Final Thoughts

Directional signs  Student Support and Guidance

PTE 401 Student Support and Guidance has been a great guide for us as teachers and as students.  By using a book aimed at new college students we are taking a step back to put us in the shoes of a new student.  Unless you know where the person is coming from it is hard to help them.  As teachers, we will be providing support and guidance to students and we need to remember what it was like to be that new student on a college campus.

download   Campus Resources 

Each campus is a little different but the general support structure is the same.  Students need to get familiar with the campus map and learn where the offices are that they will need to visit.  As a student it is a good idea to sign up for a campus tour.  Some colleges have special orientation sessions prior to the start of campus so that students can transition and start to feel comfortable with their surroundings.  I’ve even heard of colleges providing a scavenger hunt for students to get them to search out where support offices and resources are on campus.


reach goal   Goals and Support

Defining goals is sometimes the hardest first step.  If that is the case, think bigger. Define yourself.  What is your personal mission statement? Make a broad goal, then start refining it based on your interests, values and skills. There will always be obstacles as you work toward your goals.  Plan ahead and build a support system of family, friends, teachers, counselors, tutors, a church or community groups. By planning for who to turn to in tough times you will know from the start that you are not alone in this journey.


time management goals   Time and Energy

It takes time to prepare, study, restudy, learn and do assignments. Do not underestimate the amount of time it will take you to do something.  Be prepared for class and look over material as soon as possible. Read assignments early and ask questions to clarify what the expectation is for a successful assignment.  Think about why the assignment was made and what your learning outcomes are for the assignment.
By planning and scheduling your study time, class time, travel time, work, sleep, and some time for relaxation and exercise, you can be more prepared for when you have conflicting priorities.  Just make sure you know which priority takes precedence.  Don’t get distracted by things that take away from quality study time, or quality prioritypersonal time.  If there
never seems to be enough time. Write down what you do for at least 3 days to a week.  When you become conscious of how you spend your time you can plan for using it more wisely.



celebrate diversity
Relationships and Diversity

Relationships with your instructors, classmates, friends and family are important and will need a little of your time to cultivate to maintain strength.  However, having coffee and conversation for 30 minutes may be a better choice than going to a 2 hour movie that doesn’t allow you to connect in meaningful ways.  College is a place that draws people with diverse social, physical abilities, ages, economic, cultural, racial, ethnic, gender and sexual preference backgrounds.  This is a time to learn about others and their life experiences.  Be kind and respectful of everyone. And ask politely about them and their life, beliefs and values.  You’ll never have a better opportunity than on a college campus to learn from such a diverse group of people.


Her Campus Studying Main _0

Study Skills

People are not just born with study skills.  These are skills that need to be practiced and used and refined.  Study skills include listening, note taking and reading.  Listening sounds easy but actively listening for important content takes practice. Note taking is more than writing down everything the teacher says or writes on the board.  Notes are helpful for discerning what information is important.  Review your notes right after class and ask questions to fill-in spots that weren’t clear.  There are several systems for notetaking that may make it easier to review and study from your notes.  The Cornell system is one of the systems that allows you to write notes, identify questions and summarize during review all on one page.


mind cogMemory Skills

All this studying and review will hopefully create learning if you can remember the material.  There are several ways we can make remembering easier. Mnemonic devices are clues we give ourselves of words and phrases that stand for important information. Other memory practices like chunking, we have learned and used almost without thinking about it when we remember telephone numbers.  More sophisticated methods are the roman room which take practice but allows you to remember a large amount of information with great detail.


Information Literacy, Research and Writingwordle1

One of the greatest things about the internet is that information on almost any subject can be found within seconds.  Learning what is a reliable source of information takes some time and requires you to analyze several things.  Who provided the information, what are their credentials? Where the information was published and is that source recognized for accurate information?  What was the purpose of the article? Was it to persuade you to take a side or change a belief? Was it to inform you or entertain you? Understanding these things is information literacy.  Information literacy is important to conduct research and write scholarly papers for classes.  Be sure to find out what the purpose of the paper assignment is and write with the tone, style and language required for the audience and purpose.


