Teacher of the Week - Gretchen Thomas
Instructor, Department of Career and Information Studies
“Appreciate the newness”
The Center for Teaching and Learning recognizes Gretchen Thomas as CTL Teacher of the Week. Thomas is an Instructor, in the Department of Career and Information Studies (Learning, Design, and Technology) in the College of Education.e of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.
When Gretchen Thomas came to UGA as an undergraduate in 1990, teaching was the very last thing she ever thought she would do. Now, she can’t imagine doing anything else. Thomas has learned to appreciate the newness found throughout her professional experiences—the start of a new semester, a new group of faces, ever-changing course content, new teaching and learning technologies, and opportunities to try new things.
One of the new things in Thomas’ classrooms is vibrant service learning components that inspire students to engage deeply with their course content. With the help of the Office of Service Learning and the support of her department, Thomas embeds service learning in all of the courses she teaches. The Discovery Dawgs program has given Thomas the opportunity to work with students from across campus and with elementary and middle school students around Northeast Georgia. She always assumed education majors enjoyed working with children but she has been amazed at the number of students from Business, Journalism, and other majors that appreciate the chance to work with kids.
Thomas attributes her success in the classroom to incredible teachers and the good fortune to work alongside colleagues who care about student learning. Observing others and how they care for their students has made a huge impact on Thomas’ teaching. Her coworkers have always been supportive and made sure Thomas always had the liberty to try new things in her instruction. Thomas also attributes her success to an amazing group of graduate teaching assistants who constantly surprise her with creative teaching ideas and heartening dedication to their students.
Thomas believes relationships are the most important part of the teaching and learning experience. Her students matter to her and she is driven to make what happens in their shared classroom really matter to them. Thomas confessed, “if they end up calling me ‘mom’ at least once during the semester, I don’t consider that a bad thing.” A recent UGA alumna, Victoria Brickenden describes Thomas’ relationships with students as one centered on student success and development: “She goes above and beyond to help her students (past and present) every day in capacities that far exceed the classes she teaches. Her mentorship is one of my greatest takeaways from my time at UGA.”
See Thomas’ departmental profile: http://www.coe.uga.edu/directory/profiles/gbthomas