Our June Teaching Excellence Spotlight awardee is Dr. Jeannette Ginther, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Teacher Education and Administration. Dr. Ginther’s extensive experience as a K-12 educator and her dedication to empowering her students enables her to provide expertise, support, and care to the future educators that she teaches.
“. . . a rare teacher who, despite having upwards of over 100 students, knows each of her students by name and face. In many cases, she also knows details of their lives that they trust sharing with her and that support her in her work as a caring and thoughtful teacher. These details – which she solicits through conversations, dialogue, and feedback forms – allows her to design curriculum that responds to, and emerges from, the students' lived experiences. I have no doubt that the empathy that Dr. Ginther has for her students' challenges and the ways that she celebrates their achievements have much to do with their success at UNT.” – Dr. Tran Templeton, colleague of Dr. Ginther
How long have you been teaching?
This is my 20th year as an educator! I have been a clinical faculty member in the Department of Teacher Education and Administration at UNT for the past 3 years. Prior to that, I served in K-12 public schools for 17 years as a middle school teacher, reading instructional specialist, and a campus professional learning coordinator.
How have you worked on developing your teaching skills?
I regularly seek out feedback from my undergraduate students and encourage them to provide suggestions for instructional activities, projects, service learning experiences, and lessons. I also love observing my colleagues, even those from different departments and colleges, because a fresh perspective is often the best catalyst for innovation!
Did you ever take formal classes or trainings on teaching in graduate school? What about later on in your teaching?
My master's degree is in Literacy Education, and my doctorate is in K-12 Educational Leadership, so I have had extensive training in teaching methods as well as leadership.
What are some of the biggest challenges you have faced teaching, and how did you overcome them?
I personally like to challenge myself to grow as an educator and to consistently look for opportunities to serve my students more effectively. For example, I knew that if I wanted to be the most effective professor for my undergraduate education students, I would need to earn a doctorate. I selected a doctorate in K-12 Educational Leadership because that was an area in which I had very little knowledge, training, and experience, and a lot of room to learn and grow. It was an incredible challenge to earn a doctoral degree while working full time and raising a small child, but I persisted knowing that one day, this knowledge would be used to empower my students to become the best teachers they can possibly be.
How would you describe your approach to teaching?
My approach is to treat my students as human beings above all else. I show them love, care, respect, and compassion on a daily basis. I let them know how important they are to me, how proud I am of the career they have chosen, and how I believe in them and will do whatever it takes to set them up for success. Showing them I care is the cornerstone of my instruction. I believe that people will learn best from someone who sincerely demonstrates love and care.