Building knowledge. Building community
Stritch faculty actively engage in a variety of scholarly work in addition to their in classroom teaching duties. Students benefit when learning from professors who author text books, research current issues and engage with faculty from other institutions to conduct and present research that advance knowledge in their areas of expertise.
Stritch faculty are committed our students and to service in the communities where they live, work, serve and lead.
Dr. Clavon Byrd, '02, '09
Associate Professor, Kellner College of Education, Literacy and Leadership
Take a second and think about the best teacher you’ve ever had. What kind of characteristics come to mind? Odds are you thought of descriptors like approachable, calm, caring or kind. Odds are you didn’t think of their subject matter proficiency.
This is a thought experiment that Dr. Clavon Byrd, ’02, ’09, does both with the Stritch students in his own classes and with the teachers he interacts with when giving educator development presentations.
“There are regulations in place in every state in the country that require teachers to know the content they’re teaching,” Byrd says. “But there isn’t anything that mandates a teacher have a heart.”
It’s paramount for students to feel seen, loved and cared for in the classroom. You could have the most knowledgeable person in front of the classroom, but that doesn’t mean anything if they don’t make an effort to build a sense of community or trust with their students.
“All good relationships are built on trust and feeling seen,” Byrd says. “For example, if I don’t think a mechanic has my best interests at heart, I’m going to take my business elsewhere. Same thing with any sales representative on a big purchase, if I don’t feel like they care about me, if I don’t feel seen, then I’m going somewhere else. Students can’t physically leave, but they can and do check out mentally.”
Reaching out and getting to know students personally doesn’t just help build trust, it also helps educators do their job better. Is a student a visual or auditory learner? Or are they a kinesthetic (learn by touch) learner? Knowing these learning profiles fosters an environment for learning.
“Simply asking them what they need and what they need from me goes a long way in strengthening that relationship,” Byrd says.
Another way to strengthen relationships with students? Communicate with their families.
Studies show that for every negative communication, there have to be five to 10 affirming communications to offset the negative one. Tools like newsletters, classroom social media and phone calls can go a long way toward building community. Getting students to care about each other is also a vital technique for building community. Teambuilding exercises have a place in the classroom and should be as frequent as possible.
Educators prepared at Stritch take these lessons into their own classrooms because they’ve experienced it themselves as students at Stritch. Stritch offers programs for undergraduate students that want to become teachers, professional development for current teachers to improve their skillset and a program for graduate students that allows individuals with degrees in fields other than education to earn their teaching license in as little as 18 months.
Explore some of the many books authored by Stritch faculty and leadership.
Research and Publication
Advancing knowledge drives our faculty across a variety of disciplines. Explore the contributions they are making to our world.