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Chaparral 2018-2019: 27.1 Reaching Across: Building Bridges with Colleagues

Reaching Across: Building Bridges with Colleagues 

by Julie Gamberg and Sandy Somo

In this column, employees of Glendale College with different roles engage in dialogue about their departments / divisions, as well as thoughts about a more student-centered campus. Partners are given the same three questions to ask one another, and the option of additional questions and/or taking a selfie together. If you are interested in participating in this dialogue, please feel free to email Sandy Somo or Julie Gamberg (ssomo@glendale.edu; jgamberg@glendale.edu)

Joining us for the very first edition of this column are Monette Tiernan, English Faculty Member, and Austin Kemie, Admissions and Records Staff Member.

Monette

How long have you been at GCC, and what do you do here?

Austin

I'm in my seventeenth year at GCC and have worked consistently in Admissions and Records. Early on, I was a Graduation Evaluator and then moved into processing such items as applications, transcripts, verifications. Amidst all of this, I also worked with students at the registration counter as needed. My role slowly evolved into supervising and project management—for example, I spearheaded the E-Transcripts project, whereby institutions can receive transcripts electronically. Currently, I continue with much of the above, along with handling major student complaints and conflicts.

Monette

What do you wish people to know about your division that you think they might not totally understand?

Austin

I would like people to understand more about the division of labor within student services (and A&R, in particular). For example, an instructor or student might visit A&R to inquire about a grade issue, but not everyone in A&R handles grade issues, and because A&R is composed of different areas of specialty, complications can arise. It would be great for people to identify the issue about which they need information and then inquire about the best person to speak with.

Additionally, people outside A&R often don’t understand the large amount of information that is processed (and often presented on the A&R website). Recently, during a “questions from the audience” portion of a presentation, someone voiced the concern that GCC still doesn’t have a way for students to request their transcripts online! As the lead implementer of the E-Transcript project, I wish that people would go to the A&R website prior to criticizing!

Monette

When you think about our movement toward a more student-centered campus, how can the rest of the campus be more supportive of your division/department?

Austin

College students are now asked to do more and more in order to be successful. But often from the outside, we don’t see what pressure is on our students. How can we best support their development? I love the idea of Guided Pathways because I attended community college, and while there I accumulated, probably, 100 units before I finally finished. We need to strengthen all levels of support to ensure not only that students might reach completion, but also that learning is happening.

How can we aggregate student support so that services are flexible in relation to student needs and in relation to the changing needs of individual students? We need conversations between instructors and other student services across all divisions and departments. We need to be able to say to students that GCC is their community and their home, and we are here to support them throughout their educational process. Hopefully those kinds of conversations can occur more frequently through a Guided Pathways structure.

Austin

How long have you been at GCC, and what do you do here?

Monette

I've taught at GCC for 18 years, 3 years as adjunct faculty and 15 as full-time. I teach English in the area of composition. I've also taught Humanities, although not currently, and previously served as division chair for the English department.

Austin

What do you wish people to know about your division that you think they might not totally understand?

Monette

I would like people to know that the skills required to teach English are not as easy as some may perceive. One reason for this complexity is how long it takes for students to assimilate the writing ability and retain what they’ve learned. At times, people may think just because a student completed English 101 or 102, they should instantaneously become fluent writers. However, with writing, fluency often takes time to emerge. 

Also, students are asked to do more now as writers than in the past. I remember when I was in college, learning to write major research papers or various citing styles did not arise until I was completing a senior thesis as an undergraduate. Today, I think students are conducting major research much earlier, in some cases as early as in K-12. And when we're asking students to do more in college – especially at the developmental level in an accelerated program – we need to be all the more aware of the pressure they are under and the need for support that extends beyond the English instructor. 

I also would like people to know the effects of AB 705 on our English division. Changes stemming from AB 705, or multiple measures and acceleration, necessitate structural rearrangement of writing classes. The bill allows for only one developmental class below English 101, eliminating additional developmental English courses for students who fall 2 or more levels below. I want to make sure that others understand that English is not "abandoning" developmental students who may need the additional support. 

Austin

When you think about our movement toward a more student-centered campus, how can the rest of the campus be more supportive of your division/department?

Monette

I understand the importance of students having a straightforward path to their educational goals. The easier it is to clarify students’ options, the better. A structural solution to get students to see what they need may not be enough, especially with English, where students may need more deeply personal assistance with emotional and academic maturity. I believe support through face-to-face communication is important for students who are unsure of their major, or who find themselves feeling that they are in a course over their head. I hope that the structure (pathways) will have various supports to meet student needs. The more we accelerate students, the more we must provide support that fits their needs and strengthens their academic will.

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