As a generation of high schoolers gets ready to head off to college, how can we learn from what they’ve been through to teach them to better handle where they are going?
Dr. Tiffany Hunter, the President of Paradise Valley Community College and Associate President of Educational Outreach at Arizona State University, Dr. Quintin Boyce, sit down with In the Room hosts Lloyd Hopkins and Stephanie Parra to chat about the challenges brought by the last three years and the best way to ensure teens are successful when they head off to college.
Boyce and Hunter talk about overcoming the isolation of the COVID-19 pandemic, breaking through stereotypes, and why listening might be the best key in teaching.
Dr. Tiffany Hunter
President – Paradise Valley Community College
Dr. Quintin Boyce
Associate VP, Educational Outreach –
Arizona State University
A Sense of Belonging
It is so important right now that students feel seen and heard, and that they belong. For me, it’s about the engagement. As soon as the students enter our campus I want them to feel welcome and that that’s where they belong and where they’re going to be supported. I do that by being engaged with students. My team fusses because I want to be where the students are. I want to hear their voice. Students need a voice and they need to know that we are going to hear them and we are going to respond.
I include them in conversations that require them to give us their opinions. Sometimes they don’t know how to accept that because nobody’s asked them [for] their opinion. As leaders, we are very quick to tell you what we think students want and need, but we’ve not asked them. For me, I need to hear from the students and then we make decisions based on what I know they need from us.
You need to show up in an intentional way. You need to be present. Representation matters more now than ever in your authentic presentation. Make sure that you show up ready to receive what is coming to you as a leader. But, more importantly, show up and be actively engaged in the conversation.
Because when you show up and you’ve already got an answer in your head, [you] don’t actively listen. When you don’t actively listen, you don’t know how to respond appropriately. For leaders now, we’ve got to make sure that we are there – 100% present. Be your authentic self when you show up. Now with that comes empathy, comes respect, comes that place where you need to enforce and help with self-esteem; showing up in a way that they want to model what they see in you.
I’ve been in education for 20 years. I was in K-12 for 20 years prior to moving to ASU. I was moved by the work. I was moved by working with students and creating opportunity. When I think about working with young people, at the end of the day, it’s about creating authentic and genuine space for perspective. I didn’t have that as a kid. I had to do what I was told to do, and that was the end of the story. Today, that just does not work.
It’s important to create authentic space to empower students with their voice and, most importantly, listen. Especially when they have a divergent perspective that may not align with what you want them to do.
The crazy thing is that when you do that and you get out of the way, they are beautifully brilliant. They do things that we couldn’t possibly come up with. It’s all about being really authentic and not just saying that we’re going to create space, but doing it and listening and then supporting them.
Get Out of the Way
One mistake that I made, even as an early educator, is you think you know what it means to be a teen. Because at one point, even as old as I am, I was a teen, [but] it’s different. To be a teen in 2023 is unlike anything I experienced. Social media did not exist. I didn’t live through a global pandemic as a teen. My education wasn’t disrupted when I was a teen.
When I think about helping to cultivate and prepare students for life after middle school, high school, et cetera, it’s about creating exposure opportunities. It’s about equipping students with skills and resources to be brilliant and amazing. It’s about getting out of the way. It’s critically important to get out of the way and don’t act as if we know what it means and feels like to be a student today, because we were a kid at one point in our lives.