"Getting to know students is important to me, so I work at building a community of learners in online courses."
I taught in the public school system for 10 years, working with students in grades 3-6. There were lots of highlights while being a classroom teacher, including team teaching for four years, looping with an entire group of 4th graders to their 5th grade year, and co-teaching with special education and speech pathology professionals. I believe that creating a classroom community is critical, and the relationships I built with students and their families remain the most important part of teaching to me.
After achieving National Board Certification in literacy, I was asked to be a literacy/instructional coach in the district I was working in. Stepping away from the classroom was a difficult decision for me, but I learned so much from all of the teachers I worked with as a coach for five years. I began mentoring teacher candidates for practicum experiences my second year of teaching. That led me to become a building and district lead teacher for candidates at Washburn University. I became an adjunct instructor with them as a result of my work with candidates. I was a district leader in professional learning and served as co-chair of that committee for over eight years.
Which online degree program(s) do you teach?
Which classes do you teach online?
I will be teaching the capstone action research course as well as Leading in the Digital Age.
In what ways do you connect with online students?
I think it's important to use the course site as the main connection with students so the student and I can refer back to any dialogue we have had. I use Threaded Discussions to facilitate group conversations within the course site. I like secret Facebook pages for sharing content-specific material I may find; for example, I have a literacy and STEAM group for undergraduates.
What do you want your students to take away from class?
Leading in the Digital Age will focus on connecting and collaborating with educators to achieve the hallmarks of 21st Century learning and includes blending theories with practices, focusing on creative ways to problem-solve, and increasing competencies with digital learning tools. Class participants will be expected to be critical consumers of information about digital pedagogy and practices, the hallmarks of a positive digital reputation, and ethics associated with digital tools.
Why did you start teaching?
Teaching is a second career for me. My first degree was in education, but I did not start teaching until later when I went back and completed my degree in elementary education. Even when I was working in a different field, there was always something missing. I knew that something was being able to teach, specifically teaching children. After teaching and coaching for 15 years, I realized that my passion had changed from experiences I had with teacher candidates in the classroom, mentoring new teachers, and coaching veteran teachers to improve instruction and student learning. After receiving National Board Certification in literacy and completing my master's degree, I knew that I wanted to complete a doctorate so that I could work in higher education to prepare teacher candidates.
What advice would you give to your online students?
Online learning requires daily attendance. The course site should be checked every day because that is how instructors communicate with their students. In order to be a part of the learning community, it is essential to be "present" in the site. I think it is also important to ask questions. I appreciate when a student asks for clarity rather than completing an assignment and asking clarifying questions later. Being attentive to email or course announcements is critical. I give students a great deal of feedback on assignments, and I like to know that students are reflecting on that feedback to complete future work.
What qualities make someone particularly successful as an educator?
Getting to know students is important to me, so I work at building a community of learners in online courses. Giving students feedback in a timely way so that they have time to reflect on the feedback and use it to inform their future work is also critical.
What is the one book you think everyone should read?
I read a lot, so this is a difficult question. Let's go with a recent favorite: "All the Light We Cannot See" by Anthony Doerr.
What do you do when you need a laugh?
Even though it is a serious show, there are moments in every episode of West Wing that make me laugh.
Tell us something your students may not know about you:
I enjoy fly-fishing. I am not very good at it because I don't practice. But there is a lot to be said for standing on the edge of a stream or in the middle of it and taking in the peace and quiet and beauty. I admit to being a trout snob, mostly because I like to fish in the areas where trout are common, and I only do catch and release.
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