The Faculty Center for the Advancement of Teaching and Learning

The Mission of the Faculty Center for the Advancement of Teaching and Learning is to develop and support pedagogical initiatives that will provide a distinctive and transformative educational experience for our students.

Welcome to the Faculty Center for the Advancement of Teaching and Learning at Lewis University. Our goal is to help faculty members create a rich and transformative learning environment that provides an engaging and challenging experience for students.

The Center staff members are dedicated to providing faculty with the ability to engage in development activities, to fully integrate innovative technology solutions in the classroom environment and to evaluate student learning, regardless of the modality.

Through personalized support and training, as well as workshops created to introduce new technology and teaching strategies, the Center is dedicated to providing the necessary resources for faculty members to provide a dynamic learning environment for our students.

If you have any questions or have a willingness to lead a workshop in your area of interest or expertise, please do not hesitate to contact us at facultycenter@lewisu.edu.



Assessment

ASSESSMENT

The mission of the Assessment Office is to support the communication and implementation of a cohesive university-wide assessment system for continuous improvement of student learning and institutional effectiveness at Lewis University.

Assessment >>

Faculty Development

FACULTY DEVELOPMENT

The Faculty Development Committee serves as liaisons by providing advisory support and advocating for faculty initiatives that promote professional growth including mentoring, scholarship, and pedagogy that support student success in the spirit of the Lasallian Mission.

Faculty Development >>

Academic Technology

ACADEMIC TECHNOLOGY & INSTRUCTIONAL DESIGN

The Academic Technology Solutions Team focuses on advancing teaching and learning through the development, support and research of technologies related to instructional strategies for faculty and students.

Academic Technology & Instructional Design >>


Faculty Resources



Lewis University is introducing Blackboard Ally.  Ally will assist faculty in producing content that is accessible to all learners.  Blackboard Ally is a course content accessibility plugin that allows instructors to understand and tackle accessibility in a way that benefits all students.

Ally automatically runs all of a course’s documents through an accessibility checklist, searching for common accessibility issues. Using advanced machine learning algorithms, Ally also generates a wide range of alternatives to the instructor’s original document file, such as accessible PDF, Semantic HTML, audio, ePub and electronic Braille.  


Workshops







Staff



Lisa Caldwell
Faculty Development and Support Technologist
caldweli@lewisu.edu
(815) 836-5748

Br. Gustavo Sinco, FSC
Multimedia Support Specialist
sincogu@lewisu.edu
(815) 836-5140

Samantha Kinser
Senior Academic Technologist
skinser@lewisu.edu
(815) 836-5518
     

Joe Jirka
Learning Management System (LMS) Administrator
jirkajo@lewisu.edu
(815) 836-5668

Lee Pedraza
Instructional Design Specialist
lpedraza@lewisu.edu
(815) 836-5708
 


Faculty Spotlight


Dr. Kathleen C. Blanchfield

Dr. Lauren Rentfro

Associate Professor Secondary, Middle Level, & Foreign Language Education
College of Education
Lewis University

The Good Teacher

Walking into the faculty office of Dr. Lauren Rentfro in the College of Education at Lewis University, one can see the culmination of a successful career simply by reading hand-made gifts and notes left by current and former students and colleagues. Decades of sincere gratitude line his walls and bookshelves.

“Thanks for helping me become a gooder teacher [sic]
“No more classroom holiday treats! You’re going to miss us, but we’ll miss you even more!”
“What’s up, Doc….Keep Inspiring, Learning Empowering – Sheila”
“You were a Grand Slam Principal!”

Pointing to one of his many education books, Lauren exclaims “Oh! I invited this author to come speak to my students – she wrote a book called Teaching Can Kill You. It’s about navigating your personal life and teaching life, being good to the people around you and being a genuine good teacher. Our students asked such amazing questions after her presentation that the author wanted us to compile them all and provide feedback for her next book! And I just learned also that she’s an M.A. student here at Lewis! Did I mention that? No wonder she was so good…and so successful!” he says, beaming with pride.

Lauren’s passion for teaching is so palpable that one would assume he had been teaching his entire adult life, but not so. After earning an undergraduate degree in Psychology and a graduate degree in Neurology and Physiology, he found research work interesting, but not something he wanted to do until retirement. One experience working in the private sector did stick with him though, and that was teaching. “Working in an institution, I was responsible for about 20+ patients during an 8-hour shift. I taught small classes – aerobics, current events – all sorts of activities.” When it came time for a career change, Lauren decided to follow his desire to teach – spending 12 years in the classroom teaching Biology and General Science before moving to administrative positions. He explains “I was an assistant principal and then principal for about 10 years, and it was not really me – I missed the classroom.  So, in my last two years as principal, I taught three grad classes in the evenings at NIU, Concordia and St. Francis and found myself enjoying it but could not keep up that schedule because of the different locations I was traveling to. That’s when I found Dorene (Dr. Dorene Huvaere, Program Chair for Secondary, Middle Level, & Foreign Language Education at Lewis) and came to Lewis.”

