Loving learning, loving students: Jo Anne McAdams ’84, ’87 M.A., ’96 Ed.D.

Job: IU’s coordinator of sophomore and junior field experiences, placing students in observation sites at educational and special education institutions in urban and suburban areas.

Fun facts: I was the first person to obtain all three degrees—baccalaureate, master’s, and doctoral—from Immaculata, taking classes part-time for 19 years straight. My daughter and I both graduated with our bachelor’s degrees in 1984.

A favorite teacher: Sister M. Lalande was an impelling force in my education. She would register you for classes and then tell you (not ask you) what you were taking!

Some things she teaches: In my Multicultural Education class, students study different cultures and present about them. It is the teacher’s obligation to make every student feel valued and respected. This can be achieved by encouraging interaction with other students, by engaging the student in discussions, and by organizing “culture days” to give students insights into the various cultures of their classmates.

Favorite book: I love The Velveteen Rabbit, and it’s my granddaughter’s favorite book, too. My parents read to me and my brother growing up, and I read to my children and grandchildren.

Creative learning activities: I observed one of my student-teachers leading a math game with her second-graders to help them prepare for a test. Students split up into two teams, and two students from each team had to answer a math question. Whoever hit the buzzer first and got the right answer won a point. The winning team members got a piece of candy. The message was, “Learning is fun!”
My student-teacher also made a contract with them to help them behave properly when they went to Mass. As a class, they made a list: “When we go to church, I will…” They all signed their names, promising to follow the rules they made for themselves.

Anecdotes she uses when she’s teaching: The day the deaf parents came to conference and the sign language teacher did not. We had to have the conference, so we wrote notes back and forth. Be prepared!

Best teaching advice: My sister-in-law, an IHM Sister, says, “The best thing you can do for your students is to love them.” Yes, some people are hard to love, but a teacher must make a concerted effort. Personally, when I am in this position, I think, “This child is some parent’s prize possession.” In looking at that child, I think of him/her as a child of God who is worthy of my very best efforts.
I have met many students at various levels who blossomed with a little extra attention. One of my college students lacked confidence, and I encouraged her to present her mini-lesson to me prior to her presentation in class. We discussed it and made a few changes, and her presentation went well. We did this a few times, and she was less apprehensive each time. Eventually she was able to present on her own.

Most rewarding thing about teaching? I am still in contact with many of my former students. I’ve attended their weddings, babies’ christenings, etc. It is very rewarding to see them as fully functioning adults. It is so humbling to think I had a small part in helping them realize their full potential. That “a-ha” moment is priceless.

Author: aduncan

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