Tag Archives: students

Catch ’em Being Good

Thank you, Louise So. Reading your post, DON’T FORGET THE GOOD ONES inspired me to write about intrinsic motivation. As an elementary school teacher, I made an effort to encourage intrinsic motivation in addition to using extrinsic rewards such as handing out stickers and saying “good job.”

I learned that if I just narrated the behavior of a student, I didn’t need to compliment or correct the student. Simply describing the scene allowed the individual to create their own intrinsic compliment or correction. For instance, if a student was totally on task and following instructions, I would announce to the class, “Jennifer wrote her name and the date on her paper and she’s highlighting the nouns and underlining our sight words.” Now, Jennifer can create her own intrinsic reward in her mind and the rest of the class is reminded of the expectation.

I think the narration technique builds intrinsic motivation. Using explicit and relevant details sends the message that I noticed Jennifer’s efforts. Recently, while grocery shopping, I noticed how nice the produce section looked. I told the produce employee, “Your produce section looks beautiful. Every item is in perfect rows.” I think he was stunned by my observation.

I imagine that’s what most of us want – to know that once in awhile someone notices our hard work, not just our shortcomings.  As adults, we don’t need stickers on a chart, but isn’t it nice when someone notices our everyday efforts? Just like the swimmers in Louise’s post, recognition of our efforts encourages us to do even better.

 

 

And the Oscar Goes to….

On the heels of the Academy Awards, I was reflecting on our own “award winners” at GCC who are often unheralded for their tenacity and perseverance.  While attending the Arizona Academic All American awards ceremony last week, I met three such amazing students who were being honored with high academic achievement.  And like many Oscar nominees, the pathways they each encountered to reach this milestone were unconventional at best and complicated at least.  One of the individuals never thought college was in their future, having never graduated from high school.  Another was a non-traditional student who imagined the classroom would be filled with 18-year-olds and not conducive to a more life-experienced style.  Still another was bold enough to venture into a major where the prominent demographic was male.  In each case, these students climbed over rocks and traversed crater-like holes to achieve a GPA that qualified them for scholarships at one of the three public universities in Arizona.
 
We all know “potential All Americans” in our classrooms, walking down the courtyard, studying in our library.  They are dedicated but are challenged; they are accomplished if not introverted; they are reaching for a goal that no one thought they could attain and quietly and steadily making progress toward the goal…the degree or certificate that boosts them to the next level of success!  With small encouragement, these students too should be recognized for their accomplishments.  A word on their paper congratulating them on improvement from the last draft; full completion of a physics lab that had been particularly challenging; accomplishing the all-important verb conjugation that is a must in mastering another language.  While this progression may not be the stuff of fanfare, they are the significant steps as a student makes as they acquire the needed skills to continue to move forward.  
 
A Gaucho applause for the nominees and the academically accomplished winners!
 

Student Success (from a Fiscal Perspective)

How many times a day do you see, hear, or think about the phrase “student success”? It is our primary goal, our focus, and the driving force behind everything we do. What about when your job duties (including the “other duties as assigned”) do not bring you in direct contact with students? Can you still contribute to student success? The answer is yes.

This is something I think about often because we are frequently asked to report on how we promote student success and I have a job that does not bring me in direct contact with students. However, after reading some of my fellow bloggers’ posts, I found that I am not alone in my assertion that yes I can contribute to student success.

I promote student success by helping faculty members navigate the myriad of forms, processes, and systems we have in the fiscal world. When faculty members are successful at the non-teaching part of their jobs, they are likely to translate that feeling into a happier and more successful learning environment. In “Sincere Thanks from an Adjunct” Chris Krause says, “The positive feelings and willingness to help I have experienced outside the classroom spills over into my classes as well. Students are the direct beneficiaries of this. I can be more available and am more willing to advocate for them when needed, because I am happy and comfortable in the environment” (Write 6X6 Blog).

