Letting Students Lead with Dody Pelts

Welcome to Episode 28 of the ThinkUDL podcast: Letting Students Lead with Dody Pelts. Dody is the Director of the Jones Learning Center at the University of the Ozarks in Clarksville, Arkansas. Dody came to the CollegeSTAR Student Support Network Retreat where Lillian had the chance to talk to her about what the Jones Center is doing to support a variety of students with learning differences. Our conversation focuses on how student-centered approaches engender a campus climate that nurtures expert learners. Today’s conversation also touches on peer tutors, support for student anxiety and first year students in general, the technology-positive campus culture at the University of the Ozarks, and how small, simple steps that instructors undertake can make learning better for all students. 

If you are interested in learning more about the topics discussed in this episode, please find the resources for this episode below. You will see links to articles about students’ perceived and real learning, and the campus initiatives mentioned during our conversation.

Resources

Learn more about the Jones Learning Center at the University of the Ozarks here.

Measuring actual learning versus feeling of learning in response to being actively engaged in the classroom by Louis Deslauriers, Logan S. McCarty, Kelly Miller, Kristina Callaghan, and Greg Kestin

Compass Initiative at the University of the Ozarks See how a tech-positive campus culture helps all students succeed!

Compass for students Here’s what it means for students and their curriculum at the University of the Ozarks.

Transcript

[Lillian]  Welcome to Think UDL, the Universal Design for Learning podcast.  Where we hear from the people who are designing and implementing strategies with learner variability in mind. 

[Music] 

I’m your host, Lillian Nave, and I’m interested in not just what you’re teaching, learning, guiding, and facilitating, but how you design and implement it, and why it even matters.  

[Music] 

Welcome to episode 28 of the Think UDL podcast: Letting Students Lead with Dody Pelts.  Dody is the Director of the Jones Learning Center at the University of the Ozarks in Clarksville, Arkansas.  Dody came to the College STAR student support network retreat where I had the chance to talk to her about what the Jones Center is doing to support a variety of students with learning differences.  Our conversation focuses on how student centered approaches engender a campus climate that nurtures expert learners.  Today’s conversation also touches on peer tutors, support for student anxiety (and first-year students in general), the technology-positive campus culture at the University of the Ozarks, and how small simple steps that instructors undertake can make learning better for all students.  If you’re interested in learning more about the topics discussed in this episode, please find their resources for this episode on our thinkUDL.org web page.  There, you will see links to articles about students perceived and real learning, and the campus initiatives mentioned during our conversation.  Thank you for joining me and Dody Pelts for our conversation today.  I’m here at the College STAR student support network retreat, where I get to interview several of our student support specialists from around the country, and today I have Dody Pelts, who is the Director for Jones– for the Jones Learning Center at the University of the Ozarks, and Dody can you tell me what you do there as the director of the Jones Center? 

[00:02:23] 

[Dody]    Sure.  It’s my privilege actually to be the Director of the Center, and to work with such amazing individuals every day.  It really is a calling.  We work with between 50 and 60 students daily who have either specific learning disabilities such as dyslexia, dysgraphia, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or students on the autism spectrum at some degree.  So, we work with them individually just to facilitate and support their learning outside of a typical liberal arts college classroom. 

[00:03:01] 

[Lillian]    Oh great, and how many how many students do you have at the University of the Ozarks?  

[00:03:08] 

[Dody]   The total enrollment is– we’re a very small, private school, and so we have between 850 and 900 students a semester.  So, we have about 60 of those  850 to 900.  

[00:03:24] 

[Lillian]   Wow.  

[Dody]   And our students are totally engrossed in the college atmosphere.  So, there’s nothing different about what they do.  They complete the same classes, they complete the same papers, they take the same tests, they graduate with a bachelor’s degree just like everyone else does, they just come to us for support outside the classroom. 

 [00:03:42] 

[Lillian]   Right, right.  And I know that many students will–when they go to college, may not disclose that they have a learning difference, so you probably have even more on your campus.  

