When I attended college, the goal was to have students memorize as much content as possible. I am pleased with how teaching has shifted its focus over the years. Don’t get me wrong; content is still important. However, there is currently a much greater emphasis on engaging students through active discussions to gain various perspectives, applying learned principles to advance a topic’s understanding, and relating the material to the student’s life and career ambitions so the material is as useful as possible. This type of approach enables faculty to open students’ eyes to new opportunities, encourage students to explore hidden passions, and establish knowledge that students will draw on for a lifetime - not just a semester. I believe this is how Waubonsee shapes tomorrow's confident and well-rounded leaders.
As an assessment and technology advocate, I am focused on innovation for students. What case study will excite more students? What podcast will best emphasize the learning outcome for students? What escape room will hook my readers? However, learning doesn’t stop when students leave campus. As a community college instructor, one of my main goals is to have students utilize their education to become effective members of their communities. One way I do this is to look for outside events such as Fermi Lab seminars to help expand upon what we discuss in class. I also suggest humanitarian events such as blood donations, forest preserve clean-ups, and other activities to encourage students to give back to their communities.
I feel inspired when I read the college’s new mission statement. I believe it embodies what I strive for in my classes and what I see reflected in the college's actions. I think about resources shared during Faculty Development Days that continue to encourage access to learning for all students, how the college quickly pivoted to provide numerous technology resources to students during the pandemic, and all the new and innovative strategies I now have for engaging my students moving forward.
A major strength of Waubonsee Community College is its diverse student population. In contrast to a traditional four-year university where the student population tends to be more homogenous, Waubonsee students come from various backgrounds in terms of age, work and life experience, country of origin, cultural background, and financial background. This diversity readily contributes to the ability of students to hear multiple points of view on any given discussion topic and cultivate a broader outlook on the material we cover in the course, as well as sometimes life itself.
Finally, all Waubonsee employees need to support each other. If we are to be at the top of our field, we need to ensure our needs are being met. Valuing and taking care of mental health, physical health, recognition programs, and professional development resources and opportunities are all exceedingly important to creating a thriving work culture. In this line of work, it’s easy to give too much of yourself, so it is vital to have access to support and resources to help manage that delicate work-life balance.