From CUNY Academic Commons
Here are some of my ideas in response to the four learning goals.
Overall, I expect that the ways we can best serve these students in the Summer Bridge Program is to provide a unique opportunity for students to make a “fresh start.” This should not be a continuation of the high school experience; rather a new commitment is made. Students can define and or redefine what academic success is for them and determine how their definitions, goals and expectations, align with the New Community College experience.
The New Community College Summer Bridge mission should be very specific and all the students should be able to easily articulate the mission and why they have enrolled. The reason why I say this is because I strongly believe there are some things that we can not ensure and teach. I am speaking specifically to “willingness.” Let’s not spread ourselves too thin to think that all the students are going to grab a hold on to everything but the experience should be engaging and the learning goals should be transparent, and achievable. If a student can listen and follow instructions they should achieve some level of merit or success for the day. Too often we are looking at the exceptional student and his/her achievements and not enough on the student who follows “the plan.” The Summer Bridge Program should if nothing else has a daily set of performance tasks that we can evaluate and measure based on “the plan”.
More importantly, the Summer Bridge experience should provide the professors with insight into the students overall needs and who the “First Year Students” are. It assists the professors in designing and/or revising their curricular goals. It would be really great if the students receive a “progress note” at the end of the program which specifically addresses that his/her learning goals and achievements. The students should leave knowing their academic challenges/and or areas of improvement. This is simply honest communications about where they are academically and where we “think” they are socially, and emotionally. If there are areas of weakness, it will provide them with a list of things they can do or places they can go for the support they need. And lastly, the letter should also end hopefully about what that student can look forward to starting in September and speak to their individual potential.
I envision the students gathering together each morning as a “Summer Bridge Assembly” before instruction begins and there is a focus for the day. These should be theme based and very affirming. In order to promote newness perhaps we look to incorporating some traditional aspects of college life. For example, students will learn and sing a school alma mater and recite a school mantra. My main point is too looking at bringing about a ritual so that we set a tone for learning. Again, these are my thoughts to steer away from the “high school experience.” These assemblies can include inspiring guest speakers who are a part of the New York City work force. For instance, it could be a sanitation worker, a firefighter, a nurse, etc, a talent producer. These people should tell their stories; maybe they were a first generation college student. Maybe they had struggles that they overcame in education that they could share with the students. In some way, this could rejuvenate the students and keep them inspired to achieve their goals and encourage them to take risks. Each day the students are given an opportunity to rededicate themselves to learning in a brand new way. Summer Bridge should challenge the students to think about their future critically and at the same time realize what is possible.
It came up in our initial discussion about the placement tests or a diagnostic assessments I agree we need to assess the student’s individual skills assessing their math skills, reading and writing skills, and along with that I’d like to propose we include an academic self-perception test. I am thinking about a rubric of sorts to assess how they see themselves as learners. The questions on the rubric should address and include their individual needs and societal pressures they feel will greatly impact their academic success. This could include finances, relationships, living conditions, resources i.e. computers, printers, etc. While it is very important that we are transparent with the goals and expectations of the summer and beyond, it is also equally important for college faculty to listen to the students and their goals and expectations, difficulties and/or excitements. Establishing healthy communications is extremely important to helping the students distinguish between co-dependency and interdependency in a collegiate environment.
Once this assessment or diagnostic test is evaluated the students should separated into smaller cohorts and meet and be assigned to a faculty advisor. The groupings of students should really be mixed so that the students are in a position to become peer advocates. At the moment, I will refer to these groups “Discovery Groups”. These “Discovery Groups” these groups should meet twice a day once in morning and the afternoons to talk about the discoveries made throughout the day. This can be the “safe place” where the students learn about their academic resources (as outlined in goals. Here they can familiarize themselves with the meta-learning processes and begin to explore and identify their learning styles and multiple intelligence. Perhaps this group they will need to fulfill an academic requirement and achieve a long-term planning goal. The “Discover Group” could also be “Book Club” where they are reading a novel and discussing it. The novel could really be selected according to level of difficulty and subject matter that might relate to this group.
The required reading, writing, and research skills necessary to succeed in this Summer Bridge Program should be interconnected and related to their final project. Each day the students the students should be given a set of tasks that they must meet individually and collectively. I envision this as a cross-curricular collaborative assignment that ties in the relevant topics as they relate to New York City. Some of the topics that might be explored are: historic neighborhoods and communities, the New Harlem or Artist Renaissances happening across boroughs, gentrification and entrepreneurship to name a few, and the green projects the ones in particular that focus on rerouting traffic and city parks and community gardens, and trend setting in an Urban Environment.
These topics seem to lend themselves to some exciting off-site research and on-going assessment, perhaps interviews and meetings with perhaps (CUNY Alumnae) and local government offices. My hope is the research and writing and reading are relevant to their lives and livelihood as it pertains to the New City College mission, curricular goals and objectives. This is where I believe learning will be fun, informative, and transformative. Somehow, I’d like the students to incorporate the math skills necessary to present their ideas and in some cases use empirical data to argue their point of view. I feel that this assignment could be reviewed by a panel of faculty members and that professors teach a skill-building class or skill-sets that must be included in the research criterion. This is again offers the students some opportunity to incorporate technological skills within their presentational skills in addition to them writing and submitting their final papers.