[00:03:55] 

[Dody]    That’s right–absolutely we do.  We’re actually one of two programs on our campus, so we’re a very supportive campus when it comes to diverse learners.  Our program is much more comprehensive, hands-on, individualized and the other program is less so. But, knowing that there are professionals who like to work and who are educated to work with students like that, we do draw students who don’t end up using our services, but definitely benefit from being in that environment anyway. 

[00:04:23] 

[Lillian]   That’s great.  So, the first question I have for you is a question I asked all of my guests, which is: what makes you a different kind of learner? 

[00:04:32] 

[Dody]    You know, a long time ago when I was first– a long time ago– first in this profession, we talked about special needs learners.  And that was just the term, we just talked about students with special needs and I think a lot of people still do today, and I hate that term.  We’re all special needs learners, right?  We all have ways that benefit the way that we learn in the best way.  So, I’m a learner that likes to learn in a very systematic fashion.  I like things to be organized.  I don’t like the fuzzy kind of assignments, I like to know what I’m up against, and I think that that probably has only increased since I’ve been working with the students that I do, because many of our students also like those very well explained, in the assignments they like to know what they’re up against and what the challenge is.  So, I think that describes my learning,  I love to dig into things that are not known and come up with ideas and at the University, we talked a lot about throwing things on a whiteboard and just dreaming and talk about what if?  Well, what if we did this?  And so, while I like the structured approach, I do like to be able to dream as well.  And I think that helps my learning a lot  

[00:05:49] 

[Lillian]    Oh, great–a very curious person.  

[Dody]    Absolutely. I think you have to be curious to work with college students or they show you how smart they are, and maybe how not quite as intelligent you are. 

[00:06:00] 

[Lillian]   Exactly. 

[Dody]   You have to be curious, you have to keep up with the, so it keeps you young. 

[00:06:04] 

[Lillian]   That’s definitely what I have found for sure.  So, when you are working at the Jones Learning Center, and you have many students that come in and participate and use your services, have you noticed a difference with students who are in classes where their instructor has incorporated Universal Design for Learning principles, versus students who are in classes that have an instructor who may not have done that?  And what does that look like for you guys? 

[00:06:33] 

[Dody]    You know, I think on the backside, on the student side of it, we can support students either way.  And that’s our job, and so we have to learn to do that one way or the other.  But the real difference I see is in the students’ anxiety and comfort level.  Professors who have incorporated some UDL practices, make students so much more independent, they don’t need our support as much.  We do– every student on the Ozarks campus is issued an iPad when they come in, and so things like open  education resources and open access things where they can go on the iPad and have it read to them, rather than having to try to draw information out of a paper book.  While we can make the paper book happen and we can get audio out of that, it’s just so much easier when they can on their own in the dorm room, push a button let the iPad read to them and they’re ready to go.  So, just incorporating simple things like that, really help our students.  Also, we really see students, I think, thrive in classrooms that offer that sense of structure.  So, when professors will use our learning management system, we use Canvas on our campus.  Canvas has a lot of features that make students more independent.  It helps them to– I hate to say work around their disability– but that’s the way it is.  If you have difficulty reading a text, Canvas can make that so much easier for you.  And, obviously, the native features of the iPad can as well.  But, any professor who will use Canvas in a way that allows students to go back and see their assignment, and read what’s expected of them, rather than just hearing it in the classroom one time as they’re walking out the door, that makes things so much easier.  So, while I don’t know that our professors are– well, I shouldn’t say that– while all of them are not purposefully using Universal Design, I think those that do, whether it’s purposeful or not, really do create a difference for students in their ability to be independent and to maybe not rely on the support as often.  Our professors who are just truly lecture-based classes, and there’s not much else besides that, that’s difficult– much more difficult for our students than those who are lecturing, but also supplementing that with some information on our learning management system so that the students can go back and read that assignment again, or catch the main points.  But, as a campus as a whole, the iPad– we call it the Compass Initiative– and that has made a huge difference for our students.  They’re able to record lectures, they’re able to go back and use some note-taking services that are downloaded on the iPad for them specifically for all students on campus, it’s not just for our students, and that’s made a really big difference in our students’ ability to just not be quite as anxious about what they might have forgotten, or what they might not have understood, it’s created some challenges along the way, too.  But, we see a lot of benefit from it. 

