March 9th 2009

Puente Pedagogy and Praxis

Puente Pedagogy and Praxis

To piggy-back on yesterday’s post, I should add that I am presenting at 4Cs, not just attending.  I’m in a panel of Puente Instructors (which has dwindled as life caught up to us) presenting on the Puente Project and it’s possibilities for teaching in other places, near or far.

So, 9:30 to 10:45 this Friday join me in SanFrancisco!

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September 24th 2008

Excelencia in Education Celebration, Houston

Excelencia in Education Celebration, Houston

Blogging from Houston, today, where I represented COS Puente at the Celebracion de Excelencia at the National College Access Network conference.

I was happy to be present in Houston where COS Puente was announced as a semi-finalist for one of the 2008 Excelencia in Education grants.  Excelencia‘s president, Sarita Brown, explained that when Excelencia was founded in 2004, it’s primary goal was to collect and disseminate information on effective programs supporting Latinos in higher education, to work with “policymakers, higher education administrators, and other stakeholders improve opportunities for Latino students to succeed in postsecondary education” and to develop, document, and evaluate “demonstration projects and other programs to support the application of effective practices in public policy and in education institutions.”

Excelencia publishes several important reports on what is working for Latinos in higher ed, including Modeling Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs): Campus Practices That Work for Latino Students and VOCES (Voices): A Profile of Today’s Latino College Students.  Both these reports can be downloaded by following the links, as well as a forthcoming compendium of effective practices which will include COS Puente.

I met a number of interesting people at this “Celebration,” including Teri Lee from the University of California MESA program.  She mentioned our own Duane Goodman and the recently reserected MESA at COS.  Not only was it great to talk to a kindred spirit (this was the first conference I’ve attended where I knew no one), but she was representing the state program, which had also been a semi-finalist for a grant.

Look for more good things to come as we have a chance to be featured in the 2008 compendium of “best practices” for Latinos.

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August 22nd 2008

COSPuente a Semifinalist for Excelencia in Education Grant

COSPuente a Semifinalist for Excelencia in Education Grant

My Puente partner, Teresa Guadiana, submitted our program for an Excelencia Grant and we just learned we’re a semi-finalist!  Frankly, the amount of effort Teresa puts into the project is phenomenal and it is no wonder it is being recognized.  It is a group effort, though, and we have fantastic support, both from the campus–our president is one of the mentors for us–and from the community, and I am thinking particularly of Fred Ruiz of Ruiz Foods and Dr. Robert Aguilar who have both contributed extensively to keep our project healthy.

When you have a chance, visit the COSPuente web site and look at the faces of the students succeeding with us.  Every smile is worth all the work.

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August 22nd 2008

4Cs 2009 Convention in San Francisco

4Cs 2009 Convention in San Francisco

Not only is it too cool to have the 4Cs Convention in our state next year, but it is in my favorite city!  I lived in SF for a year or so a long time back, but I’d lived there in my head from the moment I stumbled on Gary Snyder in high school (more than a long time back).

So, I talked to some other people and wrote up a proposal for a panel presentation–and we’re in!  I suppose there are people who have written and presented at 4Cs so much that it’s nothing any more.  Not me; I’m like a kid over it.

Our panel is on the Puente Project in California and srategies we use that can filter back to others, we hope.  My co-presenters and friends are Scott Sandler, Susie Huerta, Maria Tuttle, and Grace Ebron.  If you’re there, come root for us!

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July 25th 2008

Puente PSI 2008

Puente PSI 2008

As I write, I’m attending my second Puente Summer PSI of 2008–the summer training for Puente counselors and English teachers. I’m presenting, but as a presenter, I’m always listening to the other presenters, the other ideas that people use in their classrooms. We’re all presenters when we teach and I think we also should be students at the same time.

Puente has really helped me connect to a community of committed instructors and active learners. I find that most of my colleagues want to have this connection, but time or money or life interferes. I feel privileged, and lucky frankly, to have the connection kind of mandated for me–they’re actually paying me to do what I enjoy doing anyway.

I know people who feel that learning has stopped–they have their degrees, they’ve been trained–what is the point of this connection? I have a problem with this rigidity. The world changes, people change. Life is a constantly evolving process. Who says that what we know today is all the learning we need? Why not share pedagogy and problems and successes and see what others are doing? I expect my students to approach the process of writing–and the process of critical thinking–as an evolving one. Why should my own process be different?

More importantly, as instructors we share students; my students, successful or not, are and will be someone else’s student. I need to help them succeed beyond my classroom and I feel this is a responsibility all instructors must take seriously. So it makes no sense, to me, to isolate myself. Indeed, I should be connecting across the campus to see what other disciplines are looking for in my students. The college (as an institution) looks to English faculty, for example, to instill writing and thinking processes that are the prerequisites for success in other disciplines. We really should all be talking together so that we each learn from the other.

I also know people who tell me that conferences are dull, jargon-laden, and repetitious. Many presenters are boring or overly enamored of themselves (or both). But of course, like anything, you get out of an activity what you put into it. Choose wisely! Skip the jargon-ish presentations (or listen for the message behind the jargon) and make connections with people who, like you, want a more dynamic experience.

Puente has given me that dynamic experience and helps me connect with people outside my discipline. It allows me to participate in my own growth and learning.

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