond’s ideas regarding levels of culture, the socio-political context for our work, and cultural archetypes among our students and employees.

NEXT MEETING

With so many draft goals generated, Council members will begin to formalize them during the next meeting. The next Learning Council meeting will be held on Thursday, October 7, 2021, from 2 – 5 p.m. via Zoom.

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