Welcome to ISP Teaching at LTCC!
Hello and welcome to the Incarcerated Student Program (ISP) Track at Lake Tahoe Community College. The ISP program has grown from a few classes to course offerings in disciplines that include Counseling, English, Psychology, Political Science, Sociology, and others. Teaching in the ISP can be very rewarding for faculty members, especially as they are involved in the noble work of improving lives and making possible the desire of ISP students to rejoin society as productive and functioning members and citizens. At the same time, there are challenges to teaching in the program. This particular track will discuss these many areas of the Incarcerated Student Program. Please be sure to check out the videos below. The outstanding staff of the ISP office has taken time to explain the ins and outs of the program and offer many tips to faculty so that their teaching experience might be more rewarding. The ISP includes a Steering Committee made up of faculty. In the future, we will be holding teaching workshops for faculty who wish to improve their craft of teaching our incarcerated students.
Hi and welcome to the ISP Track at LTCC! Please have a listen to my personal welcome to the ISP track. We are excited to have you onboard as an ISP instructor at LTCC!
The Incarcerated Students Program (ISP) was first approved as a pilot program by LTCC’s Board of Trustees in 2015. In spring of 2017, LTCC’s Substantive Change Proposal received approval from the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC), making it an official program. The ISP was introduced to serve inmates of California's correctional facilities and promote their educational success. Higher education provides inmates with a pathway to a more productive future and a greater likelihood of post-release employment. Incarcerated students can earn their Associate’s Degree for Transfer (AA-T) in Sociology through an Enhanced One-On-One pedagogical approach. The program first started serving the Folsom State Prison locations (both men’s and women’s facilities) and soon expanded to serve California State Prison Sacramento (CSP-SAC) and High Desert State Prison in Susanville, CA. Three years later, the program’s reach has grown to serve seven different facilities including the local Juvenile Treatment Center in South Lake Tahoe and two working camps, spanning over nearly 300 miles. In the Fall 2018 quarter, the ISP served 368 students amounting to 745 enrollments.
To provide structured, positive support in the pursuit of higher education for the incarcerated population.
To deliver socially transformative, higher education programs for incarcerated students. Through an Enhanced One-On-One pedagogical approach, LTCC’s ISP coursework supports the degree completion goals of incarcerated students and thus positively contributes to both individual and community possibilities.
Here are some useful tips from previous ISP faculty:
• Grade as much as you can as soon as you can. Packets build up, especially at the quarter's end.
• Be lenient and understanding with your late work policy. The prison's proctor, date-stamped collect packets, then transported to LTCC and instructors. Some students miss this pick up for many reasons, not all of which are their fault so that you may receive packets past their due date.
• Students may ask where to get books, dictionaries, paper, and other supplies. The ISP Coordinator and on-site proctor will provide all course material to students. If students require any extra material, he or she has the means to get it for him/herself. However, please pass the request along to the staff, as they may not have received the same message.
• Except for our non-college, basic skill courses, these are accredited courses, equivalent to taking any UC college course, so you should grade as such. Most students are working towards their Associates Degree, Bachelors, and beyond.
• Keep a notebook with detailed notes about student work for each module. Sometimes questions come up the next quarter, and you'll have a reference.
• I choose to grade packets in the same order (alphabetically, thickest to thinnest, best to worst, etc.) because it created a specific order by which I could remember their work. As in any classroom, you will find that some students are diligent and thorough while others do the bare minimum.
• Familiarize yourself briefly with accompanying support classes (for example ENG 191, grammar course for ENG 152) to save yourself time overly explaining points that they should already be learning in their support class.
• Make positive comments like in English classes, "good sentence!" "nice!" "well written" or add more specific details like, "thank you for writing a well-constructed conclusion." This promotes improvement.
• I never ask students to redo work (except for portfolio/final essays) because there is not enough time with this correspondence system.
• Take notes on questions, concerns, good habits and bad, and things done well or that should be worked on. Then write one master cover letter to the entire class (to be emailed to the ISP Coordinator, who will print and include in each packet for you). I also write individual cover letters because it’s personal and some students have questions that the whole class doesn’t need to hear. This takes time, but I find it to be incredibly connecting and rewarding.
• Be careful of students working ahead (hard to regulate); if they complete Module 4 before they receive comments back from Module 1, they are not likely learning or correcting their mistakes.
• It is essential to treat and grade ISP students just as you would any other student. However, remember to be gentle. Unlike in face-to-face classes, there is little opportunity to explain your comments once packets are sent back. In my first quarter of teaching, I learned the hard way about how responsive students are. I made the mistake of getting frustrated with one brilliant student, who I thought was taking an assignment too lightly. I wrote concerning comments about how this paper had no reference material, how it was not serious enough. But I misunderstood. This student was one of my most talented writers. Because of the other work I'd seen, I could take a more aggressive tone...but teachers do not get second chances with ISP students. After that paper, this student stopped turning in assignments and dropped out. I will forever regret that this very talented writer, whom I thought was tough as stones, was dissuaded by my criticism.
• These students are taking a massive leap into their futures and you, my dear instructor, are their small light of encouragement. If you blink and make that light flutter, they may turn away and lose their chance forever. As an ISP instructor, your patience is crucial. Teach them, be firm, but be gentle also. You will confidentially read fantastic stories, poetry, and essays (which may or may not all be exact), but I guarantee that any assignment done is done in earnest. So be kind to your students, be clear with them, because it is your wonderful and profound job to guide their efforts into uncharted future success.