On Thursday, September 15, the Annandale Campus provost conference room was full of faculty and staff eager to discuss ideas generated from Kathleen Gabriel’s book on teaching unprepared students, the Achieving the Dream (ATD) sponsored common read for Annandale this semester. The ATD staff focused the first Provost Forum on “Dreaming the Dream” which challenged faculty to hold on to their desire to create classes with students who are active in their learning to help the students ultimately achieve success.
Dr. Beverly Pittman from Annandale’s Physical Education Department led the group discussion. She shared her ideas on responding to students who come underprepared for collegelevel work. Her presentation was filled with ideas on how to better respond to students’ needs including information on developing “weapons” for mass instruction.
“Educating underprepared students can be a battlefield,” Pittman said. “Many have been repeatedly told throughout their lives that they are not capable of performing well and they believe it. Unfortunately, when caring faculty try to convince them otherwise, they ‘fight‘ against the very behaviors that would enable them to succeed.
As faculty, we have to develop ‘weapons’ of our own and ‘fight back.’” The main weapons in my arsenal are high expectations, structure and accountability,” Pittman continued. “Every semester, I see unprepared students at the beginning of the semester become very capable students by the end of the semester. They learn life lessons and self-confidence that prepare them for the next leg of their journey. I ‘win the war’ but so do they.”
ATD is a multiyear, national initiative focused on helping close the gap in achievement and success for community college students. ATD encourages colleges to create a culture of evidence, to track and monitor student successes, and to develop best practices for serving students. NOVA’s six major ATD initiatives are learning communities for students, new student orientation and registration sessions, First Year Experience, developmental math redesign, developmental English redesign and Student Development course redesign.
September’s forum was a starting point for the ATD conversations on the Annandale Campus. The Provost Forum series will continue throughout the fall and spring.