How long have you been an educator?
What is your favorite part about being a community or technical college educator?
I have the opportunity to meet with a special group of students and help them succeed. Helping students coming from these diverse backgrounds who have different individual needs is an extremely rewarding aspect of my career. Besides the knowledge and skills that they learn from my classes, I love to see my students develop a sense of self-assurance and the confidence needed to successfully perform in the real world.
What is your best piece of advice for new or existing colleagues at community or technical colleges in your field?
Despite the multitude of different teaching philosophies, a key facet should be the student experience. When I come into work every day, I think of ways that I can serve my students that not only help them succeed academically, but help them feel comfortable in the classroom in order to facilitate their learning. I believe the teacher who understands the relational dynamics of the class is able to have a complete understanding of each student as an individual and encourage them to explore their abilities through their particular skills and talents. Ultimately, this allows them to succeed in the classroom and also in their future endeavors. It is also important to keep up with technological changes in order to ensure that the learning experience is smooth, accessible, and efficient.
How do you connect with your students?
I strive to create a welcoming environment for my students and clearly demonstrate that I really do care about their success and well-being in the course. I also encourage them to be active participants in their learning in order to garner as much knowledge as they can from the course. For my on-campus classes, I employ the relational teaching approach, and I take time to talk to my students individually to get to know them better. In online classes, I encourage students to introduce themselves through email and extend an invitation to visit with me in person on campus if they so desire. I strongly encourage them to contact me if there is a need and keep up with students who have missed assignments, absences, or have other issues in the course.
Share a memorable teaching experience and explain why it was so impactful.
I once got an email from one of my student’s parents. This particular student was in my college algebra and calculus class. He had been homeschooled prior to taking courses at our college with hopes of one day becoming an aerospace engineer, and he was anxious because math was not one of his strongest subjects. I did not know that what he learned in my class had helped him fulfill his dream of becoming an aerospace engineer until I received the email from his father. We take for granted how much of an impact we have on our student’s lives, but this inspired me to explore more strategies to make learning accessible to students irrespective of their individual needs.