Faculty Focus for Student Success: Deanna Criddle

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When COVID-19 hit classrooms across America, faculty had to pivot to a whole new world. There would be no more in-person, hands-on, face-to-face learning. Regardless of the content they were teaching, they had to adjust and relearn how to teach. The best of them embraced the challenge, enjoyed being in their students’ shoes, and conquered the learning curve with ease—including our own Deanna Criddle.

Student Success Strategies at Charter College

Deanna has taught Student Success Strategies from the Charter College Pasco campus for five years. And one of her favorite parts of teaching is the interaction she had with her students each day. That all changed with the pandemic. How do you provide what she considers critical one-on-one time when you’re not together in a classroom with your students? How do you make a connection that will keep them motivated throughout their programs?

“The first question was, ‘how do I make sure my students still get what they need?’” says Deanna. “The first changes had to be to curriculum. The subject matter sets the stage for everything else.”

Curriculum Change for COVID-19

Lucky for her students—and everyone else at Charter College—Deanna has a Master of Education degree and a background in Instructional Design. She dropped all the projects she was working on, rolled up her sleeves, and started working on curriculum tweaks that could give the faculty at Charter College the tools they needed to help their students.

“We have a rule in my house,” explains Deanna, “You can’t complain about something unless you’ve tried to change it. And if you run into a problem, you deal with it. I have a can-do attitude. Actually, it’s more like a ‘will-do’ attitude. It’s gonna happen.”

So Deanna set out to make it happen. She says some of it was straight forward. She could use Teams and videos. She could use scaffolding for notes so students could start with an outline, rather than building their notes from scratch. But how to pivot the hands-on lessons to online was more challenging; one she took on with that will-do approach.

Checking In On Student Well-Being

Using the learning platform, Deanna was able to assess how students were doing, but grades don’t tell the full story. She started adding opportunities for students to share how they were feeling in the form of emojis. A thumbs-up or down, a happy face, a concerned or anxious emoji—all let her check-in with students in a one-on-one way that was easy and fun.

“Just because someone expresses that anxiousness, though, doesn’t mean I’m immediately sending a message back,” says Deanna. “It depends what’s going on. If they share something and it ends on a positive note, it means they’ve processed it. But I do keep it in the back of my mind if something else comes up.”

Deanna knows that success in the classroom—virtual or face-to-face—often has little to do with a student’s ability or drive. It’s all the other stuff that gets in the way. That’s why she teaches the Student Success Strategies course in the first place. The class teaches good habits for personal and academic success. It teaches students how to become more responsible, build relationships, collaborate well with others, and communicate effectively. It also speaks to self-care. Because if you don’t take care of yourself, you can’t be your best self.

If you want to build a career or advance the one you’re in, an education can be a critical component to future success. But going back to school can be challenging—especially in times like these. That’s why you’ll want to learn from passionate educators who care about your academic and personal growth. Charter College has some great instructors that lead our career training programs. Deanna Criddle is just one!