The Challenge was thrown out to name names in this week’s 6 X 6 Blog and I’ll have to say I have a lot of names. I’ll start with Diane whose kind greeting always makes me feel welcome as I get my daily Coke Cola fix. Then there’s Richard, along with a team of talented co-workers, who spends his days making sure that our grounds look Ahhh-mazing! He’s not much for chitchat but he always has a smile when you say hi. Oh and how about the countless Student Workers who have graced us with their dedication and hard work! Those like Brianna, Tiffany, Amy, and Theresa who especially shine up my surroundings every day. Who hasn’t seen Chris?! He motors all over campus advocating for our military men and women. He even shaved his head for them! Then there’s those I watch working tirelessly to bring our students opportunities outside of campus like Laura and Anthony who daily assist students seeking jobs.
This is just my little corner of campus and I know Glendale Community College has a wealth of people all over campus that make a difference. These individuals bring warmth, beauty, and care to all to those they encounter. I am inspired by them, their dedication to the work they do, and the excellent services they give encourages me to do my very best.
I don’t know about you but when I transitioned from high school to college I was not ready. Funny thing is when I talked to my dad about it he also indicated that his experience was the same. Both of us bombed out of courses that first semester and had to recover. However he was quicker than me as he went on to get his degree in a few years and I took…20! I was a retention/persistence nightmare student. I never saw an advisor, declared all sorts of majors, went to several colleges, and took a WIDE variety of courses. Now I advise new first year students, Waahahaha!
I am sure it is easy to see why I can identify with the new student. When a student walks onto our campus for the first time it is at that very moment life changes drastically. So much is coming at them that even something as common as setting a password becomes foreign. We expect them to instantly understand, even know, common used words, processes, and requirements. I don’t know about you but I only know what I LEARN and I learn faster if someone takes the time to teach me. FYI, letting a student struggle to figure all this out is NOT student empowerment, that’s just laziness on our part. Going the extra mile will help our students go further down their educational path.
Each time we engage a student we have the opportunity to share in a learning experience. It is in these sorts of engagements that we can create change in our students’ lives, change in our campus, and change in our community. We need to understand that change takes time and it is our job to be patient. Each of us have the POWER to stimulate change in those we encounter by simply taking the time to share our knowledge.
I think Spiderman says it best…
Oh the student interactions we all must patiently work through! The above title is an actual email response from one of our students when invited to participate in the Early Alert Pilot program. As if the email, in all its colorful intensity, did not express the student’s feelings well enough he decided to come by personally. At the time it would have been so easy, and certainly justifiable to send this student on his Public Safety escorted way. As a spoiler, this did not happen.
In the community college each of us are called to educate, to bring growth, and to transform our students whenever we can. It is with those ideas in mind that we are an institution of many chances. It wasn’t known if is behavior might be because he was a first generation student, or for that matter, had any one or multiple combinations of a possible issues, because it really didn’t matter. Since what was known for certain is that he’s our student (GCC’s) and in need of our guidance to succeed. Yes, his words (in writing and spoken) were offensive but putting the reasons aside here was that moment to make an educational difference. One which could help a student change, grow, and move towards transformation. Student Success is impeded by a variety of elements but one of those elements should never be those of us who are suppose to guide.
After steering the student into a civil conversation it was determined that not only did he need the program, he also needed a lot of assistance simply understanding college concepts. Since the initial contact he’s been met with several times and although he still struggles, a relationship and the conversations are continuing. Our students need a place to mess-up, to find direction, to have those hard conversations, and to build healthy relationships. I’m proud to be apart of a team, and a institution that strives to create such a place. Go Gauchos!!
In my ongoing journey of professional development to increase my knowledge and skills as an academic advisor I am currently in the process of working on the Foundations of Student Services Certificate Program. As part of the program I was required to take EDU 250 – Teaching and Learning in the Community College. As an academic advisor I was tenaciously focused on delving into my craft and learning all I could about ADVISING students, so this class really wasn’t at the top of my list. As is goes, it has been the class which I was disinclined to take that has been the most useful! Little did I know that EDU 250 would provide me with some of the most essential skills I needed to serve students and help my team as we built the Gaucho 101 Program.
With the EDU 250 course under my belt I acquired a critical understanding of the many characteristics a community college student might have and the challenges some those characteristics bring. I have a new respect for our students and what it has taken for many of them to simply walk onto the campus. From the 1st Generation Student to the young parent who is balancing home, work, and school it is vital that each get advisement that suits their individual needs.
Then after examining the different learning styles of a student that awareness impressed upon me how important it is to build programs which incorporate different learning styles. I now deeply understand that just talking at a student might not serve their needs and how vital it is to include visual and tactile moments of learning when possible. Admittedly it takes time to add such elements to an advisement session but it gives the student more opportunity to truly learn.
What really rocked my advisor world was learning about course planning and design, as it gave me a good action plan for both advising students and building programs. I have endeavored to make these four elements of course design part of my every interaction with students and to do my best to bring them into any program our team designs.
- Knowing the aim, goals and objectives for the student
- Finding clear ways to present the subject matter
- Include learning activities
Beyond giving our instructors a solid foundation the EDU 250 course offers valuable knowledge at the heart of Student Services. I highly encourage anyone who advises students or works on student programming to enroll!!
As this New Year came I found myself needing to make changes and one of those changes was to get out of my chair during the day and walk the campus. I have found that not only are the walks a good form of physical exercise, but it also has been personally and intellectually stimulating. If you have ever have the opportunity to explore our campus you will find many lovely little spots. One of my current favorite spots is a mixed bed of flowers that grow in a riot of stunning shades and sizes.
Like the flowers there’s another wonderful spot I enjoy, which is on the main mall. The other day I took a moment to sit out under the umbrellas and listen for a while. I soon noticed that as people passed by I could hear several exquisite languages. I then began to look up and down the mall and I saw all types of beautiful people, from all over the world. I was filled with an understanding that although our world is in turmoil we of all ages, origins, religions, socioeconomic stratum, etc., can come together and enjoy the “flowers” of this educational institution.
I’m a bit of a Coke-Cola nut and one of my favorite ads of all time is begins with, “I’d Like to Buy the World a Coke”. As a kid listening to that song I couldn’t think of anything nicer than to share my favorite beverage, sing, and do kind things for other people. Yes, yes as a child you can see that I had some “coke bottle” thick, rose colored glasses, but really what would our campus look like if each of us were intentionally more kind? If we started going above and beyond to spend our days showing kindness to each student, staff, faculty, and administrator we come into contact with, what would the possibilities be? Would we see more smiles, more openness, and even more successes!
If you’ve taken time to read this post I challenge you (as I’ve challenged myself) to focus each day to be kind to those you encounter. I’d enjoy hearing about your experiences over a Coke…on me.