Thank you to all students, staff, faculty and leaders at the Werklund School of Education for the honour in receiving a Teaching Excellence Award. I am proud to be a member of an innovative and growth-oriented learning community!
The following are responses I provided to reflective questions about teaching for the award ceremony:
1. What makes teaching a passion or something that you strive to excel at in your academic work?
My family influenced many of my interests including my passion for teaching and learning. For example, I remember my grandfather passionately teaching me how to read and write in Italian at a young age. He was one of my first role model teachers that taught me to value learning and to persevere with passion. As such, receiving feedback from students in my classes indicating they are “happy and learning” makes me continue to strive towards excellence and continual growth in my work.
2. What are some attributes of your excellence in teaching?
I believe students come first and I make my students and teaching classes my priority. When I’m prioritizing my daily tasks, my students come first. Responding to student questions, sending out class communications and providing feedback is first on my to-do list each day. I also believe learning is a collaborative partnership and a characteristic of excellence. Each term I look forward to working alongside my students and I thank my students for influencing my learning as much I endeavor to activate their learning.
I have always been passionate about learning and I’m particularly inspired by new ways of learning and building connections with learners in digital spaces. I try to share my passion for learning and organize my online teaching spaces so they are inviting for students and foster active participation. I try to motivate students by designing authentic and challenging learning activities. Furthermore, I have high expectations for students and provide ongoing formative feedback, scaffolding to meet individual student needs, and offer many opportunities for students to improve their work in the company of peers.
This is a sample of student feedback I received over the last year:
Thank you very much for your guiding expertise which helped me to produce my best for this course . . . . Your strategies to get the studio group engaged were quite innovative and thoughtful, keeping us in check to achieve our academic goals. Thanks for being an awesome instructor, I enjoyed being apart of the team and hope we get to work and learn together again. ~ MEd (Technology) student, Dec. 12, 2013
You were very responsive always to any request or question I had. I really appreciated how available you were by email — I never had to wait for a response, very much appreciate that. I, also, enjoyed your feedback and comments on my written work, you gave me clarity and suggestions to make my work more grounded and supported by evidence. I think you would be a fabulous dissertation advisor as you are able to balance guidance and direct feedback with support and guidance in professional and courteous manner. Thanks for everything. ~ EdD (Postsecondary), Dec. 16, 2013
Thanks for the feedback. Very helpful indeed. You have a done a great job with this course. Well structured with appropriately spaced online sessions and topics. You are extremely responsive and supportive which is very, very helpful. And your passion sure comes through! ~ EdD (Postsecondary) student, Dec. 17, 2013
While all of my teachers have provided similar learning environments, the effectiveness of the learning experience has been determined by the quality of the teacher…. John Hattie wrote an interesting article contrasting expert and experienced teachers which is worth looking at: (http:http://www.drbarbbrown.com/wp-content/uploadshttp://www.drbarbbrown.com/wp-content/uploadswww.acer.edu.auhttp://www.drbarbbrown.com/wp-content/uploadsdocumentshttp://www.drbarbbrown.com/wp-content/uploadsRC2003_Hattie_TeachersMakeADifference.pdf)
…. During the TED talks that were filmed in Vancouver this past spring, Melinda Gates echoed a similar sentiment in an interview published in The Vancouver Sun: “But the thing that we learned, and what turned out to be the fundamental key is a great teacher in front of the classroom,” (http:http://www.drbarbbrown.com/wp-content/uploadshttp://www.drbarbbrown.com/wp-content/uploadswww.vancouversun.comhttp://www.drbarbbrown.com/wp-content/uploadsbusinesshttp://www.drbarbbrown.com/wp-content/uploadsTED2014+Charity+work+Bill+Melinda+Gates+without+misstepshttp://www.drbarbbrown.com/wp-content/uploads9636267http://www.drbarbbrown.com/wp-content/uploadsstory.html)
The teacher is so important in a student’s learning experience even in an online environment. You can provide the same course outline, but the difference the teacher makes is amazing. So, thank you for providing such a great learning experience. Your ‘expertness’ is evident in your excellent teaching. ~ MEd (Leadership) student, June 2, 2014
I have re-submitted my paper. Thank you so much for meeting with me today. I was really touched by your advice and understanding. I felt that the opportunity to review my work really helped me solidify and argue the importance of the topic. I feel that you were quite generous and I would like to thank you for giving me the opportunity to learn and grow from this assignment. ~ MEd (Interdisciplinary) July 11, 2014