Faculty Spotlight: Markay Rister

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 Markay Rister.


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

I like the small size of the campus and the very collegial faculty. We not only work together, but we also socialize across the divisions and enjoy each other’s company. It really does make MVC feel like a family. MVC also has the most beautiful campus: I can look out over the tops of the trees from my second floor office, and in the fall, the colors are spectacular!


How would your students describe you or your teaching style?

Hands-off! I lecture very little and most of that is more Socratic questioning. My classes are also very interactive. The students do a lot of work in ever-changing groups, which they seem to enjoy and find successful.


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

I try to make every task relevant to the goal, no busy work ever. I try to find ways to help the students work more efficiently without sacrificing the quality of the finished product. Most importantly, I listen. I try to make sure that I understand the student’s question or concern before I reply, and I try never to move on when there are still questions that need to be explored.


What do your students love most about your courses?

One example is that I allow them maximum flexibility with attendance; I teach several sections of the same course and allow the students to attend whichever section best meets their need, either occasionally or permanently. In addition, because basic composition is a skills course rather than a content course, the students can measure their own success and have a concrete skill that carries into their academic and professional career. The students also know that I am available to them for help in future courses. When I see them for the last time at the end of the semester, I always tell them that they know where I am if they need me in the future, and many take me up on that offer.


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

For most students, turning in an essay for a grade is a matter of guess-what-she-wants. Using a descriptive rubric and a stack of sample essays for calibration, I teach the students to grade their own essays. They must work with a small group to arrive at a justifiable grade for their own essay, make whatever improvements they want, and then submit the essay with an evaluation sheet which tells me what grade they think the essay deserves and why. I read the essay and agree or not, giving feedback. By mid-course, they are usually right on target. Because they have the skills to evaluate accurately their own work, the final product is much higher quality. I use a generic rubric based on the expectations in academic writing, so that the skill they have gained transfers to their other classes, regardless of discipline.


What has been your most positive or rewarding teaching experience?

The most rewarding aspect of teaching is the students who come by my office or drop me an email long after the course to ask advice or let me know what they are doing. I especially cherish the times when a student tells me that he or she has become a teacher because of my example or does something in the classroom because of the way I taught. I recently announced that I would be retiring at the end of this spring semester, and I have been amazed (and humbled) at the number of former students who have contacted me to tell me what they are doing and to wish me well.


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

Keep your office door open to students, even those who don’t specifically belong to you. Stand in the hall for the first few days of class each semester to help the ones who can’t find their classroom or the offices. There is a lot of work to be done for the institution, but remember that the students are always our priority.


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

There actually have been two: Lew Sayers mentored me when I first arrived and helped set the tone for my work here; he was a fine example of enthusiasm and dedication to his students. Quentin Wright, a former dean and VPI, gave me many opportunities to broaden my scope professionally and to have some influence on the changes in the Developmental Education program in our state.


TEDx Conference

Posted on behalf of Deandria Reed-Shaw

html TEDx talks 2018

Can you tell us a little bit about what is happening in your area?

We are offering a TEDx Conference Tue. February 6, 2018 from 6:00 PM to 9:00 PM in the Mountain View College Performance Hall. A TEDx Conference is a local independently organized event that grew out of the larger TED Conference started in Silicon Valley, California.

How did Mountain View College (MVC) get involved in this?

The idea to organize a TEDx Conference at Mountain View College was proposed by Deandria Reed-Shaw, (a faculty member in the Communication Studies Department). TED’s mission to create conferences with “Ideas worth spreading,”(cutting edge, innovative and inspiring talks), appealed to Mountain View College’s creative academic culture. The TEDx Conference is a global intellectual movement. Mountain View College had its inaugural TEDx Conference in 2014. We are the only community college in DCCCD and in the Dallas/ Fort Worth area to offer an annual TEDx Conference.

How does this positively impact our students, employees, or community?

The TEDx mission also fulfills the vision of our college to empower and transform lives through exemplary education. Since TEDx is a locally organized event it invites local speakers that share compelling ideas that appeal to the needs of our community. TEDx also offers professional development for employees in the form of live or pre-recorded TED Talks. It is our hope our attendees will become intellectually enriched, inspired or agents of change. Our TED Talks are simulcast on the internet and broadcast internationally on the TEDx You Tube Channel. So our college has also gained more international exposure.

What should we expect and what timeline exists regarding this effort?

It usually takes our TEDx organizers almost a year to organize a successful event. The process of producing such an event is multifaceted and includes auditions, rehearsals, marketing campaigns, etc.

What does finishing this effort mean to the MVC?

The TEDx Committee and its volunteers feel as if we have been a part of something that can greatly empower our MVC community. TEDx transcends any individual endeavor. It has the potential to transform the lives of our DCCCD students, employees, and the international community. We continue to receive high reviews and accolades from the TED, TEDx communities and our devoted fan base.

What departments or individuals on campus helped bring this initiative to life?

The TEDx Conference is a college-wide initiative. However, here are just a few people or Departments that have contributed greatly to its success: MVC Executive Team, Marketing, Graphics, Arts and Communication Division and Professional Development.


2018 Spring 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: Individual Impact.” 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.


