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Center for Teaching Excellence

East Tennessee State University

  Logo for the Center for Teaching Excellence





Welcome to the Center for Teaching Excellence

The purpose of the Center for Teaching Excellence is to promote excellence in teaching at ETSU by providing instructional development opportunities for faculty, serving as a "one-stop shop" for teaching resources, and creating communities of practice among faculty. I invite you to read more about the goals for the center and to get involved in our work.  Please  if you have ideas about programming, want to nominate a teacher to be featured on our website, or if you want to contribute the resources available on the site.  We're looking forward to a great inaugural year and to growing the instructional development services we offer.

The Center is located in room 441 in the Sherrod Library. The faculty lounge and book collection is open weekdays during business hours.

Featured Teacher: Lori Meier

Lori Meier

Lori Meier is the 2019 recipient of the University’s Distinguished Faculty Award for Teaching. This may be the most prestigious but is not the first award Lori has won since she began teaching at ETSU in 2008. She also been honored with Clemmer College Outstanding Faculty Teaching Award (2015) and the Clemmer College Diversity Award (2018). So what does a day in the class of such an innovative educator look like? 

As a teacher who teaches teachers, Lori Meier knows the importance of engaging students from the very beginning of their studies with her. Whether teaching online or on-ground, authentic engagement begins with sharing her passion for teaching and learning. One class that has always had a special place in her heart is Social Studies Education in Multicultural Society. Not only is the content central to her scholarly and civic concerns, she also finds the class to be an ideal opportunity to model the kind of engaged pedagogy which is central to her overall approach to teaching and learning. She believes classrooms should be places of intellectual excitement where everyone is valued and their stories honored, where curiosity is championed and teachers and students interactively learn with and from each other. While engaging students in the scholarly knowledge base of teaching elementary history, geography, political science, and economics Lori's classes also spend a great deal of time discussing engaged pedagogies for elementary learners.


Such a pedagogy involves sparking curiosity and encouraging autonomy in students. “I feel really strongly that students need opportunities to explore what they are interested in learning.” She has found that one of the best ways to get students interested in their own learning is to embrace her inner nerd, follow her own curiosity and invite them to come along for the ride. Along the way, they catch on and start finding out where their personal interests lie and how they can tie these interests into their own studies. “I’ve learned that when I’m enthusiastic about an idea or topic, that my students will often follow alongside me with this contagious zeal too -- so that has taught me that it is okay for me to be myself and to be ‘contagiously nerdy’ about all things in the world.” 
Engaging students also means getting to know them more personally and taking an interest in what is happening in their lives inside and outside of the classroom. She does a “morning meeting” check-in activity in which students report not just on their academic progress but also personal insights and challenges they may have. While maintaining standards and rigor, she has discovered that flexibility goes right along with autonomy. This applies equally well to online classes where she encourages students to participate in innovative and virtual classroom conversations using virtual FlipGrid video messaging to more personally connect with students.  
Beyond the care and attention she gives to them, perhaps what attracts so many students to Lori’s classes is her critical perspective that education is and should be transformative. With education in crisis in so many ways, Lori feels responsible to prepare students for the difficult realities they will face as teachers, but she also encourages students to imagine and consider the way schools should and could be rather than just the ways that they currently are. “I often ask my students to consider the overall purposes of schooling, debate what and whose knowledge is of most worth, and examine power relationships in the American educational system.”

Lori’s scholarship also reflects and models the many modes of her engaged pedagogy. For example, a recent paper presentation, Reclaiming Intellectual Work with Pre-service Elementary Educators through Curriculum Studies, spoke specifically to the value of curriculum studies to undergraduate students with examples from her own classroom. Several of her publications include co-authorship with ETSU undergraduate students as she sought to teach them about scholarship in education by working together through various teaching projects. Her wide-ranging interests have also nearly led her out of this world as seen with her volunteer work in partnership with the NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador group, which has proved to be an ideal way to merge her love of space exploration with social studies.

Lori is also an innovator not just with pedagogy but also when it comes to other elements of course design such as textbooks and materials. Among her many other awards, she is also a recipient of the first round of OER Awards in which she is replacing costly textbooks with open and affordable materials. Not only will this save money for her students, it goes right along with her notions of open and engaged pedagogy because she can select readings and content more closely related to the contours of the class as it evolves over the semester. 

 By Phil Smith

The Center for Teaching Excellence will feature a different faculty member each month.  If you'd like to nominate a teacher to be featured on the site, contact .

See past featured teachers here.

Teaching Essentials Workshop Series Fall 2019

This four-part workshop series is designed to offer faculty basic tools for university teaching. Each essential was developed from an extensive literature review of the scholarship of teaching and learning. Faculty who complete all four parts of the series will receive a certificate and a digital badge. This series may be particularly useful for new or junior faculty. Registration is required.

Community of Learners, Sept 9 @2:00 pm

Respect for Students, Sept 23 @2:00 pm

Feedback Early and Often, Oct 22 @2:00 pm

Active and Collaborative Learning, Nov 5 @2:00 pm




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