As an educator, I contribute to the development of students so that they become more independent, self-aware, engaged scholars. My students have agency in their learning. It is not only possible, but necessary to provide rigorous educational experiences in a compassionate way. Students are humans, with lives, families, jobs, and personal circumstances. Honoring their humanity enriches the compassion with which I approach supporting them. The classroom is a learning community where I celebrate the richness of student experiences and foreground those in the classroom as a critical learning tool.
Every student in my classroom is provided opportunities to practice collaboration and leadership; these are essential as they enter or continue in the workplace, as well as for building their engagement with the community. Modeling active learning strategies in this way not only engages students with course materials, but embeds them in a culture of quality teaching and learning.
An integrated understanding of related civic issues and social justice is also a critical element of this work. I am a social justice-oriented educator, and embrace diversity of person, thought, and culture within the classroom. I empower students to civically engage and challenge them to draw connections between course content, the field of higher education, and the broader community.
All these methods are matters of both teaching and modeling in and outside of the classroom.
I encourage students to engage with and contribute to scholarship in and outside the classroom. My teaching then extends to my research, where I make a point of including students. I was provided with ample opportunities as a graduate student to engage with mentors in their work; this had a profound impact on who I am as a scholar. I prioritize opportunities for students in grant proposals and regularly invite students to join projects.
I have a strong commitment to measuring my teaching and my students’ learning. As a reflection of students’ experience, course evaluations and grades are an important piece of how that evaluation happens, but to ensure a robust understanding of impacts I employ additional tactics. These include periodic student check-ins through both anonymous questionnaires and face-to-face discussions, longitudinal review of student work, and review of students’ personal scholarly growth and goal achievement through advising. My growth as an educator and my students’ growth as learners are intertwined, and these diverse formal and informal evaluation methods give me a more complete understanding of the influence of my teaching and help me identify potential areas for growth.
As a teacher, leader, and scholar in higher education, I am a role model for my students in and outside of the classroom. I see it as my duty to not only set an example within the institution, but also to facilitate their connection to scholarship and scholars throughout the field. Teaching higher education and educational leadership means having a direct influence on the facilitators of educational experiences that shape our work force, our citizenry, and indeed our society. I find this profoundly humbling and take my work as an educator and scholar to heart.
© Jaclyn Rivard 2021