Teaching Excellence Awards

 Year Awarded: 2009

Faculty Award winner

Michelle Kelley

 College of Education

 Teaching and Learning Principles

A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops. - Henry Brooks Adams, Author

How many people can honestly say that their job positively affects hundreds, even thousands of children? I can. I am charged with preparing pre-service teachers to make a significant difference in the lives of others. Therefore, I am extremely committed to providing them with the best possible education and serving as a role model for teaching. This includes the knowledge and skills needed to be an effective reading teacher, as well as the nuances related to the craft of teaching.

I strongly believe that students need a classroom environment that is safe, caring, and engaging in order for them to learn. Students need scaffolding and support as they hone their skills and understandings. They need to feel free to ask questions and to believe that their instructor cares whether they succeed or fail. By setting high expectations for students, modeling best practices in class, involving students in meaningful tasks, and encouraging discussion and reflection, I know that students flourish and become capable educators.

Creating a nurturing and responsive classroom culture is my priority. I am very approachable. I make myself available to students for face-to-face assistance and through timely emails. Since students perform better when the target is clear, I provide them with specific rubrics on assignments and I often share exemplars from previous students. I also give students written feedback on assignments to celebrate accomplishments, to offer suggestions for improvement, and to encourage higher-level thinking. In addition, throughout the semester I conduct “temperature checks” through exit slips and other techniques in order to get feedback on my own teaching as well as student learning.

One personal teaching objective I have is to enhance my students’ self-efficacy in the areas of reading assessment and instruction. At the beginning of each semester I survey my students to find out what they perceive as their strengths and weaknesses, related to the course content to be taught, and then I adjust the course curriculum according to their needs. At the end of the semester I have them take a post-survey. After grades have been posted, I review this data to determine shifts and see whether I was effective in increasing their efficacy. Some students may demonstrate knowledge (via exams and course projects), but without self-efficacy they might not be successful in the classroom.

In addition to making the learning experiences in my classes fun and meaningful, I am mindful to keep students current with trends in my field related to research and policy. Furthermore, I am a life-long learner myself and I encourage students to get involved in professional organizations and partake in the HAPPY (Having Active Participation Prepares You) Hour workshops we offer through the College of Education. I firmly believe that learning never stops and I know that professional development is central to personal growth and sustainment in the profession. My primary goal is to develop capable, confident, and caring teachers.