[00:09:52] 

[Lillian]    Wow, so having an iPad– that– for every student– wow!  That’s amazing, and that seems to me that creates a campus culture of integrating technology so that those students who need it, necessarily, are not outed, that it’s normalized, and also that it is a positive.  So, that will say to the professors, like, why would I ban technology, right, in my class?  If everybody is given it, like it’s part of who we are at the you know University of the Ozarks is everybody has this iPad, so they could record it, or they could use it in many different ways.  I bet it encourages those professors to incorporate how can I use that iPad to engage their students? 

[00:10:41] 

[Dody]   Exactly.  Yes, definitely.  I think the idea was born really to create equal access for all.  For students who were maybe economically challenged and couldn’t– didn’t have the access to information like students who were a little bit more fortunate in that area.  But, it also was very very helpful for our students who for some reason or another can use that in a classroom to be an accommodation.  And, that’s been very very helpful.  It is, it’s just who we are.  And, it really has created some ways to remove barriers to access, I think, for all students, not just students who may need it for an educational reason, but for students who need it for many reasons.  Whether it be language, or learning, or a financial concern. 

[00:11:32] 

[Lillian]    Wow, what a campus culture you have set up, that is super impressive.  And that’s a learning culture, and it’s a tech friendly culture, it’s a student friendly culture just by that one initiative so, wow! 

[00:11:47] 

[Dody]    Right.  I would love to take credit for it, it wasn’t mine.  But, we’re sure proud of it. 

[00:11:51] 

[Lillian]   But, it really, it really does like, move that needle.   It really does say: wow, this is something that’s very different about this university.  You also touched on the idea that if there’s a more traditional class that’s lecture-based and just provides the lectures, it doesn’t have other notes or maybe even more in-class engaging activities, that students struggle with that.  And, you know, lectures can be good–I’ve talked about this before on other podcasts.  They’re very good at certain times when you need to explain things, but if everything is lecture, it is– it’s hard to get everybody in the class.  There’s such a variety of learners, somebody is missing out.  But, a recent article that I read and saw on Twitter was about how students perceive– they think they’re getting a better education if they’re lecturing, because we’ve been conditioned to think that’s what college is.  And, students who did a lot of active, engaged learning, thought they weren’t learning as much; but, if you gave them an assessment, the ones that did the engaged learning actually knew more than the ones who are sitting in a lecture class.  But, if you ask them which class they learned more from, they’d say the lecture one.  But, they were right. 

[00:13:08] 

[Dody]  It’s almost like learning has to be painful and boring sometimes to get something out of it, they think that.  No, it’s not true!  The interesting thing– I’ve said this many times– freshmen are my thing.  I love working with those starry-eyed freshmen, who they–maybe they’ve been told a million times that they couldn’t do it.  You know, you’re so dyslexic, you don’t read well, you can’t do this.  Your autism makes you so anxious and so socially awkward, that you’re just never going to make it on a college campus.  And so it’s always those freshmen are just my thing and I adore the first six or eight weeks with them.  But, I think that that is a real big struggle– a really large struggle that we deal with during that first few weeks with them is that they don’t understand that there aren’t correct question– or, correct answers to every question. We’re trying to teach you to think.  One of our freshmen seminar classes, started right off there you’re reading Plato’s Republic, and it just blew some of my more straightforward thinkers out of the water, because they were like but I don’t know what the answer is.  But, it’s the quest to the answer, it’s not the answer!  So, we’re trying to teach them in those ways that it’s the ability to think and problem solve, there’s not always– you don’t have to be the person with the right answer, you have to be the person that thought through it.  And, I think that, in a Universal Design way, that’s very helpful for our students, to be able to not just sit back and listen, but to also be part of a small group conversation.  Our students with autism are not going to raise their hand in a classroom of 25 or 35 people and voice their opinion on something if they don’t know they’re right.  They might if they know they’re absolutely correct, but otherwise, they’re not going to and I don’t even think– I don’t mean to just pigeonhole, it’s not just the students on the autism spectrum, it’s all– its people who are you know, depending on their Enneagram type, they may not raise their hand.  So, we–I think it’s important to learn that different people are more comfortable in certain situations than others.  And, I think our professors who are really much more successful with those freshmen understand that, and it’s not always just a group process, but sometimes it’s a group of three, sometimes it’s on your own and give me your thoughts on some kind of v-log, or a written response.  But, it’s all of those things together, and it’s not just continually the same.  You know, let me stand up here in front of your class and teach you what you need to know. 

