The persistent inner voice questions me daily. How do I build and maintain a post-secondary course culture in my high school classes? I’m a second-year college credit plus (CCP) English teacher. I’m also a professional and a standards advocate.
Ethics and guidelines matter to me.Though it would be easy to teach students the same way I taught AP English or even a junior or senior English class, CCP Comp 101 and 102 are not traditional high school courses. High school students are taking these courses for transcripted college credit. Therefore, the college board requirements and the 11-12th grade Ohio writing standards are no longer my guide.
When we first received this teaching assignment 2 years ago, my colleague who also teaches CCP Comp and I knew that we needed to meet with our community college’s English rep. Since collaboration is an integral aspect of our high school teaching culture, it was natural to reach out and link arms with our higher ed colleagues. Building rapport took time because we were not on the same campus and assumptions about our domains (secondary vs higher ed systems) needed to be clarified. However, after orientation and emails, we built the communication bridge.
I’ve learned and developed my approach to instructing the CCP classes. Initially, I believed that there were no guidelines. I foolishly thought I had total freedom because my erroneous assumption was that college instructors do their own thing. Ha! The guidelines that the college English department has for Comp 101 and 102 have clear objectives and learning outcomes. From rhetorical knowledge, to critical thinking, reading, and writing, students would be building their knowledge of the composing process. They would be developing collaborative skill, applying knowledge of writing conventions and be composing in electronic environments.
My second awareness hit me when theory and practice collided. Yes, based on test data, many students were college ready and most of them had the college-ready “survival skills,” of self-direction, independence, self-advocacy, ability to handle the rigor of the syllabus and keep the pace, and thoughtful ownership and engagement in developing their writing skills. However, they are still 16 and 17 years old. So, making professional decisions about whether to hold steadfast on expectations or to seize the opportunity of teachable moments became commonplace. For example when a girl came to me and asked how do I cite a work in an anthology, I sat down and cognitive coached her through the process instead of giving her the answer or telling her to go figure it out. While many others navigated the electronic resources on their own, those that cared but were slightly lost needed extra attention. Therefore, incorporating conference time aka office hours into my syllabus, and encouraging students to initiate the contact has been helpful for CCP students.
No matter what, CCP requires students to be accountable. As well, teaching CCP demands my accountability to the college and to my students.
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