Insights in STEM: Community College Administrator & Instructor Don Brady

STS Editorial Board Member Susan Woods chatted with Don Brady, former Administrator of STEM programs at a public community college, as well as current Adjunct Faculty in Mathematics (calculus) at a private college in Massachusetts. Insight from his experience both as an administrator and teacher supporting autistic students at the college level inform his tips for administrators and students.

For Administrators

How can I help faculty support students on the autism spectrum in STEM courses?

Provide opportunities for faculty to gain knowledge and awareness of accommodations and support services offered through Disability Services.

Educate faculty to dispel notions that accommodations provide an unfair advantage.

Share information with faculty about the accommodations process, including documentation review and how accommodations are developed and delivered.

Promote transparency of process and encouragement of “partnership” among faculty, student, and Disability Services Office.

Foster faculty guidance of students in how to access services and to request accommodations.

Support faculty with strategies to redirect if topics become tangential, off topic, or too lengthy in the classroom.

For Students

 How can I prepare for a successful college transition?
What knowledge or skills are important to have?

Work on self-awareness, self-confidence, and metacognition (learning how you learn, knowing what you know).

Practice communication (for email exchanges, classroom discussions and questions, and office hours, for example) to insure that you are able to have your questions addressed and that you are able to self-advocate. Aim to be succinct and specific.

Practice strategies for working effectively as part of a group.

Work toward the goal of greater “self-accommodation,” with the long-term goal of transferring your skills and knowledge to the expectations of the STEM workplace. This particularly relates to meeting deadlines, managing distractions, and working as part of a team.

Are you a STEM administrator or instructor? What would you add to these tips? Students, what questions do you have for Susan and Don? Let us know!

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Susan Woods, M. Ed, recently retired as Associate Dean of Student Support Services at Middlesex Community College after 27 years. Susan managed the college’s Disability Support Services, supporting 1000 students with documented disabilities, as well as alternative and grant funded support programs. Susan has regularly provided training and workshops to faculty and staff on creating welcoming and inclusive environments and universal design for instruction. Her work now focuses on professional development and training to high school personnel and families to help support the successful transition to college for students with disabilities. Her professional development website is www.susanbwoods.com.

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