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i think it is so important to let our students know we are there for their life change and call the students when they miss class -show you care about them

Hi Michelle,
As you well know the key to a successful career college is student retention and placement. In order for this to occur instructors have to have a strong rapport with their students. As you learned in the Module, students need to know that someone cares about them and their success. As instructors we have to develop different ways of showing that we care about student success. This can be done through reward programs as well as grades. Encouragement is always welcomed. A kind word or a simple note of support often times makes the difference between retention and dropping out. In working with non-traditional students traumatic events occur in their lives that are often missed until the students “crash” in our courses. We need to be observation to changes in our students and work to be supportive when these changes occur. It is a fine line we walk between being intrusive and supportive. Instructors of excellence have developed strategies for walking this very thin line.
What strategies do you use to show your students that you care about them?

In my 20 years experience I have realized how many times we are the ONLY support the students have. Many are single mothers with not much else going for them. We have "teams" of students designed to work together on projects and basically be a support for each other while they are here.

Therese Vogel

Hi Therese,
Right you are about being a support to your students. Many times our students find
themselves in educational settings that can be trying at best. They are going back to

school to change their lives, while life continues to swirl around them. It is like trying to roller skate down a bobsled run. There are sides to the run to give general direction but the real challenge is to keep the wheels on the ice not crash.
We as instructors may be the only stable point these students have in their lives. As you mentioned the single mothers are trying to run their homes, care for their children, and make satisfactory progress in their school work. What a tremendous job of balancing. With a kind word, illustration of progress, and reward a long the way, instructors can have major impact on these learners.
Your use of student groups to work on projects while providing support is good. Peer support is very important. I have successful graduates with like kinds of backgrounds come into my classes and speak about how they completed school and are progressing in their careers. These individuals show the students how they can do it if they will continue to stay in school and work at their studies.
You have a clear picture of the need, keep up the caring.

We also need them to be resposnible, I have students phone in when absent, getting them use to doing this as they would on the job. This means having someone else phone if they've been hospitalized etc.. I have 32 students, would be tough to call them daily. As many as 6 may be absent in a day!

Hi Linda,
Yes, students need to be responsible. I am always surprised when students do not assume responsibility for their learning when they are paying a lot of money for the training and going to enter the career field of their choice. That should be enough to keep them engaged in the learning process, but as you know it is not always so. The students that need individual follow up on are those that are on the bubble of quitting school or in danger of failing the phase.
I like yourself require that the students phone in or email me to let me know of their attendance status. I push them hard on this because they are preparing for the work world and they have to be responsible. Sometimes maturity comes later for some individuals, so we just keep working on them.

The "peer groups" in our school have been very successful. They have an opportunity to support one another in many ways. There are study groups in particular that meet regularly. Students are committed to one another in these groups and help each other with child care, transportation, and general life solutions as they come up. Mostly they are successful in their group problem solving without help from college staff.

Jan Johnson

I agree that our students need to take responsibility. Many have not been trained in the simple act of "calling in" when they cannot come to class. There are instances when you can help them solve their barrier and come to class even late if you have a chance to talk with them.

There are time when our own support staff can help with the calling. I have found that students are positively impressed by a phone call and show of concern for their well-being.

Jan Johnson

Hi Jan,
It is amazing to me that we have to help our students with many of the “soft skills” that are needed to make them quality employees. These are suppose to have been taught in the high school years. As we know in many cases this did not happen or the lesson didn't take. Many such things as calling in and letting people know that something has come up or that they will be late to class. By being amazed I am talking about the fact that our students are adults. Somewhere along the way in their lives they did not develop these skills. I have found that I don't assume that they have these skills and that I incorporate them into my classes at every point that I can. This is part of the instructor being the model, manager and motivator for these students. We have many roles to play as we help these adults become skilled workers capable of competing in the workplace.

Hi Jan,
Great idea. People caring about people. So simple that many colleges don't use it. Based upon your feedback and the positive results they really should.

