No Learner Left Behind
In the summer 2014, the process began to develop what has become the Living and Teaching Inclusively trainings (with Serving Inclusively coming soon). Funded through the Title III Grant, the intent was to have “teachers teaching teachers” on ways to reduce the success gaps that exist among whites and learners of color. This phenomenon is not unique to NWTC, but we devised a plan that has been come unique in a way as we are one of the first college’s that is requiring such training for all faculty and staff.
The trainings were designed to help the College achieve its 2018 Strategic Goals in relation to improving the measurables of our diverse student population. The goals of the College were ambitious. There was a focus on increasing the enrollment, success, persistence and completion rates of non-white learners, all which lagged behind our white student population.
Two weeks ago, Achieve the Dream Data Facilitator Bruce McComb was on campus for his regularly scheduled visit and our team met to discuss our progress. Being about half way into a three year process, we reviewed the data to see if we were making any sort of positive impact. Unfortunately, the impact has yet to be seen in the data. While we weren’t expecting that a year plus of attention to this issue would eliminate such a embedded societal problem, the overall data was mildly disappointing as it did not identify that we had shifted towards making a positive impact.
Yet, we are undeterred. The issues we are addressing have been decades and generations in the making. We are trying to address systematic inequities that equip some students better than others before they arrive on our campus and the variance in preparedness usually differs on racial, ethnic and social class lines. We could work directly on this issue for decades and still not overcome all of the barriers.
There was major takeaway from our meeting however that provides some optimism that we have positioned ourselves to reach our goals. Over the course of the last year and half or so, dozens of faculty (and lately some staff) have gone through the trainings and the ideas that have been developed collectively to employ individually in their classes are amazing. Hopefully, we have created the structure that will allow the positive impact to emerge.
Most importantly, as it was discussed, is that we can make a difference by focusing on one student at a time. When we have conversations discussing some the entrenched barriers we discuss, it can become overwhelming and make you want to throw your hands up in resignation that the issue is too big to be addressed by anyone person. But, it can be. And hopefully it will be. If we can make a difference every day from a single student, we will slowly start chipping away at the gaps that exist between our various student populations. Hopefully, incremental success will give way to large-scale success. Learner by learner. Day by day. Term by term.