With so many sessions to choose from, employees were informed, entertained, and engaged around every corner. The entire week is an opportunity for the MVC family to learn, laugh, and love what we do.


The all-employee Convocation kicked off on Thursday and reinforced the key theme, as well as focused on institutional, district, and state initiatives.


We also recognized employees and their dedication to improving the institution through participatory budget awards.


The best part of any Return Week is always the chance to reconnect with employees we don’t get to see every day.


Such connections keep us motivated as a team and focused on the reasons we are here.


View the Complete Photo Gallery

I Am A Woo…What Are You?

Woo. Woo, who? No, that’s not a knock-knock joke. Woo is a strength identified by the Gallup StrengthsFinder assessment tool.


My top 5 signature themes/strengths are: Responsibility, Strategic, WOO (Winning Others Over), Communication, and Self-Assurance. These top 5 signature themes make up who I am as a person. What makes me unique and why I do the things I do.


During 2018 Spring Return Week, I led a professional development session called Know Your Strengths, Make An Impact. During this training session, all participants obtained an understanding about relationships to teams, strengths philosophy and how to apply it, personal insight through self discovery, and the difference between natural talent and strengths using scenario-based learning. We also reviewed the top 34 signature themes through game-based activities involving story cubes. By the end of the training session, the entire group learned about each other’s talents and strengths, the purpose of working within one’s strength zone, and the value of creating relationships through team engagement.  


In the coming months you will continue to hear more about this unique program and ways in which MVC will integrate it on campus. The Gallup StrengthsQuest Departmental Training program is designed to help understand talents, reach goals, overcome obstacles, educate others about how to use strengths, and teaching teams to discover unique talents for team engagement and productivity. Stay tuned!


For questions please contact the Office of Professional Development at (972) 860-5614 or email me (Rebecca McDowell) directly.


Strength-Based Resources

My First Presentation (as Yoda)

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away (a.k.a. Mountain View College)…


My new role at the college still seems to be a mystery to most faculty and staff. The District has given me this enormous title that leaves people scratching their head. Our wonderful VP of Instruction, Dr. Doddy, even gets a confused look on her face when trying to remember the lengthy title. She graciously dubbed me Yoda to the entire campus during convocation last month. I think it is time to embrace the force and my unofficial title of Yoda (a.k.a. Distance Education Instructional Applications Integration Specialist).


My first endeavor as the campus Yoda (please feel free to call me an Instructional Technologist by the way) was to lead a session on Effective and Engaging Presentations. I am terrified when it comes to speaking in front of a group of people (a secret shared by many I’m sure). This Yoda is better imparting her knowledge one-on-one. I was outside of my comfort zone to say the least. The great thing about this presentation, it gave me the tools to build my confidence to present to a large group. See, sometimes you do just need to embrace the force (wink, wink).


There are three factors I covered that are to key a successful presentation, acknowledging common mistakes, designing more effective presentations, and finally ensuring you engages with your audience.


Common Mistakes

  • Lack of enthusiasm
    • monotone voice
    • reading the slides
    • back to the audience
  • Text travesty – your font is so bad it can’t be read
  • Bad theme – each slide has a different color and font design
  • Cluttered slides
  • Over animated slides

Designing More Effective Presentations

The next step is to make your presentation more effective. Your presentation can make a bigger impact by following these guidelines:

  • Have one idea per slide.
  • Use a template or theme to keep your slide appearance consistent.
  • Be sure your font is easy to read. This includes, style, color, and size.
  • Use content layout to enhance the slide:
    • Content flow – should flow left to right and top to bottom.
    • Condense content – no more than 6 lines per slide.
    • Don’t clutter the slide – use white space to focus attention on key elements.
    • Transition slides – use transition slides to move from one idea to another.

Engaging with Your Audience

Now that you are avoiding the bad habits that make presentations bad and you have made your presentation more effective, here are four tips to make your presentations more engaging.

  • Break the ice – have your audience interact by participating in a poll. If you will be doing group activities, have them turn to their neighbors and introduce themselves.
  • Tell stories – nothing makes a topic more interesting than a personal story relating to the topic. This lets the audience know that you are invested in the topic enough to share a story.
  • Polls and live questions – don’t just use this as an icebreaker. Use polls and questions throughout the presentation to reset your audienc’s mindset and refocus on the topic.
  • Increase audience participation – one way to achieve this is to the the audience be proactive in choosing the direction of your presentation. Layout your main points and use a live poll to let the audience choose the first point to discuss.


After researching, designing, and presenting on this topic, I am honestly say that I’m much more confident in giving a presentation to a large group. It is possible to overcome initial fears and help others by doing so…or as the real Yoda would say, “Help others, overcome fears you must.”


Now it’s your turn to use these tips to go out into the world and give your next amazing presentation. Don’t worry, you can always reach out to me to help point you in the right direction or towards a tutorial that will help you along your journey. After all, that’s what a Yoda does.

Thank You Volunteers


Thank you to all volunteers that made 2018 Spring Return Week a memorable experience. Over 60 people, including faculty, staff, administrators, and even our very own 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, IT,  individual presenters including Chancellor, Dr. Joe May, employee, and the best Student Ambassadors on earth!


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!