Beth Tolley, clinical associate professor in the department of educational theory and practice, was one of five University of Georgia faculty members honored with a 2017 First-Year Odyssey Teaching Award during the university's fourth annual awards reception celebrating the continued success of the First-Year Odyssey Seminar (FYOS) program.
Administered by the Office of the Vice President for Instruction, the FYO Teaching Awards recognize outstanding instructors who have demonstrated innovation in instruction, connection of seminar content to their research and incorporation of FYOS program goals into their seminar.
"As clinical faculty, teaching is the larger part of my academic assignment, so to be recognized in this capacity is very rewarding and fulfilling," said Tolley, who also serves as a professor-in-residence at Fowler Drive Elementary School. "Helping students progress from point A to point B and helping them make sense of their place in the world can be challenging, but they deserve nothing less from me as their instructor."
Tolley's course "So, You Think You Want to Teach?" is geared toward students interested in learning more about the teaching profession and offers opportunities for inquisition and introspection in deciding on a career in teaching.
Students are asked to compare qualities of their past influential teachers with themselves and have conversations not only with Tolley, but also with senior education majors, children and former teachers. In addition to engaging the community around them, students are required to produce a digital storytelling project at the end of the semester to document their teaching career progress.
By fully engaging her students, Tolley can provide them with a strong connection to the university, while tying her curriculum directly to FYOS program goals.
"Even though my FYO course focuses on becoming a teacher, I find that I spend a great deal of time helping my students adjust to college life and helping them make sense of the responsibilities and opportunities available to them," she said.