2011 Faculty Awards: Q&A with John Begeny

April 29, 2011
By Bill Krueger

face-photo-for-departmentThe Alumni Association will honor 18 NC State professors on May 5 for their outstanding work in the classroom, in the laboratory and in the field. We talked (via email) with some of the recipients about their work and the keys to being a successful professor.
Today we’re visiting with John Begeny, an assistant professor of psychology. Begeny is one of three recipients of the Alumni Association Outstanding Extension and Outreach Award.

What is the key to being a successful teacher? As someone who studies teacher effectiveness in K-12 classrooms, I feel it’s important to highlight that there is no single characteristic or “formula” for being a successful teacher; and becoming a successful teacher (at all grade levels) takes decades of committing one’s self to the complicated art and science of teaching. I personally feel that I have learned a lot about what it means to be a successful teacher, but I have so much yet to learn. Overall, I feel that one important element of being a successful teacher is being continuously responsive to students’ lives and interests, as well as to their success in learning. For example, one’s teaching should inspire students, offer them opportunities to connect what they learn to real-life experiences and issues, and adapt in ways that will push students to excel while supporting them to succeed.

What gives you the greatest satisfaction as a professor? I truly love my my as a professor and feel incredibly fortunate to work with so many exceptional students at NC State. In this way, there are so many elements of my work that are highly rewarding. Two examples related to teaching that come to mind at the moment are: (a) listening to my students articulate with maturity, passion and realistic ideas how they plan to improve the lives of those in their community during their professional career; and (b) watching and reflecting upon how students building their professional skills and critical thinking over time–for both my undergraduate and graduate students, I feel very fortunate that I work with many of these students for several consecutive years.

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