We started a program of student mentors. Each term we assign one mentor to 2-3 students. They meet on the first day of the term and are available to answer any questions that the new students might have. The mentors share the same major as the new students, so they can address class concerns, subject material problems, etc. They also go with them around the building and show them where all their classrooms are. The new students really seemed to like having a familiar face with experience that they could turn to if they need help. We received a lot of positive feedback about the program and plan to continue it.

When I call the students they seem to appreciate the caring, and have actually thanked me for calling. Although the students do need to be responsible, that responsibility is part of what we are teaching, and it takes time for that to happen. If we waited for them to call each time, some of the students would disappear.

Hi Kim,
Great idea. Anytime you can do something to reduce the fear factor for new students you are providing needed support. We all like to see a familiar face when we need to ask questions about something. Mentors are a way of keeping students focused on their course work while sorting out where they should be and what they should be doing.

Hi Sarah,
You are correct about students needing to be responsible. Occasionally though they need some additional support to keep them engaged in the learning process and giving them a call (as you mentioned) may be just the encouragement that they need to keep them coming to class. These students that are on the bubble of dropping out need to be supported to the maximum extent possible. They are in many cases facing personal situations that really conflict with their ability to continue in school. As professional educators we need to help in any way we can, I know in the long run they will appreciate it.

Our school has recently started to look closely at student retention and what we can do to keep students in school until they complete the program. One thing that we decided to do was host a Holiday Open House for the students with gifts, refreshments, door prizes and interactive games during their regularly scheduled class time. Our hope is that the Open House will help the students to understand that they are appreciated and that we as an institution care about them. We want to create an atmosphere that encourages interaction with other students. It's been stated in this forum that many students do not have a support system, we want to be that support system that helps them reach their career goals. We would like to host different events throughout the year to encourage students to interact with each other and form relationships with other students and staff. Does anyone have any ideas that have been successful for you?

Hi Sally,
I think you and your school is on the right path with having the open house. Anything the college can do to encourage the students and to show them that they are a part of the student body is a good thing.
Another major part of keeping the students engaged in the learning process is to develop a strong rapport with each student in each class. Experience has shown that an individual instructor is often the key reason a student stays in school, that student knows someone cares about them and wants them to succeed. Everything boils down to the basic of one on one relationships and how we project to students that we care about their success not only in our class but in their career.

I have found the same to be true.

Most students thank me for calling and I have yet to get a complaint. However, I feel that a big part of that is building rapport early.

I would imagine that most career colleges like us have a lot of the same issues, and we almost need to approach our job as a ministry (for lack of a better word) to get our students to where they need to be.


Hi Josefer,
There is no mystery to being a good instructor. It boils down to respect and rapport. If both of these are two way then I feel much of the "really" hard work is done. That is establishing a base of operation with each student. From then on you can focus on delivering the course content in such a way that the students can grasp it, apply it and practice it. Yet we work very hard to make it much more complicated than it is. By this I mean that we often start with the content and work toward the student rather than the other way around. Student centered instruction by a competent instructor is the key for career college success.

Because instructors have more contact with the students and to distribute the time required to call students, we started a "Retention & Rewards" program about two years ago which works like this: Students are asked to call the school if they are going to be absent. The call ensures they are allowed to make up classwork missed. Instructors are asked to contact any absent student who did not call. All instructors who retain 90 percent of their students during the five-week modular term is awarded a $50 "R&R" bonus. This has worked well for us; however, there are a couple of instructors whose attitude is that this is in conflict with teaching them to be responsible.

Hi LaVerne,
First it is sad that students who have elected to enroll in a career college to develop the skills needed to improve their lives have to be "chased" often times to stay enrolled. But, that is reality! Career colleges come up with many different ways of trying to keep students enrolled and your college has one that is working for you all.
I understand the instructors that have an issue due to the fact that this form of follow up is not teaching students to be responsible in one sense. I have always felt that I will do anything I can to keep the students engaged in the learning process because if I loose contact with the students I know I won't get them back. I try to follow up, encourage, and support them in any way I can, while hoping that they will mature enough to be responsible on their own.

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