[00:15:28] 

[Lillian]   Yeah, absolutely I totally agree.  I teach freshmen seminar myself.  It is so fun, I love it!  And it is a lot of deconstructing what they think education is and opening up to, you know, I’m not going to be the only person talking in the class and it’s really important that to me now that the classroom is set up where they’re actually looking at each other and there’s not a top or a bottom or a front where they are the ones who are really the people talking more than I do.  And that’s really challenging for many young students to say, wait a second, I’m producing the information?  I thought I was just going to listen for a long time.   

[00:16:10] 

[Dody]  That’s right. I thought I just had 50 minutes in here to sit, and then I was going to be able to write.  Yeah, one thing we’ve done on our campus: we’ve taken some large spaces and bought some kind of modular furniture so that it can be rearranged.  We’ve taken some walls and just painted them with white board paint and so the students are able to be interactive on the wall, we actually get to write on the walls.  We have some touch screens in those classrooms so that we can actually integrate the Apple technology and with those touch screens.  So, those all have been really interesting.  They’re very new this semester, so we’re just learning how to use them correctly, or how not correctly.  But, just how to use them period.  But, I think it’s been a really fun learning environment for our students as well, to know that “hey, I can take notes and throw these– throw these ideas up on the wall, I can really throw them on the wall and see how that works.”  So, that’s been a real interesting addition this semester, and we have a couple of classrooms like that on campus now. 

[00:17:08] 

[Lillian]   Wow.  We’ve got something on our campus too, we’re looking at those active learning classrooms and how to use them, and it really does change your pedagogy.  Like if I have the same section, but I’ve got one room that’s a regular classroom with desks that don’t move, I have to actually plan differently.  Even if it’s the same material it’s a different prep phase.  It’s really transformative to have that modular seating and to have the ability for students to talk to each other and to change that dynamic.  It’s really affirming and empowering, I think, for all of us. 

[00:17:45] 

[Dody]   Right.  I think so, too, and I think for our students on the autism spectrum who really do struggle to kind of get outside of their box, it is a struggle and it’s hard for them, but it’s also a very– it’s an experience filled with learning opportunities for them because it is more of a safe place to be able to voice your opinion, and it is a great place to learn how to listen, and not just download information to another, so we– in the back end,  the Learning Center really helps students to work with those ideas, and okay, you’re in a group, I realize group work it’s not your favorite thing, but this is the way it is, so we have to figure out a way to get you through that and to really increase your skills.  We talk a lot about every behavior, every experience is just a chance to learn.  And so, whether it went well or it didn’t, let’s talk about what you learned from it, and let’s just have a conversation about that, so that when you’re not in a classroom and when you’re not in an educational institution, you can still take those skills with you.  And how do you sit around a table and listen to people who don’t think the same way you do, and maybe were raised very differently than you are or you have been.  So, that’s been a real interesting kind of side note to the way that the those rooms are designed, and to the way that our freshman seminar classes go, because we’re having to have a lot more of those conversations with our students who are on the autism spectrum.  They are more comfortable being in a room in the corner by themselves and observing sometimes, and they’re not being allowed to do that as much and so it is pushing them outside of their box a little bit.  And so we’re having to really work with that on the back end with students as well. 