Wellness    Healthy Choices

Making healthy choices is more than just eating well, sleeping and getting exercise. It also involves how you handle stress.  A little stress is a good thing and can be a motivator.  Too much stress can be detrimental to mental, emotional and physical health.  Everyone is different in how they handle stress.  Know when to ask for help from a counselor and take time for relaxation, yoga, meditation and mindfulness.  Planning ahead can help diminish the causes of stress that occur from work, school and family demands. Learn from your past history.  If you know you are a slow reader or tend to over schedule obligations, take a step back and plan extra time or limit the number of activities you take on.


Planning the Next Stepplan ahead

Evaluating your goals and accomplishments is part of moving forward and planning the next steps. Be sure to check requirements that are needed for accomplishing your goal.

Degree requirements may have hidden prerequisites or classes that are only scheduled once a year.  Be sure to meet with an adviser when selecting classes and look for the yearly class schedule to make sure you don’t end up spending a couple quarters waiting for a class to be taught.

Financial planning is important for your time at college and preparing for life after college.  Don’t pick up bad habits with credit just because it is offered to you as a college student.  Bad money decisions you make in college can follow you for ten years and prevent you from getting employment, a car and housing. Good financial decisions will help you pave your way to your goals and provide for your future retirement.


careers treePreparing for Career and Life

College or career training is very important to reach your goals and potential but it is not real life.  College prepares you with skills and knowledge and teaches how to think.  College is a great atmosphere for meeting people and making connections.  Make sure you build relationships with instructors and staff.  These are the people that will be able to help you make connections in the business world and provide references for your character and quality of work.  Joining professional organizations and community service organizations is a way to network and further your career by becoming known by community and business leaders. Work with the career center to develop your resume and cover letters and practice interviewing skills.  As you look for work be flexible and look for positions that have potential to grow within the company or that may provide valuable experience.  When in question about the fit of a job, check in with your personal mission statement, values and beliefs.  A paycheck doesn’t make up for compromising who you truly are.


Professional Environment

Wordle2A Professional Environment

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines professionalism as, “the conduct, aims, or qualities that characterize or mark a profession or a professional person.”




A professional environment is based on respect, integrity, commitment, teamwork and communication. As instructors, we must model professionalism. We set the tone for our class from the first day.

follow the rulesCode of Conduct:

We should encourage the class to create rules of conduct based on respect for each student.  When a class develops its own conduct rules, there is more buy-in from the students.  Students will tend to monitor themselves and enforce conduct rules within their group without as much overt enforcement from the instructor.

A comprehensive and clear syllabus is important.  A syllabus serves as a contract of expectations and consequences for assignments and conduct.

If the students have a problem as a group they can bring the topic up for discussion in a respectful manner. The students can make requests about what is taught and how it is taught. An instructor is there to serve as a facilitator of learning for the students.  The students are not there to serve the instructor.


One situation I would have changed my behavior would be to encourage a work team to log when a colleague was not behaving in a professional manner.  Several people mentioned the problem to supervisors. The supervisors were reluctant to confront the person regarding their behavior for various reasons including a potential discrimination lawsuit. In retrospect, if everyone had kept a log of the instances, and presented them as a group, the supervisors would have to respond to the situation.



How did I get here? Part 2: Taking that hairpin curve on life’s highway

I may be the only person in my PTE class that is learning my profession while learning to teach that profession. I don’t have years of experience in the field. I will be continuing my professional winemaking studies even after I finish the PTE degree.



Having a good work ethic and a letter of recommendation means a lot in the wine industry.  There are about 900 wineries in Washington State but it is a community of business people that talk to each other.



My advice to students is to get at least the winemaking certificate and work in the field in whatever capacity you can. Find wineries that will let you volunteer or intern. Work hard, be on time and ask questions. You should be able to get experience for your resume and a letter of recommendation.  Also, you never know when a volunteer or internship position will become a paid position either.



Learning to plan is essential for a successful career and it is a skill that needs to be used honed in school.  Just as we have to plan weekly for how to juggle our school, work and family obligations, we must do long term planning for our career.  Think about where you want to be five years from now.  What will you have to do to accomplish those goals?  Break down what needs to be done into steps and make regular progress toward those goals.



For me, I am sacrificing now to train for a new career.  I am studying two programs concurrently and have worked as an intern with and without pay to gain experience in the wine industry.  I know that there will be a period of training and working jobs of increasing responsibility for several years until I can be where I want to be.   As with most careers, there will always be a need for life long education to stay up to date on current trends and technology.



