Faculty Spotlight: Jessica Battes-Grabowski

The Teaching & Learning Center at Mountain View College seeks to share teaching practices across the entire institution. The following article showcases a faculty member, provides insight into the environment they’ve created for MVC students, and demonstrates effective teaching practices. 

This month we showcase Professor Jessica Battes-Grabowski .


What is one element about MVC that makes it the “best college on earth?”

The students are what make MVC so special! Teaching art classes have given me the opportunity to get to know my student’s thoughts and feelings about a wide range of topics and issues. I have come to find that MVC has a fantastic student body that is focused on achieving their goals. I am also continually impressed with how friendly and thoughtful the students are at MVC.


How would your students describe you or your teaching style?

I think students would say I have a blended style of teaching because I incorporate demonstrations, multimedia presentations, activities (both individual and group), traditional lectures and class discussions. This blended style of teaching allows me to reach all students and keep them engaged with the material.


What teaching strategies do you find most successful in your courses?

I make sure to incorporate new technologies that my students are familiar with and interested in. I make sure to begin each class by stating the itinerary and goals for the class period. This helps keep students on task and aware of deadlines.


What do your students love most about your courses?

I think my students love being challenged by the projects I give, the ability to explore new ideas, techniques and the freedom to express themselves in a safe environment free from judgment. I think they enjoy a lot of freedom with their projects. I want them to bring their own experiences and interests into the course.


What is one creative solution you’ve implemented to address a specific challenge in your courses?

Students sometimes have trouble talking about their artwork. I have found that writing assignments can really help students to formulate their ideas and concepts. This exercise also helps students to present their work during the critique more clearly.


What has been your most positive or rewarding teaching experience?

Sometimes a student begins a project with a lot of self doubt and trepidation. When they overcome this fear and finish the project successfully with great pride in what they have accomplished it is extremely rewarding.

What advice would you give to a new faculty member at MVC?

Get to know you students and find out what they are interested in. This will help you incorporate new elements into your course and keep students engaged in the material.



Who is one person at MVC who has been instrumental to your success (and why)?

Professor James Behan and Cristina Medina have both been instrumental in helping me be successful at MVC. They are always there to help and answer any questions or concerns I have. Their support has been really great and I have learned a great deal from both of them.



Establishing a Human Connection in Online Courses

There is something magical about the first day of class. Everyone arrives excited about the semester ahead, there’s a buzz that can be felt around all parts of campus, and it is truly the first time you, a faculty member, are able to connect with your students. That connection, one which signals credibility, provides insight into the subject matter as a whole, and, perhaps most importantly, establishes a human connection for the entire semester, ensures that students feel connected to their learning environment. Instructors are human after all and instructor presence is an important aspect of teaching and learning.

Credibility, Insight, Connection

As I began to strategize for the first day of delivery, I wanted to ensure that I achieved all three elements stated above (credibility, insight, and connection). Teaching an online course, the challenge I face would be never actually getting to see my students in front of me. I could of course write an award winning essay that addressed these same elements, but reading alone might not be the best method to achieve the results I seek. I want each student to feel a personal connection and I believe video to be the most effective format for that purpose.


That Horrible Blinking Record Icon

As it turns out being in front of the camera is an entirely different experience than being in front of a classroom full of students. In the classroom you don’t have time to worry about your hair, if you tend to say the word “um” a few times, the pitch of your voice, or how often you tend to blink. In front of the camera however, that’s all you tend to worry about as you transition from looking at your students to looking at yourself for the duration of the video. The funny thing is, even faculty who have spent years in front of a classroom may turn camera-shy as soon as soon as that little red record light comes on. There is no escaping or ignoring that blinking red light.

Beep. Recording. Beep. Recording. Beep. Eek!


Something Magical Happens

Once you realize that you’re no longer auditioning for a lead role in the next summer blockbuster, you let your guard down just enough to appear to be a normal human being. Then something truly magical happens…you begin to smile…your sense of humor becomes apparent…and you end with a video that (although it won’t win any awards) isn’t that bad after all. Heck, you could do this every week! Kidding of course.

The end result is that, by simply creating an introductory video for your online course,  you will have established an instructional relationship with your students that encompasses all aspects of a “Community of Inquiry” model (image below). Such a video, in whatever method you use to create it, helps students feel a sense of belonging in their course (even if they’ll never actually see you in person since this is an online class after all).


Garrison, Anderson, and Archer Community of Inquiry Model

Last Steps

The last step I needed to accomplish was simply sharing the video with my students. I did this by uploading the video to YouTube publicly (I know that’s a scary idea for some instructors, but unlisting the video on YouTube or utilizing Vimeo with privacy settings fully enabled would have been other options). Once uploaded I made sure to create closed captioning (subtitles), before embedding the video in my first official welcome message within Blackboard (image below).


Additional Resources

Share Your Process

Please feel free to add your comments or suggestions in the comment box below. I’d love to learn what other instructors are doing and in turn share great ideas even further.

2017 September Workshops

September 2017 Workshops

The Office of Professional Development has helped coordinate and promote various workshops throughout the month. Below, you can view, download, and print the entire schedule of upcoming workshops.