[00:19:32] 

[Lillian]    I would imagine– and, I’m not a specialist like you are– but, I would imagine that if you’ve got a full lecture, and students sometimes prefer that, but you’ve got maybe 50 minutes or 75 minutes of information, that that’s a lot to process all at once.  And then one would have to later go back and somehow integrate that, but if you had those chances– and it doesn’t have to be, it doesn’t have to be group work but it could be even in a larger lecture just time to process that.  Talk to a neighbor, or process with– do a clicker question or something, you know, like have that time to take it in, then process, check it out like can you re-explain that or rewrite it or something like that.  Having those smaller ones, I can imagine that that long continuous dump of information is problematic for neurodiverse students.  But, that’s the question, I guess I’m trying to ask. 

[00:20:35] 

[Dody]   I think it makes it difficult.  I think you’re right.  You know, different students are different, right, so some of them prefer that and they enjoy that.  I think a big part or a big positive for our students is that they all have access to individual peer tutors. And so if that opportunity does not arise in a regular classroom, then they’re able to meet with that peer tutor after the class and say: okay let’s talk about what went on.  And that tutor can kind of–can lead or the student can lead.  And they just really function as study partners to really discuss information and ask questions that maybe they didn’t feel comfortable doing in the class, and really process through things.  So, the peer tutors are a very special part of what we do, very important. 

[00:21:27] 

[Lillian]   So, thinking about your student support program, the Jones Learning Center, how have you incorporated Universal Design for Learning principles in how you interact with the students?  So, you’re not teaching the students, you’re supporting the students.  So, how has the Jones Center used UDL in order to support those students? 

[00:21:48] 

[Dody]  That’s a really good question that I wish I had had, you know, two days to think about.  Yeah, we really do support students individually, and I think that that may actually– it probably doesn’t help us incorporate UDL design because we do work so individually with students.  So, we work I believe strongly in developmentally appropriate education even at the college level so we meet them where they are and those one-on-one meetings with our professional staff members that they meet daily with these people and that helps them to be able to kind of go around any barriers and to approach problems and problem-solve I think our our peer tutors and our note takers in the center are very important as well because it does allow them the opportunity to talk with a peer who was in the classroom who they may have had the class before and gain knowledge and some tips in order to make it through.  

[00:22:49] 

[Lillian]  Already, you’ve described engagement in multiple means.  So, they’re engaging in the material with somebody else.  You’ve also told me about multiple means of representation.  So, they’ve got note takers that are reproducing what was given in a lecture or in the slides in a different form.  So, it sounds like all of this is UDL.  

[00:23:07] 

[Dody]  I think, honestly, I think it’s hard for me to put a word to it because I think our entire Center is actually based on UDL practices.  So, it’s almost like what do you do every day that makes it fall into this category.  I think our whole Center is based upon that actually.  Our students have the opportunity to work in groups, they have the opportunity to work individually, they have the opportunity to just work in a– individually with a professional staff member, or with the tutor, or just in a quiet place with the door closed and the computer there. 

[00:23:35] 

[Lillian]  So, they’ve got the choice in all of those. 

[Dody]  They absolutely have the choice in all of those.  We also have incorporated a sensory friendly area into our Center this year so that if it’s just too much and you just need to get away for a little bit, we have a little room that–we call it the Blue Room– because it has quiet lights and quiet colors and a weighted blanket and comfy pillows and it’s just a place to you know chill out for a little while and bring this– bring the anxiety levels down so that the brain can reconnect and start to learn again.  Because we know that our students– when they have to be social all day long, I talked about that that switch is flipped all day long, they’re expected to be social in the social environment they just need a place to go sometimes so that’s been a really important addition to the center this year. 

[00:24:24] 

[Lillian]  Yeah, oh wow, and when you said weighted blanket my life lighted up because I love my blanket. 

[Dody]  We have– we have several of those spread out across the center.  I hate them, they make me feel like I’m suffocating, so I’m like no get the weighted blanket away from me!  But, our students love them and we’ve really seen– especially some of our freshmen who were just overwhelmed and just needed to chill and the weighted blanket helps so much.  And, I was amazed at the students who came that had never heard of a weighted blanket before, we were like what do you mean sit down let’s try this you’re going to love it!  So, they did and that’s been a real success for us I think. 

