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Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Impacting Students for a Lifetime - Part 3

Continued blog post series by Sally Heilstedt, Associate Dean of Instruction - Engagement and Learning at LWIT 

Check-In Regularly

Pay attention to student behavior and track student progress. Empathize with students ("I am exhausted today, too. Let's make the best of this class together."). When a student is struggling, intervene.

I recently shared my excitement about The 4 Connections with a faculty member at Olympic College. When I described checking in regularly, she shared an awesome practice that she had adopted intuitively during her years of teaching. She creates a printable spreadsheet for each class that includes the students’ names in the far left column and the dates of the class sessions in a week across the top. When she interacts with an individual student, she puts a check in their row under the date she spoke with them. It may be something as simple as, “How is your cat doing?” As the week comes to a close, she reviews who she has yet to connect with and makes sure she seeks them out intentionally before the week is over. The faculty member began this practice because she recognized her own weakness – she often provided individual attention to students who were doing well and to students who were struggling, but she easily overlooked those who were doing all right. She didn’t want to miss anyone.

This example shows that The 4 Connections are practices that good teachers do naturally – and practices we can all do more intentionally to better connect with our students. A similar example is formative assessment. It is an excellent way to check in regularly about students’ learning.

As the faculty members at LWTech practiced checking in regularly with their students, they began to learn more and more about the students’ struggles and needs. Frequently, those needs went beyond teaching and learning and related to issues students were facing in their personal lives. Your college has many resources available for students on campus. One of the best ways to support students, those who are excelling and those who are struggling, is to refer them to those wonderful resources. Even better, walk them to the services and help them connect with someone there.  Not sure what the resources are? Find the Student Handbook on your college website or connect with an adviser in Student Services.  Look for programs like TRiO, disability support, counseling, tutoring, BFET, and more. Worried about remembering all that is available? No worries! Demonstrating use of the Student Handbook to find information is a great way to model help-seeking behavior to students.



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