We welcome back special guest, Professor Summer Serpas, who teaches English at Irvine Valley College in Orange 2 uneder smallCounty, California. Prof. Serpas is a member of the California Acceleration Project, which works with underprepared college students.

Part Two of Two

In this episode you’ll learn about:

  • Fiction: Underprepared students need hand holding.
    • I would argue against the idea that we are not supposed to hand hold at all.
    • We are also teaching students how “to do” college.
    • We are working to build autonomy in our work over the semester.
    • I structure the grading so that the grading does not count so much in the beginning.
    • In class, I really do almost no lecture. Students are in small groups, whole class discussions, and activities – so I can move through the class one on one.
    • Students say, “We want to work on this over the weekend”.
  • How do you work with students one on one during class?
    • I circulate around the room when they are working on a group activity.
    • While they are doing activities, I pull them up one by one and have a mini five-minute conference.
    • Students will often stay after class for one on one instruction.
    • It’s not “lecture” it’s more helping them out.
  • Fiction: At-risk students are often at risk because problems with English as a Second Language.
    • I personally would never categorize an E.S.L. student as an at-risk student unless he or she were making the choice to move out of an that E.S.L sequence before making native level proficiency.
    • Sometimes it’s fear based. 
    • The more we can work with our E.S.L Department, the more it will help. 
  • Fiction: Accelerated programs are really meant for intellectually gifted students–certainly not for at-risk students.
    • I think our gut instinct is to slow down when students are struggling and to take it step by step. 
    • My student stated that they were placed at the bottom of the pit.
    • Getting only 30% of students through to the college level writing class is not okay.
    • If we accelerate, we have to also then change our way of teaching. We have to follow that backwards design, we have to provide just in time remediation, and most important, we have to address those effective issues that are causing students to fail. If we do that together then I think that acceleration can work.
    • If we can change our approach to teaching, and really teaching in a way that will allow them to get where they want to be.
  • Do you have anything additional that you would like to share with our community?
    • I think it is important as instructors that we are always growing and changing.
    • This has really challenged me to have that “growth mindset” that I was speaking about for my students in my own teaching and being willing to grow as a teacher and change what I am doing and change my approach.
    • What I like about this approach is that it is very respectful to students.
    • To students: You can do this work and I can help you do this work”.
    • I feel better connected to my students.

Items mentioned in this podcast include:

Why Your Opinion Matters:

Our upcoming book:The Caring Professor: A Guide to Effective, Rewarding, and Rigorous Teaching, was written with feedback from many educators and students, which was our plan all along. We began by outlining our thoughts on a series of topics, then we recorded them to share with the world. From the feedback we received, we were informed about the needs of the student caring community. We need your feedback so we may continue to fulfill our mission statement and help students, the world over.

Thank you!

Daniel & David