[00:25:01] 

[Lillian]    Yeah, so, you do– you’ve got all these choices for the students, and individual attention so much as far as engagement in multiple modes of representation, and lots of ways I’m sure you’re helping them find out how they know what they know, which is that multiple assessments, which is just great. 

[00:25:18] 

[Dody]  I think even just– we did, we do meet what we call mini sessions about once a month and we just get them together.  It’s just a voluntary process, all of the students can come together and we’ll, you know, I think we had apple pie last time– I didn’t get any of it, but I’m pretty sure they had apple pie last time–and we just spend about 30 minutes talking about a small issue that we can get around and one was just how do you get information out of a textbook.  Like, you know, you’ve given a textbook, what do you do with it and how do you figure out what’s important?  And so we talked about well, we can scan this and you can listen to it on Kurzweil on our campus Network.  You can help– you can figure out how the iPad can read that information to you.  So, you can request your tutor to read for you if you like to just talk and listen and then discuss the information.  So, we do that on a daily basis so much that I think we forget how much– how different that is and how much it reflects the UDL design. 

[00:26:21] 

[Lillian]  For sure, right, and we often forget you know from an instructor point of view, we are experts in our field and by now I’m an expert in figuring out art history, that’s my background.  So, I can look at a work of art and say oh I need to know the provenance, I want to know about this artist, and this and that.  But when I’m dealing with my first-year students they have no idea how to put those questions together, right?  And part of the UDL that I think is important for me to incorporate is helping those students to become expert learners by connecting the dots, right, the it’s all connected for us we’ve got that web of interconnection in our brains if we’ve been doing it and we have that experience, but we forget but these are neophyte, you know, young learners in that area, you know, nothing wrong with that, but that’s the part we have to teach is teach them how to learn in English or biology or sociology or something like that. 

[00:27:19] 

[Dody]   Absolutely.  I think that’s where we talk about developmentally appropriate education in k-12 a lot but we forget that it really does– we have to meet freshmen where they are.  They all come to us with a varied background and you hear a lot well high schools just don’t prepare students for college.  Well, I just don’t believe that.  High schools do a pretty good job I think overall of preparing students for college.  But we’re taking students from Venus and putting them on Mars and expect them– expecting them to just adapt without any kind of instruction and how to do that.  So, a big part of what we do is just teach learners how to learn in a college atmosphere, and to learn in an independent fashion because you’re not with that teacher every day.  You don’t have the hour to work on whatever it is in that classroom every day with someone standing beside you if you get stuck.  And so it’s learning how do I ask for support, how do I ask for help, who do I go ask a question to?  And I think that that’s not an issue that just happens with students who are in our center, but for those who are on the campus period.  

[00:28:29] 

[Lillian]  Yeah, it sounds like at the University of the Ozarks there you’ve got it right.  It is a campus, it is a university, an institution that wants to create expert learners.  It’s not a place where you have to prove yourself or you get out, right?  It’s not trying to weed out you have to learn it this way or the highway, you’re there to actually help the student to do what they can do, and do– and be their best. 

[00:29:02] 

[Dody]  Absolutely, and I think that if you’re not on that train you probably do need to go somewhere else as a faculty member and as a staff member because we are all absolutely there for the students to help them learn to think and hopefully support us and change this world in a way that would be for the better, for sure.  I think one thing that people don’t understand particularly for those students who have some type of learning challenges that they’re so capable of transforming the world.  We just have to help them get it from their brain out.  And that’s not easy for them sometimes.  But the ideas, and their creativity, and the understanding is absolutely there.  

[00:29:42] 

[Lillian]   Yeah.  So, if you– that was incredible advice for your students, you know, the encouragement that they can do it that to not be hindered by that, do you have advice for let’s say new faculty coming in?  What should they know about– they’re about to teach at the University of the Ozarks, what is your advice to them as they start thinking about their first class that they’re going to teach, what do you think they need to know? 

[00:30:09] 

[Dody]   Great question. 

[Lillian]  Or, one of one of the things because there’s many.  So, one of the things you think is important for them to know.  

