I have been fortunate to have fantastic educational experiences working with diverse groups of students and adult learners. I have traveled to Guatemala spending time focused on indigenous education, Latvia observing how students who speak multiple languages navigate literacy, and Lithuania conducting a comprehensive school review.
Research drives our practice, so I continue my research work examining best methods in pre-service education, as well as how literacy faculty negotiate the spaces between the classroom and field experience.
Which classes do you teach online?
EDUC 544: Advanced Reading Methods Across the Curriculum; EDUC 560: Reading Inquiry; and EDUC 591: Instructional Foundations and Interventions for Literacy Difficulties
In what ways do you connect with online students?
I use Zoom as a method to have whole class discussion, but also break out groups for small groups discussions. I also use video recording for mini-lessons and have students create videos for presentations.
What do you want your students to take away from class?
My classes are designed to promote exploration into new and unused best practice instruction. I want my students to leave class with the knowledge that taking risks and moving beyond comfortable teaching methods can produce engaged, active learning.
What advice would you give to your online students?
I am an advocate for online education. As a teacher, our days are busy, and attending class on a strict schedule can be restrictive. Online learning offers the opportunity to read/write/discuss on a more flexible schedule.
My best advice (after completing half my doctorate online) is to start early. Teachers' lives have many unexpected "happenings," that can interfere with deadlines. I also would block out time on my schedule for devoted time to my coursework. This carved out time that I could keep free on my schedule.
What qualities make someone particularly successful as an educator?
I believe the qualities of a successful educator include a true love of learning and creating a community of learners. Teaching is not a static profession. Educators need to constantly challenge themselves to read and try new methods. However, classrooms should embrace kindness, empathy and ideas of social justice. We are influencing our future generations.
Why did you start teaching?
My mother was an elementary teacher, and playing "school" is one of my earliest memories. I came into teaching as a second career, first starting in health care. It was through my work as a school nurse that I entered the classroom. Often, I spent more time co-teaching lessons with teachers than in my office. It was through this experience in the classroom that lead me back to school for a degree in teaching.
I left the classroom to get my Ph.D., to learn more about best practice methods and engage in conversations about the teaching profession. Now, creating lessons and designing instruction that connect with student interest is a primary focus in my teaching.
What is the one book you think everyone should read?
I am a reader, so I have many books I could share. I am a huge fan of historical fiction, so I would recommend The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara. One of my favorite movies is Willow, which is a fantasy film directed by Ron Howard.
What do you do when you need a laugh?
I love The Big Bang Theory and The Goldbergs. Otherwise, I try to get in a comedy show.
Tell us something interesting about yourself that your students may not know.
I hate to exercise (but reluctantly do it). I love to travel—I have been to all 50 states and plan on visiting other countries to get the full travel experience.