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What have you learned from your project about the principles and practices of good teaching that you would like to share with your colleagues?

I have learned that the Achievement Gap is more than just a gap in performance in reading, writing and mathematics, but also includes poor study habits, assumptions about education and issues that complicate motivations to excel without excuses. In my work and teaching I have been teaching study skills and process skills on how to chip away at these gaps, which are man-made and can be eradicated with best practices in university teaching and learning.

In what way(s) did this project help your students gain new knowledge or skills?

My faculty development project enhanced my teaching by focusing on the whole student--not just the academic needs, but also the cultural needs and wants of our wonderful students. For example, in teaching about writing skills, process and performance of urban school students, I learned that one of my students had spent this entire junior high school experience in a school for adjudicated youth. Most of the skill development instruction he should’ve received, that is characteristic of middle or junior high school, was ignored and instead, the focus was on behavior. Consequently, the students’ parent spent four years fighting the school district to place in him a regular public school because the school district lacked justification to place him there in the first place. This is a crime that occurs to so many of young minority male students, and is an aspect of some of our students here at the University as well. So, once we find out this cultural experience, we can then use this knowledge to inform our teaching and instruction to increase the student’s achievement.

In what way(s) has your grant-funded project changed the way that you teach?

My grant funded project allows me to use more constructivist hands-on teaching tools, mini-research annotated papers, developmental writing projects, and group mixed ability projects that entail reading, writing, speaking and listening. In other words, because of the significant academic needs of a number of our students, I use differentiated instructional and learning styles teaching strategies and methods to increase student achievement. This approach is an intervention that works for “every student,” no matter what learning level they fall within.

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