DCCCD Monthly Software Training Schedule

  1. Log into myPortal and click on Software Training and Support (right side).
  2. Select Software Training Schedule (left side) and choose from face-to-face and online training options.

Lynda.com Training Courses

  1. Log into myPortal
  2. Click on Lynda Training (right hand side of screen)
  3. Select course of interest and begin viewing tutorial videos
  4. Upon completion, print out certificate of completion to keep in your records

eConnect Registration Information

  1. Log on to eConnect as an employee and choose “Register for Staff Enrichment” from Employee menu.
  2. Select the current term, choose Mountain View College as the location, and click Submit (or choose another location to see all available training across the district and online).
  3. Select course(s) by checking the selection box(es) to the left and click “Submit.”
  4. Questions? Call the Software Training Support Hotline at 972‐669‐6452 (between the hours of 8AM – 5PM, Monday – Friday).

Hosting Your Own Workshop?

Interested in hosting your own workshop to share your knowledge, expertise, or passion for teaching and learning? Simply contact the Office of Professional Development (email mvcprofdev@dcccd.edu) and we’ll help coordinate logistics and raise awareness for your event. Our goal is to connect faculty, staff, and administrators across the institution in discipline specific, teaching pedagogy, and leadership opportunities. As a reminder, all requests must be submitted by the 15th of the month prior to the workshop scheduled.

DCCCD Mentor Network

Dallas County Community College District is launching a new Mentor Network Program for full-time Professional Support Staff and Administrators. Are you interested in becoming a mentor or would you like to be mentored?


As a mentor, you will enhance your coaching and listening skills while supporting the development of others.

As a mentee, you will build professional networks, gain exposure throughout the Network and hopefully achieve some of your professional and personal goals.


Additional Information:

  • The overarching goal of employee mentoring within the DCCCD is to facilitate a collaborative, cross-functional learning-centered partnership where mentors and mentees are paired for a mutual discovery process with the intent to achieve specific goals.
  • A DCCCD mentor serves as a guide or learning facilitator in a mentee-driven relationship.  The mentor shares accountability and responsibility for achieving the mentee’s learning goals to foster growth and development.
  • A DCCCD mentee plays the role of an active learner to develop skills, abilities, knowledge, or thinking; and shares the responsibility and accountability for the achievement of goals.
  • A mentor facilitator act as a support during all phases of a mentor and mentee relationship.  Facilitators are trained in strategies and tools mentors and mentees will need to be successful in the critical first 90 days of the relationship throughout closure.  We currently have 18 trained mentor facilitators representing each campus/location throughout the DCCCD.


Space is limited. Join the DCCCD Mentor Network today! Applications are available online at the Talent Development myPortal site or can be found below:


Application Period Closes September 8, 2017

Should you have any additional questions please do not hesitate to contact Dominic Green at greendl@dcccd.edu or Rebecca McDowell at remcdowell@dcccd.edu.


2017 Fall Return Week: Volunteer Thanks

Thank you to all volunteers that made 2017 Fall Return Week a memorable experience. Over 70 people, including faculty, staff, Leo and Leona the Lion, and even Student Ambassadors volunteered!

We are also proud of employees who came together to make Return Week possible. Many volunteered to lead workshops, share their knowledge and passion, and provide insight into the meaning behind the work we all do.

A huge thank you goes out to the following departments and employees:

  • Administrative Suite
  • Facilities
  • Marketing
  • Media
  • Office of Student Life
  • Information Technology
  • Magic Man Dr. Geoff Grimes
  • Mr. and Mrs. MVC
  • Individual presenters
  • Employee and student volunteers
  • Leo/Leona the Lion
  • Student Ambassadors

We could not have gotten through Return Week without each of your support. You make us MVC Proud and we are so very lucky to have you as part of the MVC family!

2017 Fall Return Week: Photo Gallery Live!

Need proof that Mountain View College had the best Return Week ever? Look no further than our very own photo gallery, which represents just some of what makes MVC a “Promising Place to Work” (as recognized by NISOD three years in a row!).


Return Week kicked off with a variety of sessions focused on the overall theme of “Shaping Our Future: Common Goals.” The entire week emphasized large-scale campus, district, and state efforts we are a part of.


With over twenty professional development sessions led by MVC family members, there was something for everyone to participate in.


The best part of any Return Week is always the chance to reconnect with employees we don’t get to see every day. It’s an opportunity for the entire MVC family to learn, laugh, and love what we do.


The all-employee Convocation kicked off on Thursday and reinforced the key message of common goals across the institution, district, and state initiatives.


We also recognized employees and their dedication to the institution by honoring years of service and other meaningful awards.


Our afternoon session was led by MVC’s Vice Presidents and encompassed Guided Pathways, 60×30, and Achieving the Dream initiatives.


Thursday afternoon ended by reminding us why we are all here and celebrating our students during the MVC Student Convocation.


As if all of the above wasn’t enough, there was even a kickoff event for the annual employee giving campaign. Our Vice Presidents supported the kickoff by scooping ice cream for faculty, staff, and students.


None of Return Week would have possible of course without all the volunteers who worked behind-the-scenes.

View the Complete Photo Gallery