Sunday, October 2, 2011

Adjunct Faculty Conference, Part II

At the adjunct faculty conference I attended recently, there had been several different breakout sessions one could attend, four of which were designed such that one could attend any two. I chose the longest of the breakout sessions, a two-hour workshop focused on learning styles and interactive teaching strategies. It turned out to be a really useful session. We ran short on time, but many teaching strategies were modelled, and all those who attended received a packet that modelled or explained the teaching strategy.

One activity was especially interesting was Four Corners: In each corner, a giant Post-It was stuck to the wall with one of the following phrases written on the Post-It: Strongly Agree, Agree, Disagree, Strongly Disagree. Sean, the educator training consultant who led the workshop, gave us the following statement to consider: "Regardless of academic background or academic experience, any student can achieve success at college." (I may be paraphrasing a bit, but key phrases such as "academic background," "academic experience,' and  "can achieve success" were part of the statement. If we were to use this exercise in our own individual classrooms, we would obviously use a more apropos statement, depending on the lesson at hand.)

Each teacher in the workshop was then to go the corner with the appropriate post-it, depending on one's own viewpoint. I was surprised by how many teachers went to the "strongly agree" and "agree" corners; at least two-thirds of the teachers went to one of those two corners; I went to the "disagree" corner.

I suspect that it's not a politically correct view in thinking that not everyone should attend college. To my mind, this has less to do with intelligence (many intelligent people do not attend college; likewise, there are some pretty dense people who attend) and more to do with professional interests. Likewise, not everyone should attend college right out of high school; again, this has less to do with intelligence and much more to do with self-esteem and emotional and mental maturity. Some (like me) need to grow first and get a better sense of self. These people would get more out of college - and "succeed" by going later.

How "success" is defined is also something to consider; if the goal is to learn and grow as an individual, then many students can indeed attend college and succeed without graduating. If the goal is to get a college degree, then not everyone will succeed. Hopefully, one grows and learns something at college and manages to get a degree, but this doesn't always happen, at least the first time around.

It was an interesting exercise, and I came away with a few ideas to integrate into my classroom.

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