Saturday, September 4, 2010

In response to community colleges giving students who fail a second chance in life!

A recent article condescended to the students who are in college who do not "deserve" to be there! It incited me, so here is my retort, and logic to their obviously amoral judgement!

So many times I have seen students do a slow burn and then go OFF like a firecracker...and NO small wonder either! They may learn differently but they do learn! It is OUR job to teach them!

Essential Skills for Reading, English Composition  and Critical Thinking & Reasoning Skills,  are all developmental courses I teach for many of the students who would fall in this category (alternative learners, slipped through the cracks, and below ability level of ZPD, their zone of proximal development!). Believe me when I state, I have on average 25 students per course ALL who are  below their grade ability level or scored low enough to take these mandated  and the retraining in this poor economy, enrollment is at an all time high this fall semester. These students never received the differentiated instruction due them while in secondary education, were pushed through the cracks, and now it is up to community colleges and corporate America to be the gatekeepers of our youth and the future leaders of the United States. In most cases these are very intelligent students who have not had the benefit of differentiated instruction to meet them where they are at in order to get them where they need to be.

 I call myself a "boot camp" instructor, but one who will instill in them a variety of strategies for reading and writing comprehension fluency; a  rigorous class with total immersion in the langugae acquisition process. My courses are student-centered with their learning outcomes as the focal point instruction. At the end of this week's first classes I have students petitioning to be allowed into my sections. Unfortunately I am unable to honor their requests. Too many students per class in a developmental (intervention) clinical diagnostic course, where  immediate feedback, authentic and diagnostic assessments  by the instructor requires lower student to teacher ratios to procure successful student learning outcomes. Accepting petitions would defeat the learning objectives and the outcomes, thereby promoting further lack of success. The goals of these courses is in 15 weeks to have our learners on pace and ability level to begin courses in their majors with the age approprate writing, reading, and critical thinking skills indicative to a "college student" who has developed these in their prior education!

Our nation continues to fail to meet the needs of its students in the public and private sectors at all levels. To complicate this there remains a huge shortage of highly qualified educators as well as a lack of strong professional staff developmental workshops aimed at teacher and student retention regardlesws of socioeconomic and racial diversities of the community cultur. This indicates a need for extensive research, and restructuring of the mindset of curricula design and its implementation nationwide. The only constant we have is change and change we must or risk becoming extinct as forerunners in global ranking of higher education.

Valrie A. Verhoeven

MSE REading SPecialist

Doctoral Candidate Teaching & Learning

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