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Professor Johnson attends teaching conference

George Johnson

Professor George Johnson

How did you spend your summer vacation? While some educators take the opportunity to relax, vacation or do projects around home, longtime Marshalltown Community College Professor George Johnson attended a conference for teaching professionals and continues to log many office hours updating his course materials and curriculum. It’s not a typical faculty summer story, but then Professor Johnson has never been a typical college professor.

“I’ve been teaching a long time, so I almost didn’t apply for the conference because I wanted to give some of the newer faculty the opportunity,” says Johnson. “MCC has funding for this kind of professional development through the Martha-Ellen Tye Excellence Development Program, but it’s been a few years since I attended. I learned that there was money available, so I applied and received the funds to participate. I think this shows that MCC truly supports its faculty and staff, no matter how long they’ve been here. From my standpoint, there’s always so much more to learn!”

The St. Louis event included a seminar on how to keep current with today’s students, which Johnson says he found especially helpful. The opportunity to network with more than 1,000 professors from 49 states and 11 countries was also an invaluable part of the summer conference experience.

“Many faculty attend these events for the same reason I did … to get re-energized and to bring back new ideas for the classroom,” says Johnson. “Most of the seminars dealt with ways to get students more engaged and involved in the learning process. For me, a key takeaway was that it’s not rocket science but more about getting back to basics and human relations. There are so many simple things we can do to increase engagement in the classroom.”

Johnson participated in nine sessions during a day and a half, but his favorites were those entitled “Teaching with Vigor” and “Fostering Grit to Increase Student Success.” The Vigor session was taught by a couple in their 70s who displayed an amazing and inspiring energy and enthusiasm for education.  The couple encouraged participants to always try new things, and to throw out tools and techniques that don’t work. The Fostering Grit session provided techniques for helping students develop a perseverance and passion for achieving their own personal long-term goals.

“Every seminar topic blended with the others for an effective overall impression and message,” said Johnson, who will share what he learned with MCC colleagues once they return to campus in August. “I believe in this kind of stuff, in staying energized and always learning. What I enjoy the most is not so much focused on the discipline of Business, which I teach, but on the discipline of teaching, which is my passion. I always come away from these kinds of events with excitement, even at my age. I can still learn!”

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