Teaching Excellence Awards

 Year Awarded: 2016

Faculty Award winner

Amanda Raffenaud

 College of Health & Public Affairs

 Health Management & Informatics

To teach, to mentor, to instruct is an honor. But in addition to these roles, I teach in order to develop students for success, I am a developer. I see potential in all students and know that they are destined for greatness. Their time with me in the classroom is but a blip in their journey in life. So in the short semesters I spend with students in higher education, I aim to develop. Beyond textbooks and lectures, I broaden our discussion and students' awareness to link theory to practice. I encourage students to apply the content to themselves and journeys, to resonate with it, to make it meaningful, and then respond from a place of deep understanding. For me, to teach, includes the act of instructing, but it also encompasses the act of motivating, encouraging, and developing.

There is not one typical style or format to my classroom. Some days, we spend our time resonating with a few key questions and dialogue together, using the Socratic Method, to better understand the content and its application. Other days, lectures incorporate rich information through documentaries where lessons are learned by watching others practicing in their field. Or, relevant and current case studies or news articles are incorporated into textbook material to better portray real life scenarios. And even still, some days allow students to become the teachers, and instruct each other with information they have learned. A variety of classroom engagement methods, as well as activities that reach multiple learning styles, remain important to my teaching philosophy.

When students enter the classroom at the start of their semester, I briefly discuss my teaching style. That is, I explain my hope for their total learning experience. Yes, mastery of course objectives, understanding course content, and gaining knowledge in all course areas is important. Beyond that, however, my hope is that students grow in other areas as well. Debates and presentations allow for students to enhance their public speaking skills. Written case analysis and papers allow for students to enhance their writing skills. Dialoguing with peers, often revolving around controversial topics, allow the students to enhance their listening and communication skills. And, at the conclusion of the semester, it is my hope that students are better, more equipped students for having participated in these activities.

The last piece of my teaching philosophy is unique to me. To be a sound teacher, I must also be a learner. Part of my passion for teaching comes from my passion for learning. Once Iíve discovered new methods, new ideas, new outcomes and new paradigms, I cannot help but to teach them. Teaching and learning go hand-in-hand. In this, my students and I are in a similar spot; we are both here to grow and to learn, and in that process, we are being developed into the best versions of ourselves.