Instructor Spotlight: Meet Professor Emily Carpenter

Emily Carpenter is a 6-year Hawkes Learning customer and a 20-year educator with beginnings in Early Childhood Special Education. Now in her seventh year at Seminole State College, depending on the semester, you can find her teaching General Education math using Hawkes’ co-requisite Beginning Statistics, Viewing Life Mathematically, College Algebra, or Precalculus course materials. Our Customer Experience Coordinator Victoria Kelly was excited to get the chance to interview Emily and learn more about where her passion for education began and what she has learned along the way.

*Interview responses have been lightly edited for content and clarity.

How long have you been teaching in general and how long have you been teaching with Hawkes materials?

This is my twentieth year in education which is kind of crazy! I came on board at Seminole State about 7 years ago from K-12 where I taught a little bit of everything other than Middle School.

When I came on board here at Seminole State we were using a pre-requisite model with Pearson’s MyMathLab, but within the first year we moved to four pathways all using Hawkes and all co-requisite models– so it’s been five to six years.

Having taught in different classroom structures, what class models have you tried and found work the best for you?

Starting in Early Childhood Special Education with my very first job out of college there was a big push for a full-inclusion mode. Ironically, fast forwarding to Higher Ed, when we started talking about the co-requisite model, I was like I get this, I understand how this works; so I would say probably the flipped classroom approach because it’s very student-centered.

My job teaching co-requisites now is similar–I come in and help fill those knowledge gaps. The integrated review aspect of the co-requisite model is a big piece of that for us. We often work with adult learners, so we approach math as a set of skills and let them know that there’s no shame in saying “I can’t do that right now, but I can learn.” The flipped classroom approach gives students the freedom to identify their weaknesses and approach them from a growth mindset perspective; the integrated reviews help a lot because we can individualize instruction which really works well with my teaching philosophy in general.

What would you say is the biggest challenge today’s students are facing?

Particularly in math, we’re seeing huge deficits, so this semester we’re requiring some of those integrated reviews even for our students in credit-bearing courses. Many of these traditional students are also rolling out of tough algebra one and algebra two experiences in the heart of COVID so for topics that used to be pre-requisite skills we’re finding a complete lack of memory.

How do you engage and motivate these underperforming students?

It depends if it’s face-to-face versus online, but a common would be just communication and connection for students with myself and others in the classroom; that would probably be the biggest motivation because that’s going to be what keeps them coming back to class. We’re also doing more cooperative-based learning like the new Viewing Life Mathematically projects per section which have been amazing to have as just a little something for them to connect with each other.

Creating that connection in an online course is more challenging, but we have discussion posts and some group projects where they have to get on Zoom and work with each other. For my online co-reqs, I have a weekly check-in to make contact with every student in some way shape or form. It’s hard to mimic the connection of face-to-face in an online class but we’re doing the best we can.

Would you say you have had a favorite breakthrough moment with a student?

Yes, one of my very first students here. She was a non-traditional student, actually a little bit older than me, and with the track she was on I wound up teaching her in one course or another every semester she was here, so I really got to walk with her on this whole journey; by the time she was in statistics, she could have been teaching the class. In fact, I think next year she is taking a middle school math position at a local school!

This shaped me a lot from a compassion standpoint as well as a philosophical standpoint of what I needed to do in the classroom outside of teaching to help them understand that they are worthy of being here. I think that was probably my first understanding that at the community college level, math is the biggest hurdle that we see for students to persist.

Have your students said anything about the Mastery approach and Hawkes support?

They appreciate it eventually. We try to be very explicit about explaining what it is and why it’s there, so I would say that they do really start appreciating and understanding the benefits of it about mid-term. We get a lot of feedback like “this is the best math class I’ve ever had” and I don’t think it has anything to do with the instruction, I think it has more to do with the support like automatic feedback, integrated reviews, and the tutoring button. They really like the practice tests; a lot of them will say that they don’t know how to study for a math test but the practice tests really help them identify where their strengths and weaknesses are and then focus on them. So I would say they enjoy Hawkes and they eventually enjoy the mastery approach once they get a good grade!

Check out this short student tutorial of Hawkes’ Practice Test feature!

How has Hawkes’ training and support affected you as an instructor?

I have quite a bit of experience with curriculum companies in K-12 all the way up and Hawkes’ customer support is literally the best I’ve ever worked with. If you’re thinking about the amount and time and effort we’re having to spend with students, this needs to be the easy part! I appreciate it now that I’m on the Administrative side even more, onboarding instructors is so much easier than any other publisher– it’s all so seamless. I also appreciate Hawkes’ professional development like the webinars and workshops they provide for instructors, it always seems so timely.

What is something your students don’t know about you? 

I was homeschooled actually through 6th grade and so and then went to a big diverse high school, so my first day of teaching Elementary Education was actually my first day of being in a grade school setting! I know in some states there have some pretty large homeschool co-ops but that’s pretty unique in Oklahoma.

What would you say you’re most favorite thing is about your college campus?

I love that we are small. Sometimes it can be frustrating because we wear a lot of hats but it’s been easier to come in and find a place, I mean in seven years I’ve had the opportunity to have several leadership positions that at bigger institutions I wouldn’t have, so I do appreciate that.

“Building relationships and supporting students is probably my most favorite thing about being at a community college because it feels worthwhile, and it goes beyond just the classroom”

It’s also a cool job where sometimes you get to help students deal with some life things and with little kids it was helping them build social skills and those conversations are still there but now they’re big conversations and you feel like it’s so worthwhile to be able to be able to have those conversations and have that relationship with students.

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