Southwest Seminar for Great Teaching

29th Southwest Seminar for Great Teaching

October 26 - October 28, 2017

Inn and Spa at Loretto

Santa Fe, NM

"Educators' Point of View"

Register for the Southwest Seminar on or before October 11th (MS Word).

Email your registration form to or mail to:

El Paso Community College

ATTN: Faculty Development Office

P.O. Box 20500

El Paso, Texas 79998-0500

Office: (915) 831-2201

Fax: (915) 831-2738


The seminar will open with an orientation session and dinner on the evening of the 26th. On Friday, October 27th, breakfast will be provided followed by morning sessions and a luncheon at 12:15 p.m. Participants will have the afternoon off as free time to explore the Santa Fe area. At 7:00 p.m., we will reconvene to finalize the Saturday morning participant created sessions followed by dinner. On Saturday, October 28th, breakfast will be provided followed by morning sessions until noon.


In order to make the seminar accessible to all college teachers, we have endeavored to keep costs low. The total registration fee for the seminar is $430. This amount covers all registration fees, plus six delicious meals and two nights lodging at double occupancy. Private rooms are available for those who desire single occupancy and/or wish to bring a guest. A private room for the entire Seminar (two nights) is available for $550. Participants who wish to arrive early, or extend their stay should make a note on the registration form. Rates for each additional night will be $120 per night. Included in the room rates are all taxes, free Wi-Fi, and resort fees (use of exercise room, business center, pool, etc.). Requests for a disabled access room should be noted on the registration form. Please do not contact the hotel regarding lodging. We will add your name to the room block we have reserved for this Seminar.


Santa Fe is located approximately one hour north of Albuquerque, New Mexico. The nearest major airport is in Albuquerque. We can provide information and rates for the several shuttle services and the Rail Runner train running from Albuquerque to Santa Fe.

The Inn at Loretto charges a fee of $10 per day per vehicle for parking. This amount is not included in the registration fees.


This seminar is based on the premise that college faculty are a rich resource that needs to be tapped via a format which encourages learning from each other. The Southwest Seminar for Great Teaching takes a participant-centered focus that allows those in attendance to determine much of the content.


This year’s theme session will begin with Thursday evening “home” groups, wherein participants will get acquainted and the group will be asked to demonstrate its “creativity” via a simple task. On Friday morning the home groups will reconvene and participants can briefly share examples of how they have “thought outside the box.” Next, participants will join with other seminar participants in the formation of expert groups. In these expert groups, participants will tap their own experiences/knowledge.

Trained facilitators will guide the expert groups in the development of teaching tips, practical suggestions, and examples that address each group’s topic. Afterward, the participants will return to their original/home groups and report back on how their expert group addressed the topic at hand. Thus, all participants will eventually share in the knowledge generated by each expert group. Below are abbreviated descriptions of the topics under consideration for the “expert groups:”

  1. How I Encourage Struggling Students – This group will explore how to encourage students who struggle with tests, assignments, or course materials. Can we incrementally help them start to feel successful in the course? How does one get these students to seek help? This group will explore these and other question related to struggling students.
  2. Promoting Student Success in One’s Classes: Rules and other Strategies- What can we do to insure that students will be successful? This group will explore classroom rules that are most likely to promote success as well as when to be flexible as well as unhelpful rules. In addition, participants will share any special test or assignment preparation strategies that promote success.
  3. Everyday Teaching Challenges and Solutions – What is an everyday teaching challenge that you would like to resolve? This group will explore ways to resolve the “challenges” raised by its participants. In addition, participants will share how they successfully resolved their challenge.
  4. Coping with the Low Achieving Class – This group will explore what to do when one encounters a class in which most of the students continue to do poorly on tests and/or assignments. What are the strategies for dealing with these situations? This group will explore answers to the above questions as well as other ideas for dealing with the low achieving class.
  5. What is Critical Thinking and How Do We Get There? – This group will explore participant’s definitions of critical thinking and their examples of critical versus non-critical thinking. In addition, the group will explore the “steps” that we follow in moving students from non-critical to critical thinking.
  6. The Interactive Lecture –This group will share techniques for avoiding “death by lecture”. For instance, how does one integrate active learning into their lectures? What is an important “piece of advice” to someone who lectures as well as dos and don’ts for lectures?
  7. Teaching Students How to Use and Evaluate the Internet– This group will develop tips for improving students “internet sophistication.” For example, how to distinguish reliable versus unreliable internet sites, how to cite from the internet, evaluating internet sites in terms of bias, examples of internet sites that “excite” student interest in learning, etc.


