#NISODProfiles – Tom Grady
“Every day that I come to work, I am provided with an opportunity to make a positive impact on the lives of others, to be an agent of change, and to help open the doors of opportunity for learners. This is what drives me each day and fills my soul with a sense of purpose.”
How long have you been a college educator?
I have been teaching for 25 years.
What is your favorite part about being a community college educator?
Every day that I come to work, I am provided with an opportunity to make a positive impact on the lives of others, to be an agent of change, and to help open the doors of opportunity for learners. This is what drives me each day and fills my soul with a sense of purpose.
What is your best piece of advice for new or existing colleagues at community or technical colleges in your field?
I can’t say that our responsibilities, tasks, mission, and purpose are always easy, but I do know each of these is always rewarding and very humbling. Every day that we arrive on campus or login to teach our online classes, we have the opportunity to impact the lives of others. Engage in evidence-based, high-impact practices and maintain a growth mindset, because “Shift Happens.” Remember that we are preparing learners for careers that don’t even exist yet, and so we must do our best to prime students for the 21st century’s educational landscape and careers.
How do you connect with your students?
I strive to create learning environments that promote critical thinking and active learning and remain student-centered. This begins on the first day of class with introductions and continues throughout the semester. Over the course of a class, my students and I work together as a team in the teaching and learning process: learners are provided with opportunities to provide routine and consistent feedback for me, and I consistently communicate expectations, requirements, learning objectives, and the purpose of all coursework to my learners. I also provide students with timely, relevant, and meaningful feedback on assignments to allow them an opportunity for linear progress throughout a course and to demonstrate that I am genuinely focused on their success in the class.
Share a memorable teaching experience and explain why it was so impactful.
This is tough—after 25 years of having had the opportunity to impact so many lives, selecting a single moment isn’t easy. But, here goes: I remember one semester, several years ago when I was teaching at Allen Community College, when one of my classes was just a rough class. I tried everything that term, but couldn’t seem to make a positive impact on the group. At the end of the semester, one student in the class wrote me a note that essentially told me how much he had appreciated my efforts and concluded it with this statement: “As long as you care about teaching, the majority of your students will care about learning.” I have never forgotten that phrase. A few years later, I was awarded a NISOD Excellence Award. My students are the reason I earned that award and why I continue waking up each day, ready to make a difference in the lives of others.
Every month, NISOD profiles faculty and staff from our member colleges who are doing extraordinary work on their campuses. #NISODProfiles offer a direct connection to your colleagues from across the world who exemplify NISOD’s mission of improving teaching, learning, and leadership.