The Alumni Association will honor 21 NC State professors on May 3 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 Jessica DeCuir-Gunby, an associate professor of education in the College of Education. DeCuir-Gunby is one of seven professors being recognized with Outstanding Teacher Awards.
What is the key to being a successful teacher? I feel there are several keys to being a successful teacher. First, it is important to establish a healthy student-teacher relationship that is based upon trust and respect; this helps to create a welcoming learning community. I also think that a successful teacher is encouraging; it is imperative to help motivate students to believe in their abilities both in and outside of the classroom. Third, a successful teacher uses culturally relevant methods to help students learn course content; it is necessary to incorporate students’ experiences as well as popular culture and recent events into course materials. Last, a successful teacher makes course content applicable to students’ futures; it is essential to provide real-world activities that can be applied to students’ professional lives.
What gives you the greatest satisfaction as a professor? I love receiving correspondence from former students stating how they were able to use what they learned in my class in their respective professions. I receive great satisfaction knowing that my courses are directly applicable to my students’ lives. I also receive satisfaction when students decide to continue their learning based upon taking one of my courses. It is quite humbling to know that I have helped inspire students to further their education.