[00:30:16] 

[Dody]  You know, I think in understanding students with some kind of diagnosed disability, it’s really important to know that they may not make a great first impression.  They may not appear to be a student who is engaged.  They may not be the one that is really taking over or leading the discussion.  And, be patient with them and learn ways to draw them out.  Because I promise you they have much more to contribute than you’re going to get in that first week or two.  Take them to the coffee shop and have coffee with them.  You know, we have a large fountain in the middle of campus, go sit by the fountain and talk to them and draw them out and know that there’s way more there than you’re going to see in that first week or two.  And the second thing I think I would say is in that conversation ask them what helps.  How do you learn best?  What kind of teaching style can I incorporate in my classroom that will help you?  I think a lot of our students, they know that, but how often do they get a chance to really form that discussion with a professor, they don’t.  You sit down, you get a syllabus handed to you, and that’s what you’re going to do is what’s on the syllabus.  So, I think that that’s a real opportunity for growth for a young professor is sit down and talk to your students and figure out how they learn the best.  They’re not all going to learn the same way, right?  And so you can’t make everyone happy, but you can certainly learn from the information that they can tell you about how they learn.  They often do know what works best for them, they just don’t ever get a chance to tell anyone. 

[00:31:51] 

[Lillian]  Yeah that is a lot of humility that one needs to bring into the classroom as they teach, and it’s so beneficial, right, to think I can learn from these students.  They have something to teach me.   

[00:32:04] 

[Dody]  Yes I had a student–a professor new to our campus not new to teaching, but new to our campus, come to my office at the very first week of school.  And all of our students we help them to self-identify and then to know what to say to professors.  And so we have been through that and they have a little sheet that’s written out that they take to the professor and leave with the professor.  And part of this student’s challenge is group work.  Group work makes him very anxious.  He’s either going to take over or he’s going to totally disconnect, and finding that middle ground for him has been hard.  So, that part of that is laid out in his what we call a profile sheet.  And the professor came over and said we do group work all day every day in my class, I want to make this work, what can I do for this student to make that work?  So, we talked about ways to make sure he knew his role, and to maybe put some guardrails up for him.  But it was so refreshing and the one thing I said to him was ask him.  Ask him how you can make it easier for him.  And he did that, and the student came back over the next day and said my professor is so awesome, he asked me what he could do, he really cares!  And it just created a connection with that professor right off the bat and I can guarantee you that this particular student will do anything that professor asks of him now because he started it early, with how can I help you before you have a problem?  Let’s try to set this up and figure out how we can overcome some of the challenges that you may encounter in my classroom.  And he didn’t have to change the way he taught.  He didn’t have to change what was planned.  But he just reached out to that student individually, and that made a huge difference in that student’s perspective on the class and on the professor. 

[00:33:45] 

[Lillian]  Oh, what a great–what a great anecdote.  That tells us how important that is, that relationship and that humility that makes it better for everybody.  So, fantastic.  Well, thank you so much Dody, it has been such a pleasure talking to you today 

[00:34:00] 

[Dody]   It’s a great honor.  Thank you so much for inviting me, I appreciate it.  Best of luck to you. 

[Lillian]  Oh, thank you, and you too. Have a wonderful conference with the college STAR student support network retreat. 

[00:34:11] 

[Dody]   Yes, thank you. 

[Lillian]   Thanks.  

[Music]  

[00:34:25] 

[Lillian]   You can follow the Think UDL podcast on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to find out when new episodes will be released, and also see transcripts and additional materials at the ThinkUDL.org website.  The Think UDL podcast is made possible by College STAR, the STAR stands for supporting transition, access and retention in post-secondary settings, and the website provides free resources and instructional aids based on UDL principles.  If you’d like to know more, go to the CollegeSTAR.org website.  Additional support for the podcast is made possible by Appalachian State University, where, if you call it Appalachian, I’ll throw an apple at you!  The music on the podcast was performed by the Odyssey Quartet, comprised of Rex Shepherd, David Pate, Bill Folwell, and Jose Cochez.  Our sound engineer is Tanner Jones, and I am your host, Lillian Nave, thank you for joining us on the Think UDL podcast.  

[Music]