I promote student success by participating in the One2One mentoring program. This program allows me to share with students strategies I have used to overcome obstacles in obtaining a college degree or finding my way around campus or dealing with the pressures of family, job and college all at the same time. It gives me an opportunity to listen and learn what that student needs to be successful and offer guidance and reassurance that their goals are attainable.  Ladonna Lewis, in “Coming Out of the Closet,” says “We all have closets that we can come out of with our students when appropriate” and “Maybe we can just listen to them sometimes, and try to connect them with resources. Sometimes for students, just seeing that someone like them can be a college professor, or administrator, or professional, can help them see themselves achieving their goals” (Write 6X6 Blog).

I promote student success by identifying myself as an employee of GCC. When I walk through the Enrollment Center or across campus students routinely stop me and ask directions, how to work the computers, or where to get help with… you name it.  Every day I come to work there is an opportunity for me to make a difference, taking the time to stop and answer their questions (or find someone who can) is a little thing that can make a big impact. In “Feeling Disgruntled?” Ingrid Austin says, “Just remember that we’re here to make a difference and that everything we do should be done with pride, joy, and self-satisfaction because what we do matters.  It matters to the students who are out there making an effort to better themselves” (Write 6X6 Blog).

Finally, I hope to promote student success in the future by accepting the suggestion of President Kovala. In “Random Acts of Relief” she says, “… to pay it forward with these and any other great ideas to give our students the extra nudge to the finish line. Stopping a student on the sidewalk and simply asking how they are doing, or walking through computer commons or the Library and checking in with students as they are busily working on the computer. Better yet, when a student is in line at Grounds for Thought, offer to pay for their coffee. These small gestures go a long way to assure students know we care about them and their success” (Write 6X6 Blog).

 

Milo and Dilbert

*Milo, a GCC F-1 visa student, stuck his head into my office in the international education program one day and said, “Can I see you for a second?” He closed the door behind him (an unusual act unless there is a highly serious issue to discuss) so I was expecting the worst. But instead, Milo asked, “What’s a Dilbert?” “A Dilbert?” I repeated. “Yes, a Dilbert. An American student over in the high-tech center just called me a Dilbert.” Unfortunately, it’s not entirely unusual for international students to consult me about matters of this nature (bullying, comments, teasing). Upon arrival in America, they must traverse a sometimes unfamiliar and hostile terrain. Of course, I knew of the cartoon character, and knew that to call someone a Dilbert was considered an insult. But how was I going to explain this one? Initially, I Googled pictures of Dilbert to show to Milo, and wouldn’t you know it? The very first image I clicked on downloaded a computer virus. I myself had just been Dilberted! Through Wikipedia, I ascertained that Dilbert is a “fictional character…who has a rare medical condition…utter social ineptitude.” But I also found out that Dilbert is a graduate from MIT with a degree in electrical engineering, and an employee with good ideas (though seldom pursued because “he is powerless”). Dilbert’s creator, Scott Adams, penned, “Engineers are always honest in matters of technology and human relationships. That’s why it’s a good idea to keep engineers away from customers, romantic interests, and other people who can’t handle the truth.”** I learned that “Dilbert has a strong immune system and is therefore less likely to get sick than his co- workers. While in most respects weak and un-athletic, Dilbert is a skilled badminton player…Although he is an excellent worker, and does not stop trying, he acknowledges that this will get him nowhere.” Dilbert’s mother is an adept Scrabble player, and his father has been at a 24-hour, all-you-can-eat restaurant since 1986, where he intends to stay until he’s eaten all that he can eat. Ultimately, the international student and I discovered that Dilbert is an educated, employed and skilled man in excellent health who never stops trying. He has good ideas, and two parents (though, admittedly, one is absentee!). And though it turned out that being called a Dilbert was not the best thing in the world, it was also not the worst, and in the end, the cartoon character (sadly, Dilbert was eventually killed by a wild deer in 1990) acquired two brand new fans!

*Not the student’s real name

**The Dilbert Principle: A Cubicle’s-Eye View of Bosses, Meetings, Management Fads & Other Workplace Afflictions