We are inspired by our Hawkes instructors and are eager to showcase their talent and compassion for their students. Today, we are excited to share our interview with Professor Cindy Bond of Butler Community College. Professor Bond has been teaching for over 25 years, and her compassion towards her students is evident! Customer Support Specialist Victoria Kelly spoke with Hawkes Learning Certified Instructor, Professor Bond to learn about her classroom structure, her experience with Hawkes, and her overall journey as a teacher.
*This interview has been lightly edited for content and clarity.
What courses do you teach with Hawkes?
I teach Fundamentals of Algebra, Intermediate Algebra, and College Algebra.
What would you say your secret to teaching is?
I would say patience and listening to students’ questions. I always want the students to feel that there is no such thing as a dumb question, and that I welcome their questions.
What would you say is the most valuable lesson you’ve learned during your teaching career?
Maybe realizing that although I have a subject and information to convey, my students are people with real lives, and they have a lot going on! My school has many non-traditional college students, so they have a variety of responsibilities such as jobs and families to take care of in addition to their schoolwork. While I still like to set high expectations in my classroom, I try to be aware that they have a lot on their plates and show compassion towards my students.
Regarding your classroom structure, what styles and setups have you tried? What would you say has worked best and maybe not so well?
I have used Hawkes Learning for a very long time in different ways. I usually tend to stick with a lecture format. I’ll start out with lecture, review questions from the book, and then go into Hawkes to review the Practice area so that they’re familiar with the process of inputting their answers. I usually only give hands-on computer time in the classroom if there is enough extra time. There are pros and cons to hand- on computer time. I think it’s more important for the students to review questions and examples with me before I let them use the computers in class.
What would you say is the biggest challenge students are facing today?
During the pandemic, everyone has struggled with fear of the unknown. We haven’t been sure what our fall enrollment will be like. We have some students who are more comfortable with online learning than others. The sudden shift to online learning has been challenging for everyone. Outside of the pandemic, students struggle with time management. I think in history, we’ve had periods of time where the students were simply college students and didn’t have as many other responsibilities to focus on and juggle.
What would you say is the biggest challenge facing instructors?
I think instructors have been exhausted during the pandemic. Once we transitioned online in the spring, I personally made about 40 videos to post online for instruction. I also had separate virtual office hours for questions. Staring at the computer that long was very challenging!
How do you engage and motivate students who are underperforming?
As a department, we made many policies where students must complete all their Hawkes Certifications before opening their exam. That has really helped! Outside of that, I usually reach out to individuals who are underperforming personally. Some of my students have thanked me for that personal interaction. Prior to a test, I’ll text a student who is behind to remind them about their upcoming exam.
Would you say you have a unique style in the classroom?
I wouldn’t say I have a unique style, but students have commented that they appreciate my teaching approach. I’d say the biggest difference in my approach is that I try to go very slowly through the steps of an example, and students really appreciate this attention to detail. I also try to pause frequently to make sure there aren’t any questions. I don’t think it’s anything revolutionary; however, my students have complimented this approach!
Do you have a favorite breakthrough moment that you’ve experienced with a student?
I always love to see when a student has a “lightbulb” moment! This happens occasionally, while I have other students who are dedicated to passing the class and invest a great deal of their free time in my office hours. Another situation that comes to mind is when I had a student who had some major health problems. She was even in the hospital at one point. When I went to visit her at the hospital, she was sitting in her hospital bed doing Chemistry homework. It really showed me that some students have dedication and determination to make it happen, no matter what! Having grit really makes a big difference in the student’s success.
How would you say your thoughts about technology in the classroom evolved over time?
