Back to School: Preparing for Student Success with ACUE

As a new academic year gets underway, we asked ACUE Certified faculty to share insights and words of wisdom for faculty whose learning journey is just beginning. In their own words, here are five ways faculty can start the year strong and get the most of their experience:

  1. Start Small
  2. Take Risks
  3. Cultivate a Community
  4. Share with Students
  5. Tips for Staying Organized

1. Start Small

Mike Wesch headshot

Michael Wesch, Kansas State University

“If you are pressed for time, just try one new thing. Even just one new thing can create a little ‘edge’ and excitement to the day and energize your class.”



Shauntae Brown White HeadshotShauntae Brown White, North Carolina Central University

“Don’t get overwhelmed. You cannot overhaul your class all at one time. Select a few things you can successfully implement at the time.”



 Erin Whitteck – headshot Erin Whitteck, the University of Missouri – St. Louis

“There are so many great strategies shared in the ACUE program that at first, it may seem overwhelming. Keep a notebook or teaching journal where you can collect some of those ideas and put them into practice later. Be strategic about what you implement now and save some new ideas for later.”


2. Take Risks

Andrew Ishak HeadshotAndrew Ishak, Santa Clara University

“‘It’s all practice for the next class.’ I put that thought in my head so I’m not scared of trying out new ideas or making mistakes. That mindset frees me up to make the class better through experimentation, which often leads to enhancements that I wouldn’t have discovered otherwise.”


Shauntae Brown White, North Carolina Central University

“Teaching is an evolving art. Some things will work for you one semester, but not another. Don’t be afraid to try new things.”



Rachel Emas, Rutgers University–Newark

“Show yourself the same grace that you show your students. Learning how to teach can be a challenge (especially for those already teaching) and we won’t get it perfect every time–but the goal is growth, not perfection.”



Amara Hand, North Carolina Central University

“Every module is an opportunity for immeasurable growth and continuous improvement toward your pedagogical craft. You have the power to create courses, assessments, and learning experiences that mean something, and ACUE is giving you the tools to build it yourself. Bask in every revelatory moment of your ACUE experience. You’re going to learn so much about yourself and your endless capabilities as an educator.”


Christina Zambrano-Varghese, Rutgers University–Newark

“When I first completed the ACUE course in Effective Teaching Practices, some of the teaching methods that I was most hesitant to try led to the most impactful learning for my students. This was also crucial for me to know how it felt to take risks in the classroom, so I could give students the same opportunity to make mistakes. With these risks, true transformation was able to occur.”


3. Cultivate a Community

Head shot of Matthew WitterMatthew Kalei Witter, City College of New York

“My advice is to take time to review the material and really get into the exercises. The students really benefit from it. Also, get to know your cohort, because they are so helpful during and after the program.”



Katie Surber, Wake Technical Community College.

Patricia Bostian – Headshot Patricia Bostian, Central Piedmont Community College

“Embrace the interactions with your classmates. In taking your course, commit to chatting with other instructors. The new ideas will take root much more successfully if you take the time to listen to others and be willing to think through new strategies aloud, providing others with the benefit of your own thoughts.”


Tammy Bird - headshot

Tammy Bird, Durham Technical Community College

“Plan enough time in your week to engage with others in the discussion board. I found this part of the training extremely valuable, as we were all processing and thinking together.”



Brandon Cooper headshotBrandon Cooper, Texas A&M

“Find someone in your cohort to connect with for accountability and motivation. You will appreciate having someone to bounce ideas off of and strategize with.”



4. Share with Students

Dale-HoffmanDale Hoffman, American River College

“Choose a course you would like to improve and try out the resources you learn about in ACUE. Share this with your class. Offer them the opportunity to give feedback on the innovations you use. They will love that you, too, are a student!”


Subhadra Ganguli - headshotSubhadra Ganguli, Bloomsburg University 

“I recommend taking advantage of the self-reflection exercises and written assignments, like the ‘Note to Yourself’ at the end of each module, to understand how your learning can be implemented to improve your courses. These are powerful tools for self-reflection and they reminded me of additional things to execute in my future courses.”


Christine Neubert - headshot - ACUE

Christine Neubert, Indian River State College

“Be open with your students that you are in ACUE and will be trying out new things with them. My students responded positively to being my ‘test subjects’ even when a technique did not go quite as planned because they felt included in the process and important contributors to my own learning journey.”

5. Stay Organized and Manage Your Time

Robin Willoughby – headshot – ACUERobin Willoughby, Indian River State College

“You will have so many new tips, tools, and other resources available to you. You don’t want to miss any of them. Be sure to look at the resources listed at the end of each module. Before you even begin, designate a storage place for all of these amazing ACUE materials.”


Kara Finch - Headshot – ACUEKara Finch, Stanly Community College

“Be patient. Take your time. Understand that while there are so many excellent practices that you can implement to make your courses better, you can’t do it all overnight. Keep notes of each of the new practices you want to implement and work on them one at a time in your courses.”




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