Be thoughtful about homework and communicate your goals to your students. If you think they need to practice what you’ve taught, consider the minimum amount of practice they really need to show mastery and don’t exceed that. Provide resource students can reference at home while they do your homework to help those who might not have fully grasped your lesson during class so that they can complete your assignment successfully.
As a part of my interview series about “5 Things You Need To Know To Be A Highly Effective Educator”, I had the pleasure to interview Elizabeth Hamblet.
Elizabeth C. Hamblet has been a learning disabilities specialist at the college level for two decades. In addition to working at a university, she is a nationally-requested speaker who educates professionals, parents, and students about how to prepare students with disabilities for success at college. Hamblet is the author of From High School to College: Steps to Success for Students With Disabilities, and her work has appeared in numerous journals and online platforms, including Understood.org, where she serves as a college transition expert.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share the “backstory”behind what brought you to this particular career path?
It was a pretty crooked path. In the mid 1990’s, I became a special education teacher, but my job at a high school was only part-time, so I also started working at a college’s disability services office at the same time. In working there, I realized my training hadn’t discussed how the laws change as students move from the K-12 system to college, and how the accommodations and supports often change, too. When I moved to another state and started in a different college-level position, I was seeing students request from that disability services office things that were either not required or considered appropriate at the college level. These students likely didn’t know why these requests were probably going to be turned down because their teachers’ training, like mine, hadn’t included any information about college services and accommodations — so how could those teachers have prepared their students for those changes? Educating people about this topic became a real mission for me because I wanted students to have the information and preparation they needed. I began making presentations and writing about how to prepare students with disabilities for successful college transition. I also took a job at a third university, where I am involved in that accommodation decision process, but I also get to work one-on-one with students, which I love, and which also helps to inform some of my other work.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your teaching career? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
I can’t think of any one story, but what I have learned over many years is that teachers can have such an influence over students’ experiences on so many levels. First — relationships are important. Students need to feel like teachers respect them and have an interest in them. There are numerous stories from students (with and without disabilities) about how one teacher changed the trajectory of their lives in a positive way by believing in them, showing interest in them, etc. Second, I think it’s important to remember that no matter how they present to you, students still want to succeed. They may be battling doubts about themselves and can be very receptive to an offer of help.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
I continue to try to find ways to reach a wide audience of parents and professionals because everyone involved in the college transition process for students with disabilities can be helpful. I post regularly on social media, serve as a guest on podcasts, and write new posts for my website and blog as interesting topics arise. I am also gathering ideas for a third edition of my book that I plan to write. My newest venture is running a Facebook group for parents that I inherited from its founders. It’s focused on college transition and accommodations. I post helpful information and answer parent questions.
Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the main focus of our interview. From your point of view, how would you rate the results of the US education system? Can you identify 5 areas of the US education system that are going really great? Can you identify the 5 key areas of the US education system that should be prioritized for improvement? Can you explain why those are so critical?
I apologize — I don’t feel qualified to weigh in on these very important questions. I try to make sure I only opine on subjects of which I have a good knowledge base.
Not a problem at all. Here is the main question of our interview. Can you please share your “5 Things You Need To Know To Be A Highly Effective Educator?” Please share a story or example for each.
- Creating goals for what you want students to learn can shape your instruction in ways that benefit your students. Think about what you need to teach them so that they leave with the knowledge you want them to have after teach lesson and allow that to drive your in-class lectures and activities. Share your goals for each lesson so that students see what they’re supposed to take away from it. Years ago, someone advised me to “Tell them what you’re going to teach them, teach, and then tell them what you taught them.” It’s oversimplified, for sure, but the idea of previewing, teaching, and reviewing can help students get a sense of what they should learn and may prompt questions about what they missed or didn’t understand.
- It’s important to give students direct instruction in the tasks they’ll have to perform independently and model the steps. Don’t assume they know how to write a research paper or prepare for an exam. Give them stages to follow and go through them as a class so that they have a chance to ask questions or even offer their own strategies, which could benefit their classmates.
- Using strategies that benefit students with disabilities can benefit all of your students. Provide written instructions and information and also review these verbally. Even if students don’t have a disability, there may be some who still have a weakness in one modality so communicating in both ways can be helpful.
- Be thoughtful about homework and communicate your goals to your students. If you think they need to practice what you’ve taught, consider the minimum amount of practice they really need to show mastery and don’t exceed that. Provide resource students can reference at home while they do your homework to help those who might not have fully grasped your lesson during class so that they can complete your assignment successfully.
- Testing students’ comprehension and retention of your lessons without grading those assessments is an effective way to gauge the success of your lesson and for them to assess what they’ve learned. Ask them to complete a few questions at the end of class and use their responses to give yourself a sense of what you need to review or explain differently the next day.
As you know, teachers play such a huge role in shaping young lives. What would you suggest needs to be done to attract top talent to the education field?
I think we need to cultivate a sense of appreciation for what teachers do, provide schools with more resources, and raise teacher salaries. The amount of responsibility teachers have is enormous, and their effect on our society is huge. In many places, they need a graduate degree to teach, and they need to keep up with research on best educational practices, yet they make so much less than others in fields that don’t have such an influence on the lives of young people or carry such implications for our society. I would love to see the media really cover how much teachers do, how they keep up their training, and how much they spend out of their own pockets just to provide the basics for their students.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“For of those to whom much is given, much is required” — John F. Kennedy
I have been privileged in many facets and times of my life. I recognize the advantages from which I’ve benefitted and try to do what I can to help others who have not had the same opportunities.
We are blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂
Daniel Willingham, the cognitive scientist
How can our readers follow you on social media?
Twitter — @echamblet
Facebook — https://www.facebook.com/LDadvisory/
Instagram — https://www.instagram.com/ld_advisory/
Thank you so much for these insights! This was so inspiring!