In addition to the theme sessions, participants can choose from one of the following breakout sessions. These breakout groups are based on topics that have generated interest at previous seminars. Below are abbreviated descriptions of the topics to be explored:

  1. Highly Successful and Innovative Group Activities – This group will explore successful and/or innovative group activities. Participants are asked to come prepared with examples of their most successful or innovative group activities.
  2. Novel Ice Breakers - – Participants are asked to come prepared to discuss and bring examples of their novel ice breakers. These can be ice breakers that one uses on the first day of class or at any time during the semester.
  3. Sharing My Best Student Activity Handout - – Participants will discuss and share examples of their best or most effective student activity handout.
  4. How I Incorporate Smart Phones/Tablets into My Classes: Successes and Challenges – Participants will discuss their use of smart phones and/or tablets as part of in-class activities. Examples of both successes and challenges are welcome. Participants will also share their dos and don’ts for these activities.
  5. How I Incorporate Social Media into My Classes – Participants will discuss and bring examples of their use of social media in the classroom. In addition, this group will explore do’s and don’ts regarding the use of social media as well as unresolved challenges.
  6. Unconventionality: Why I Break the Rules– Participants will discuss examples of their “unconventionality” when it comes to teaching or classroom norms. For example, not having set test dates, not using the text, not allowing recording/photographing, no tests, not practicing early alerts, locking the door after class begins, and other unconventional rules and behaviors.
  7. How I Make My Online Classes Interesting – Participants will discuss their methods for making online classes more interesting. For example, one can discuss their tips for motivating students, incorporating active learning into online classes, creating dynamic chat rooms, etc.
  8. Student Presentations: Challenges and Successes – Participants will discuss and bring examples of their tips for helping students deliver more effective class presentations. In addition, participants can share their methods for assessing these presentations as well as their do’s and don’ts.


A second set of breakout sessions will be based on issues that arose during the opening theme session. Seminar facilitators will be listening for recurring themes/issues that arose during the theme session. These issues, plus any others suggested by the participants, will form the basis for the closing set of workshops. These workshops are often on topics that are overlooked by traditional conferences.


We believe that a seminar should provide an environment that encourages collegiality and relaxation. Thus, we have arranged for the following informal/optional activities:

We will have two informal sessions on Thursday evening:

  • Session #1- Humor: We could all use a good laugh! Everyone is invited to come and share a humorous incident that occurred in one of their classes.
  • Session #2 – Fads and Trends in Higher Education: Sharing Our Pros and Cons Participants will share their personal pros and cons as they pertain to current trends in higher education. For example, views on Pathways, dual credit, early college, early alert, etc.

On Friday afternoon, during the free time, we will have an optional book session wherein interested participants can share an interesting book, article, or speech (i.e. Ted Talks) that pertains to education.

Free Time – Participants will have ample free time on Friday afternoon to explore the Santa Fe area.


The seminar is sponsored by El Paso Community College (EPCC) and Central New Mexico Community College (CNM). EPCC has received several national awards for its work in the area of faculty development. CNM is recognized as a leader in promoting faculty development activities among colleges in New Mexico. Trained facilitators will be present at all workshops/small group discussions. Facilitators for the seminar are drawn from El Paso Community College, Central New Mexico Community College, and San Jacinto College in Houston.


During the twenty-eight-year history of the seminar over 3100 faculty from 114 colleges in 21 states have attended. Representation has come from both the academic and vocational/technical areas. This broad range of faculty participation serves to enhance the possibilities for learning from the experiences of others.


Feedback from previous participants indicates that the Seminar produces results on several levels. On a practical level, much information concerning teaching techniques, programs, etc. is shared among participants. As this is a regional seminar that often involves many colleges, networking is a major result. The professional “esprit de corps” which commonly emerges causes participants to leave with a sense of renewed enthusiasm for their profession and the people who are part of it. The following comments from previous seminar participants provide an insight into the results one can expect:

  • “It was the best seminar/conference I’ve ever attended because of the mutual sharing of ideas and the loosely structured, non-threatening approach.”
  • “This is the only meeting of this kind where I go home so enthusiastic and refreshed.”
  • “A thought-provoking experience!”
  • “I will do a better job in the classroom due to my participation in this seminar.”
  • “I feel excited and renewed, this seminar made me realize how much I love this profession.”
  • “I’m glad I came…excited over the new techniques I have learned and am anxious to tell my colleagues.”
  • “The collegial sharing was terrific…I feel that I’ve gained a great deal from meeting people from all over the Southwest…The seminar gets an ‘A’, thanks for a great experience.”
  • “Excellent forum for interfacing with colleagues.”
  • “It was succinct—it was seminal—it was problem-oriented—it was useful—it was fun—it was awesome.”
  • “The concept of experts, creates a focus on teaching/learning not always experienced elsewhere.”
  • “It was an invaluable experience that I wouldn’t have missed for anything.”
  • “A refreshing change from the typical presentation based-conference.”
  • “Excellent experience, everyone talked about specific issues and solutions (not theory), which was great.”
  • “Loved soaking up the passion of all for teaching.”
  • “I have attended on numerous occasions and have always been pleased with what I garnered from the involvement.”

 ‭(Hidden)‬ EPCC Content Editor Web Part