As I reach my goals, it is good to reflect on where I have been and begin the planning for where I want to be in the future.  I am always evolving, learning, and growing.  My goals will change with my experiences.


How did I get here? The personal growth of rediscovering my passion and purpose.

I didn’t start taking PTE courses with the idea of actually taking the entire program. I was interested in learning about creating classes and saw the listing in the class schedule for PTE 302 Course Development. After taking the class, I was hooked.  It solidified the idea that I would be a wine educator, in addition to a wine maker.  A revelation to me that I would once again be moving toward being an instructor but with important differences from when I was previously at this crossroad.


Many years ago,  I left a doctoral program because I didn’t want the life of a university professor.  The exact path that I was on. I finished a master’s by doing research on a classroom of adult learners about their study of familiar and unfamiliar subject matter and how  their memory was impacted by the study question format and the test question format. Today I have spiraled back and found a deeper truth for myself and a how I want to educate others.


This spiral back was fueled by finding a subject that I was passionate about.  Something that was a blend of art and science.  A subject that gave me tangable proof of my efforts. A subject that required me to work with both my mind and my body to produce a result.  I found winemaking.  Wine can take on an expression of terroir,  an expression of chemical bonds being broken and remade with other elements, and an expression of the winemaker’s imagination and skill at manipulating and forming a unique taste experience.


The realization of my becoming a winemaker and an educator has taken a lot of effort and patience.  I have doubled up on my classes taking two programs at the same time.  I have had to take 20 credits while working this spring quarter to achieve my goals. This is the fourth quarter I have loaded my schedule with additonal classes. I tribute being able to do these studies with planning and having a better understanding of myself as a learner from taking PTE classes. It has also required patience. As much as I would like to know my subjects instantly. I have learned to respect and allow the process of learning over time. Again the spiriling back and making connections with things learned in the past and providing context for the knowledge to sit until it is used and again morphs from that use. I have learned how to be imperfect and to release myself from perfectionism.  My journey is my own, and it’s about the richness of experience. To be dedicated to my craft, I will be in a state of continual education. When formal education ends, I will continue to learn from my experience and from others in the field.

Test Anxiety Takes a Toll

Fellow instructors:

Here are some things that I have found helpful when working with students with test anxiety.

Initial anxiety can come from many factors, I have included a series of questions that my help get at the root of the initial anxiety.

With each failed exam, the pressure to do well on the next exam to save their grade increases and the stress and anxiety increase.

The student may even drop or fail classes due to the poor test performance. That can be expensive and limit the amount and type of student financial aid the student can get.

  • Has the student told their instructors about their anxiety? Has the student ever had an instructor suggest they speak to a counselor or offer retakes, alternate testing methods or locations? Is the student struggling but not communicating with their instructor? Perhaps the student is embarrassed and hiding the problem which creates even more stress.


Questions that can aid in finding the initial cause of anxiety:

  • Does the student carry a heavy class load, have family obligations or a difficult work schedule? (What are the demands on their time and energy?)
  • How the student is doing on their other coursework besides the exams? (Is the student understanding the material?)
  • How does the student complete all the reading and study guides provided by the instructor by the class prior to the test so that they can ask questions? (Does the student prepare ahead of time or cram the night before?)
  • Does the student attend a study group or go to the tutor on campus? (Is the student taking advantage of supports available to them?)
  • Where does the student study for exams? Describe the setting, lighting, distractions. (Is their environment conducive for studying?)
  • How does the student study for exams? Reading over notes, reading text, doing a study guide, using memory games. Maybe the student isn’t using all of their resources?
  • Does the student know if they is a Verbal, Aural, Reading/Writing or Kinesthetic learner? The student should take the VARK assessment and employ techniques that match their learning preferences into their study practice. If the student is a kinesthetic learner they may also want to take a fidget item with them to the test.
  • Are there particular types of questions the student has trouble with? Multiple choice, fill in the blank, essay. This can help to determine their level of understanding of the material and if they may need help in organizing information in an essay format
  • Does the student get a good night’s sleep, eat breakfast or the meal before the class or a snack, and drink plenty of water? Being tired, hungry and thirsty can make you lose focus during a test.
  • Does the student like their classes, what they are learning and the career that they are working toward? If they do not like where these classes are taking them as far as an educational or career goal, the student may be self-sabotaging. Maybe the student is in a program because their family, significant other or an advisor said it was a good field to be in but it isn’t really their dream.
  • Is the student the first in their family to attend college? Is their family supportive of attending college? Is there pressure to succeed?
  • Does the student feel worthy, and capable of success in college? Lacking feelings self–worth, self-confidence can create anxiety when in situations where students are asked to demonstrate their knowledge.