Among his many accomplishments, it is his participation in bringing the Robert Noyce Scholarship program to Lewis University that is most notable. With a nod to his colleague, he says “this was the brain child of Dorene Huvaere, our program chair, to apply for and bring this opportunity to Lewis students. We created a very diverse steering committee (comprised of program chairs from the sciences/STEM fields) and wrote this grant, submitted it and were awarded $1.5 million, which was remarkable! The goal is to get high-quality science and math teachers into high-needs schools. Right now, we have a phenomenal set of Noyce scholars who have higher expectations and requirements– an example is that they must participate/volunteer in STEM activities. We’ve taken Noyce scholars to STEM fairs, STEM-COM at the College of DuPage and Manufacturing Days at Joliet Junior College. One weekend we were invited by the John G. Shedd Aquarium and were paid to learn how to use the museum as an instructional tool, providing lesson plans, etc.” As always, our Lewis students never disappoint. At the last NSTA (National Science Teachers Association) Conference, Lewis student presentations were so well received, Lauren states that “a professor from Minneapolis approached me and said ‘we have to talk. How does Lewis attract students like this?’ He was shocked that they were not only using academic language, but that their passion for teaching was OBVIOUS. I’m still getting calls,” he says, quite proudly.

When asked how he inspires his students, he firmly believes that “inspiration” is a two-way street in his classroom. He explains it this way: “I believe in my students and I think it is extremely important because by showing confidence in them, you actually pull them forward. I like to watch when they begin to file in their first teaching class; they are hesitant and nervous – as it should be. But as time goes on, I like to watch how they evolve from that first class through the program because you truly see something miraculous – a transformation takes place and the whole person develops. You see their reluctance and insecurity at first, but by the end they are JUST KILLING IT and you can’t help but do the fist-pump, and yell ‘YES!’ because you have seen them work so hard for this moment. That’s what inspires ME. To watch them come to my class holding onto (and working to hold onto) a 4.0 GPA, when they are facing their own struggles at such young ages, while striving to be successful. It makes my problems and complaints seem pretty small.”

Not only are they successful in his class, but it is apparent that Lewis students are already blazing trails in other classrooms. Lauren is constantly “amazed” at their natural research abilities and how they use them. When asked to elaborate, he explains that “our education students are always looking for what’s the next wave or next new teaching strategy they can share with professors and fellow students. And they are constantly on the go apparently because they will send me articles related to teaching or education at all hours of the night. They will ask ‘have you seen this’ or ‘what do you think of that’ or ‘here is a link to a webinar – what do you think?’ One of our students read a research article and reported back to the class that she found it suspect, and so she decided to contact the author. To her surprise, she received an email back with clarification and answers to her questions! I am so proud to see our students digging for information and then sharing it with me and others. They realize the importance of questioning and sharing. Here’s another great example: right now, Illinois has new science standards that have been in place for a few years, but we have no directive on how to implement. So, all 800+ school districts are doing their own thing and our student teachers have been bringing this information back to us so that we can talk about how it was implemented – what worked and didn’t work – and learn how to make plans for the future. I created a shared account for students to upload findings for everyone to see. I see this as breaking out of the silos that tend to develop in education and creating communities to establish communication and comradery in their buildings. Our students are out there creating learning communities.”

When asked what goals he sets for incoming students, he states simply that he wants them to be “good teachers,” but acknowledges that those two words, in his view, encompass quite a bit. “I would like them to be knowledgeable, engaging, critical, transformative, social justice advocates who are multi-culturally sensitive” he explains, but adds that “most importantly, I want them to be caring and conscious of the fact that some else’s child is in their classroom and to treat them with respect and dignity. In the past, I have observed teachers who would ridicule or yell at a kid in a class, making them upset or cry, and this is not the way to introduce young children to classroom learning. I always teach my students to discipline or speak with students privately so they aren’t embarrassed in front of others or the whole class. They should always have high expectations of their students, but also remember that we are all human and deserve respect and dignity.” As it was with John Baptiste de La Salle over 300 years ago, it is clear Dr. Lauren Rentfro is working hard to develop future teachers in the deep, rich tradition of our Catholic and Lasallian heritage of knowledge, fidelity, wisdom, justice and association.

Lisa Caldwell