August 3, 2022

Supporting Educators with Services and Technology – St. Cloud State TODAY

When Iyekiyapiwin Darlene St. Clair began her career as an educator, she taught the way she was taught: “That I had to be the expert but not necessarily a qualified teacher.” Through her multiple roles as associate professor of Native American studies, director of the Multicultural Resource Center, and public scholar working with external communities, she has become a central figure in the emphasis on teacher-scholar training in St. Cloud State.

Iyekiyapiwin Darlene St. Clair

“The teaching and learning fellowship is something I first learned about here at SCSU,” St. Clair said. “I understand this practice as linking our work and training as academics to our work as teachers. Now it is at the heart of my identity.

“I also consider myself a public scholar,” said St. Clair, who is Dakota, a citizen of the Lower Sioux Indian community. “For the past 10 years, I’ve worked on a project that holds spaces in the Twin Cities as sacred sites for Dakotas,” she said. “Students in my Native Nations of Minnesota class worked on a multi-year project called Native SCSU. Students study and share through a digital humanities project about how the SCSU campus, St. Cloud, and central Minnesota are Indigenous places with long and varied Indigenous histories.

In addition to its scholarship, community outreach, and classroom teaching, part of St. Clair’s job is to support others. “My work has two parts: they are interconnected because the Multicultural Resource Center supports students, faculty, staff and the community. »

The mission of the Center is to provide services and resources for students, faculty, and community members to research, teach, and expand their knowledge about historically excluded racial and ethnic groups of color, including the historical and contemporary experiences of people of color in the Midwest.

“I work extensively with other teachers in their teaching role, including anti-racism pedagogy projects since 2008, facilitating analysis of how they work, teaching how anti-racism pedagogy can be integrated into their teaching and how it can ignite their love of teaching,” she says. “All are connected thanks to my work.

I have spent a great deal of time thinking, studying, and discussing how higher education disciplines, departments, and classrooms are sites where race and racism are experienced.

In Minnesota State and St. Cloud State, all faculty have the opportunity to engage in Equity By Design, the system-wide initiative that addresses diversity, equity, and diversity. inclusion by asking campuses to use data to locate, understand, and close gaps in academic equity. .

“How can we overcome these obstacles and overcome these obstacles? said Saint-Clair. “It is an interdisciplinary framework for each faculty member to become a more successful teacher/academic.”

“Being a good teacher has become more widely prioritized and valued,” St. Clair said. “We have to struggle with how we see ourselves beyond teachers, as learners learning with students.
“It’s not sustainable to forever be the experts passing knowledge in one direction.”

St. Cloud State faculty have historically had a strong commitment to teaching, said Dr. LaVonne Cornell-Swanson, associate vice provost for faculty and student affairs. “We don’t just hire people to come and teach. We want to attract passionate and knowledgeable experts who remain active in their own discipline in addition to teaching their courses.

In addition to the Multicultural Resource Center, the Office of Sponsored Programs and the University Library provide great support for research presentation and publication, Cornell-Swanson said. “And at the center of faculty development is CETL, the Center of Excellence in Teaching and Learning.”

According to its mission, CETL “supports and celebrates communities of scholars engaged in collaborative inquiry to achieve intellectual and personal growth”.

“The CETL model is essential to the development of engaged new faculty,” said Cornell-Swanson.

Dr. Janet Tilstra, who has an interdisciplinary background with clinical training in speech-language pathology and research training in educational psychology, is a CETL faculty member for the new Teaching and Learning Fellowship program ( SoTL) aimed at improving the academic experiences of all students. It’s an essential part of St. Cloud State’s It’s time initiative.

Along with Graduate Director Dr. Aeriel Ashlee and CETL Faculty Director Emeritus Dr. Debra Japp, Tilstra is leading the development of a cohort model to help create a stronger community of teachers and scholars.

“Outside experts will train and mentor a group of us to learn more about what a teacher-scholar is,” she said. “Each of us develops projects, works with student leaders in a pilot cohort.”

“I’m very excited about the teacher-scholar model,” Tilstra said. “It’s not about working for yourself, but about helping students become practitioners, a model that claims this more formally, with people dedicated to their profession. Is it to have the will to say that it is important enough that we make a formal commitment to developing teachers who are motivated by “how can I improve my teaching”? »

Tilstra, who has taught at levels from adjunct instructor to associate professor and director of graduate studies in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, is sensitive to the variety of backgrounds and levels of experience represented among members of the St. Cloud State faculty. “I think I understand the different roles they have,” she said.

“People are excited about leadership and the intention to be role models for change,” Tilstra said. “The focus on the teacher-scholar model brings together a lot of what we care about. We make deliberate choices with the voices we listen to. We are open to shaping things and we are invested in progress.

“We’re looking for what to add to build a core group of people working together in a community of practice in partnership across departments on common goals,” Tilstra said. “I think there’s a lot of magic in there.”

There’s also a lot of magic in the technical expertise that visualization engineer Mark Gill conjures up to support teaching and learning at St. Cloud State. Talk to a professor in any field who has integrated imaginative technology into teaching and you’ll hear the name of the university go-to person to make it happen.

Visualization engineer Mark Gill is coordinator of the ISELF Visualization Lab.

Gill, who is the Integrated Science and Engineering Laboratory (ISELF) Visualization Lab Coordinator, is another education professional whose job it is to empower faculty and surround them with resources to engage students and trigger learning in all disciplines with state-of-the-art technology. .
In 30 years, he has witnessed a huge change not only in his field, but also in the level of understanding students have of his world of work on virtual reality and imaginative technology.

“I’ve seen this field come closer and closer to the mainstream,” he said. “When I started, it was mysterious. Now potential students come on tour and know what virtual reality is. They’ve seen it and understood it.

Gill has a strong sense of the impact of her work and field on teaching and learning at St. Cloud State as well as its potential for society as a whole.

In the TedxStCloud talk he gave recently at the Paramount Theater in St. Cloud, Gill said, “We have the power to improve lives, in ways past generations could hardly imagine. From cancer to climate change, the solutions to virtually all of our problems could come from technological advantages. We live in a time when we will soon be able to bring into existence anything we can imagine. Software that monitors. Devices that can look inside. We are creating a future that is beautiful and terrifying in its potential. It is our choice to make.

Gill made his choice long ago, when he started performing magic for teachers and students at St. Cloud State. It facilitates interactive design projects that enhance teaching for faculty and provide invaluable learning opportunities for students. “We rely heavily on art students for content,” he said, adding that he had recently majored in English who wanted to gain experience as a technical writer and became a great partner. of writing for Gill’s projects.

Some of his most memorable projects have called on the imagination and technical expertise of students, including a climate chaos-themed game that incorporated a smoke machine, a globe, very low-funded lights and lots of creativity. “Everything was designed and built by the students,” Gill said. “The primary focus of the lab is student engagement.”

This year, Gill, Dr. Matt Julius of biology, Dr. Bill Gorcica of art, and Dr. Kristian Twombly came together to create a five-minute video showing the effects of climate change on diatoms.
When the pandemic forced professors to seek creative new ways to incorporate remote learning into their teaching, Gill helped them incorporate virtual reality in the form of avatars and other visualizations to bring their teachings to life. research and teaching.

“I think I have the best job on campus,” Gill said. “I’m interested in new things. Understand how something works. That’s what motivates me.