Ways of coping with stress and anxiety:

  • Does the student exercise regularly or do yoga, meditation, visualization, or relaxation exercises? All of these can help cope with stress and anxiety. If the student doesn’t do this, is are they willing to incorporate regular physical exercise and relaxation/visualization techniques into their schedule?
  • I would suggest learning breathing exercises the student can do regularly and before or during the test in the classroom. I can teach them the four-count square breathing exercise.
  • The student should visualize themselves walking into the testing room and going through the entire testing experience while remaining calm, cool and able to answer the questions. The student should repeat this visualization every night before bed. In the morning when they wakes and when they are in each classroom for their courses.
  • There has been research done that suggest that studying in the same environment that you take the test in can help in recall of information. Can the student spend time in the classroom studying when there is not the pressure of taking the test?
  • The student must go and talk to their instructors and explain what has been happening and that they are seeking help for the anxiety. Instructors may allow them to retake exams or show their knowledge in other ways like writing papers or have some other way to make up points.
  • The student should go to the college counselor or if the student has health insurance they may be able to get mental health services to discuss their anxiety further and they can help them learn how to control their anxiety and reduce stress. The student may want to try hypnosis. The student may need anxiety medication.

beat test anxiety

My Wine Online: Education Journal


The Community College.Brief. Amy Baldwin (2012) 3rd Ed., PearsonEducation Inc.

New Student Support

Enjoying your first quarter of college can be easier than you think.  It just takes preparation.  SILVER is an easy way to remember what you need to do. 

S – Supplies

I – Instructors’ Expectations

L – Learning

V – Vocabulary

E – Effort

R – Responsibility


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You wouldn’t show up to class without a pencil or pen and paper would you? Your college classes may require textbooks, special tools,  a calculator, access to a computer and internet. Be sure to go to the bookstore before class and read your class syllabus as soon as you have one to find out what you will need to be prepared.

Instructors’ Expectations

Here’s where that Syllabus comes in handy again. Your instructor will have their contact information and office hours on the syllabus. Introduce yourself to your instructor and contact them during their office hours with questions.  Your Syllabus will have the assigned readings and when there are assignments and exams.  Your instructors will expect you to do required reading before classes and you may be quizzed on it.  Be sure and ask questions if you don’t understand something.


You’ll be more successful at college by being an active learning.  Pay attention in class, ask questions, do your readings and expand your understanding of a subject by doing additional research online, joining a study group, utilizing the tutoring center, writing center and any other student support services you may need. If you don’t already know what your learning style is, take a quick test to understand how you learn best.  The VARK inventory will help you understand if you learn best by Visual, Aural, Reading and writing or Kinesthetically (Appendix A in The Community College Experience. Brief, 2012).  Tailor your study experiences to match your prefered learning styles.


It’s alphabet soup at college. Do you know if you completed your FAFSA and that because of FERPA your parents can’t access your college information without your permission? There will be a lot of acronyms for different documents, rules, campus groups, campus offices and programs.  Be sure to look through the college catalog, student handbook and ask questions when you aren’t familiar with an acronym.


Attendance is not taken in some college classes.  You should plan to attend every class session.  If you know you are going to miss a class,  discuss this with your instructor and make the effort to  cover all assignments and get notes.  Plan your time accordingly.  Assignments and exams and papers all require substantial work outside class. Make the effort to stay on schedule or work ahead in your classes.


In college you will be taking responsibility for your own learning and also should present yourself as a mature student.  Part of that maturity is paying attention in class and not creating distractions.  Turn of your cell phone or put it on vibrate if you must have it on. be courteous to professors, guest speakers, and other classmates.