Whenever I first started teaching, technology wasn’t much of an option. A few years ago, I was pretty skeptical since I couldn’t imagine giving a test online. For a while, I did try a few different online platforms for the homework. My students would share that they felt a disconnection between the homework online and the paper-pencil test. After a little while, I went back to my original methods of teaching. Over the years, there were more online programs and the existing programs became better too. When I was introduced to Hawkes, I fell in love with the mastery concept! Other platforms think they have a mastery concept, but it’s not the same. I think the mastery approach makes a world of difference. Students are not happy with making a zero. Since Hawkes rewards students with a full 100% upon reaching the mastery level, they were motivated. Our department began to administer our tests online through Hawkes. When I had initially thought about online tests, I didn’t consider how I can still encourage the student to work out their problems on scratch paper and turn it in for partial credit opportunities. Now we require students to work out their problems on paper and show each step in achieving their solutions. I have tried to explain that “back in the day” teachers would assign certain problems in the textbook for students to go home and work. Students would then hope they were on the right track then wait a day or two for their assignments to be graded and possibly find out that they were on the wrong track for the multiple problems they worked for homework. At that point, the students often had the wrong method of solving their problems embedded in their minds. Now that students use Hawkes, they are receiving immediate feedback in their homework. It’s a new paradigm shift, but it’s a good one! Hawkes tailors the learning experience to each student’s needs in a way paper and pencil assignments do not.
What has led you back to using Hawkes each year?
One major thing is Tech Support! That is huge. I’d also say mastery learning. For a while, I was teaching with a few different platforms, and you could see the difference in tech support across each of them. You guys answer the phone immediately, and it doesn’t go to voicemail. With other companies, I’ve been on hold for 45 minutes and still never really got an answer.
What part of the Hawkes platform is making the biggest difference for your students?
We didn’t always require Practice as a department, and now we do. Investing in Practice really helps the student in the Certify portion of the homework. If a student is familiar with the concepts, but not as much the input, Practice gives them the opportunity to try it out before moving to the graded component, Certify. I love the fact that it’s tailored to each student in a way that isn’t possible with traditional paper-pencil assignments.
What would you say is your favorite thing about teaching?
I would say the student interaction. I don’t have as much personal interaction with them these days. In previous schedules, I had more opportunities to interact with the students between classes. Frequently, at the beginning of the semester, as I stand in the front of the classroom, I have a special feeling where I know this is where I’m meant to be and what I’m supposed to do.
What are some of your proudest professional accomplishments?
I was on our redesign committee. We had used Hawkes before, so that piece didn’t change, but we redesigned our whole math offerings from 16-week 3 credit hour courses to 1 credit hour modules that are 5 weeks. It took several years for it to happen, and I was one of the leads on that project. I would say this is a major accomplishment I’m proud of! There was a lot of work and meetings invested into this project, and it’s really made a difference.
Overall, what do you hope your students to take away from their learning experience?
The importance of both sides of the equation. What I mean by this is that both sides of the learning experience are important. The instructor has to do their job by teaching and guiding the student, while the student must invest time and attention as they study the materials. Learning takes time, effort and grit on both sides of the learning experience!
What would you say are the most important attributes of an instructor, and what do you think students are looking for in their instructor?
An instructor needs to have knowledge of the concept, and that’s a given. Instructors who truly care are typically better teachers. When an instructor doesn’t just consider teaching a job, but rather shows care and interest in the student, it really makes a difference.
What is your educational background?
I went to MidAmerica Nazarene University in Olathe, Kansas-it’s a small church college. I loved my experience there! I got my degree at Wichita State University after that.
What is one thing your students don’t know about you?
I don’t really talk about this in my classroom, but I am a strong Christian. I believe in the power of prayer and that we have an awesome God to serve.
What are some recent professional development opportunities you’ve invested in? Do you have any favorite conferences you like to attend or any favorite speakers/blogs you like to follow?
I’ve been to a few NADE conferences and have enjoyed those. I have been to a few Hawkes conferences too! I have spoken at a few conferences regarding the results of our redesign. I enjoy going to conferences to learn more about what other instructors and schools are doing.
What are some of your interests outside of the classroom?
I love to do things with my family! I enjoy reading and am involved in my church. My husband and I enjoy having friends over to play cards and board games. We have a 9-pound mini-poodle named Baxter.
What is your favorite thing about your campus?
I would say we’re pretty innovative! Many local community colleges are looking to our school to see what we’re doing in light of the pandemic. I also think our department is really fun to work with!