Student growth and development are a given when working in higher education. At least, in my mind they are. Everything I do has students at the forefront of my mind. I am constantly asking myself questions such as: How will this benefit my students? What would my students think of this? Could my students use this? How can I keep my expectations high of my students? Is my lesson(s) relevant? What opportunities are there to get to know my students better? Am I balancing knowing them and them knowing me? In short, my students are of the utmost importance and consideration to me. Their experience at SMSU and pride is our institution can not take a back seat. It is at the forefront in all of my decisions and actions. My SMSU LC is not a degree mill! These students will work hard on relevant work and be proud when they are done. It is my intention to make sure when they leave my program that they become our best marketers by doing a great job in the field and by referring every potential undergraduate and graduate student to us they know!
In this age of technology and social media, we have lost he art of handwritten communication. There is something emotional that happens when people go to the mail box and have an unexpected greeting waiting. Especially when it is from someone they didn't ever expect to get something like this from. I know this because it has become part of my practice to hand write cards to every single one of my graduate students twice per year. The students love it and feel special to me and SMSU. In addition to these old-fashioned handwritten messages, I also send personal emails to all of my students throughout the months of the program.
To keep in constant communication with my students, I have also started an LC Facebook Page, a blog for them called the "Unordinary Professor", and a professional website for them as a reference.
I believe I might be one of the last professors to conduct a graduate council within in my Learning Communities. This process provides students the opportunity for joint governance of the program. It also provides a forum for student feedback that is immediate. In addition to that feedback forum, I also conduct weekend evaluations with them. From these evaluations, immediate changes can and are made. I do this so the students have the very best experience and programming possible.
I work tirelessly to assist my students with producing and disseminating impressive and stellar research. In addition to the time during class, I offer addition sessions via Skype or in-person to flesh out their research. During the summer, I host a retreat "Writing Right" at my home. During this time, students get advanced instruction and conduct a series of peer reviews. These retreats are held with both of my learning communities present at the same time. Therefore, providing great networking with educators from around the state. This year, we will have our first ever "Battle of the LC's" with initiative games and team building events.
I write dozens of student recommendation letters each year. I also hire past LC students, undergrads, community members, and co-workers to conduct work that build's their educational resume including editing, marketing, etc. Also, as a service to my students, I conduct free inservices to any of their home school districts.
A very proud moment for me this past year was when I invited two of my former graduate students to attend Center for Scholastic Inquiry's Academic Research Conference in Chaska, MN to present their research papers. They accepted the all expense paid invitation and presented. They were presenting with scholars, mostly doctoral level, from around the globe. Even so, my students placed in the top5 in the Best Presentation competition as voted by the international peers that attended/presented. WOW!! This was blasted out on social media and within the teacher's home communities. My Facebook page alone had nearly 2000 hits. All the while, marketing their SMSU experience!
These are just a few of the highlights for my work within criterion four. Please click on the brown box below to read my comprehensive report.