The 2022-2023 Excellence in Teaching Doctoral Level Award winner is Janet Jenkins. Janet is a doctoral student in the PhD program in Elementary Education, as well as an assistant lecturer in the Elementary Education department at Ball State. Dr. Jackie Sydnor nominated Janet, and she said this about her: “She is truly a talented teacher who strives to support each of her students as they develop into teachers themselves. Her passion for teaching is palpable. Teaching can be a tough and underappreciated profession. By showing students how they can find joy in teaching, she is providing them with the tools they will need to be resilient and joyful teachers who make an impact on their students, families, and schools. She is an outstanding educator who is focused on the success of her students and deserving of such an award to recognize her exemplary teaching.” Congratulations to Janet on her excellent achievements!

Here is a Q & A with Janet.

What is your teaching philosophy?

As an educator, it is my belief that student learning goes beyond the classroom and beyond the content. Learning is a lifelong journey of experiences, knowledge, and connections. It is my job as an educator to foster this journey with compassion, empathy, and relationship to meet the individual needs of my students. In my classroom, community building is important because it creates ways for students to become critical problem solvers in authentic world issues. It is when I teach the importance of critically reflecting on personal biases or the awareness of systematic power relations that real change may occur within the students and the world. It is also important for me to critically reflect on my own practice. I do this by analyzing personal biases and behaviors and asking how those might add to the systematic issues of the world. This is a particular goal of mine to not only analyze my own practice, but purposely change areas of concern in my practice. I do this through weekly journaling of my teaching practice and making notes for change in the following week. In my teaching, I encourage all students to engage in beyond the classroom application of content. This is accomplished through feedback and differentiation. It is important for me to come alongside each student and acknowledge competence by recognizing that each student brings value and can learn. It is also important for my students to realize that they are agents of change. Not only are they valued, but they are also needed for change to happen. It is important for me to continue to give students ownership over their own learning. This is done through instructional design that allows for me to guide and scaffold instruction, while students take primary ownership of their own learning, and this takes practice and intentionality. I believe that theory and practice should be integrated into best teaching practices and thus my philosophy. This is something that is a continual effort to research current theories and apply best practices. The link to theory and practice comes after considering one’s own belief and building on what you know. Lastly, it is my teaching philosophy to bring joy to my teaching. As an educator, it is important to share with my students my compassion for the profession of education. The joy of teaching for me is that I can facilitate education and learning to all students and by doing so, add value to each of them as well as society.

What courses have you taught here at Ball State?

I mostly teach college juniors and seniors in the Department of Elementary Education. The courses are generally practicums where pre-service teachers go into local schools to work with mentor teachers in the field.

What do you enjoy most about teaching?

I enjoy the relationships that I have developed with my students. I believe in each student and what they can bring into the classroom. I also love the aha moments of teaching. Those moments when students realize what they are doing has meaning and purpose.

What brought you to Ball State University?

Janet Jenkins

I am from the Muncie area, originally. Ball State is where I received my undergraduate and Master’s degree. It was a no brainer for me to look at Ball State for my PhD. I am currently enrolled in the doctoral program for elementary education. The teacher’s college is like family to me. The professors care and want to help in any way to help me pursue my goals and dreams.

Anything else you would like us to know?

I want to really thank my students for this award. I would not be the teacher I am without them. My students are the ones who make me better!

What are your future goals/career goals?

My dream is to continue to teach pre-service teachers to be highly qualified, professional teachers. I believe creating high impact practices for pre-service teachers is one way to do this. High impact practices may include study abroad, community involvement, or research opportunities. Another area I am passionate about is research. I believe that research can drive instruction. I hope to include more research in my practice.

What is next for you after you graduate from Ball State?

I would like to continue at Ball State as an instructor in the Department of Elementary Education.