A spotlight interview with Victoria Fedorets (VF) and Marietta Bradinova (MB)
Listen to the full interview here: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/sedatviu/2017/08/22/dr-marietta-bradinova-for-the-spotlight-interview-for-voices-from-the-field
Below is a transcript of the interview:
Victoria Fedorets (VF): We would like to welcome our guest speaker, Dr. Marietta Bradinova for our Spotlight interview prior to her talk on October 5th, 3:30 pm to 4:30 pm. Could you give us a brief preview of your talk?
Marietta Bradinova (MB): The title of my talk is going to be Engaged Learning: Are We All on the Same Page? To do that, I pulled from the literature on good teaching as well as the expertise of teachers in colleges and universities around the country. For my presentation, I had to create a compendium of useful, practical ideas that participants will find enhances the classroom experience for teachers and students alike. My goal is to pull it together into a single resource and present it in a format accessible to busy, discipline-oriented faculty. I hope it will also be useful to faculty developers, department chairs, and other academic administrators interested in promoting teaching and improving learning.
VF: Thank you so much, Dr. Bradinova. We all are very much looking forward to your talk. Could you please tell us a little about yourself, including how the topic of your talk is important to you.
MB: My name is Dr. Marietta Bradinova and I teach various courses in the MA in TESOL and Gen. Education Programs at VIU. I chose my field of scholarly endeavor because somewhere along the line I developed a passion for it. Part of the attraction of a career in academia is the opportunity to share our enthusiasm with others and possibly recruit new disciples to the discipline. In my early years as a college teacher, “engaging students” wasn’t even on my radar screen. I lectured, they listened; they studied, I tested – and that was that. However, it was very disheartening to look into a classroom and see disengaged students who make little effort to hide their apathy. So, keeping students involved, motivated, and actively learning is challenging for many of us as educators. Yet, there is no single piece of advice [to do this]. The primary purpose of my presentation is to offer my teaching colleagues, current and aspiring, a wide variety of tips, strategies, and techniques that can help them transform what could be a daunting task into one that is stimulating and rewarding.
VF: Wonderful. Thank you again for devotion to your field and I am more than sure you went through so many experiences and have gained so much knowledge and expertise to reach this far.
VF: Are there any tangible misconceptions out there about the topic of your talk?
MB: Well, for me and I strongly believe that teaching can be tough, and probably one of the toughest professions on earth, but by sharing, we help each other in the problem analysis and solution construction we struggle with, consciously or unconsciously, each time we enter the classroom and attempt to engage students in learning.
VF: What is your source of motivation? How do you keep yourself motivated?
MB: Well, for me, motivation is the portal to engagement. An unmotivated student has checked out emotionally and mentally from the learning process. Students who are motivated to learn, however, will actively seek the information and understandings that constitute engaged learning. Just as a classroom filled with students who are genuinely motivated to learn can be a teaching-nirvana, it can be teaching-hell trying to work with students who are apathetic, bored, or even hostile. Understanding the complexities that underline motivation can guide us in our efforts to set up conditions that enhance students’ eagerness to learn. This is a first and critical step toward increasing student engagement.
VF: If you had to give some advice to pre-service or in-service teachers about the topic of your talk, what would it be?
MB: As I said earlier, I am trying to provide some practical ideas through various strategists [that] I’m going to model for them throughout my presentation. I strongly believe as an instructor we not only have to explain something about theory, but to show it in action. I would encourage the pre-service teachers to join us on October 5th to get more ideas about how we can engage students in our classrooms.
VF: In general, how do you design instructions so your classroom reflects success? What is success to you?
MB: You know, from day one, when I go into the classroom, I provide lots of examples from my own personal experience and I have been teaching and in this field for 25 plus years. So, I always try to bring real-life examples into my lectures because when you provide examples, the students can relate to them through their personal experience. We always have great conversations because, as you know, VIU hosts students from around the globe. We are fortunate to share ideas with them and they share ideas with us and I’m growing myself professionally through this contacts with my students.
VF: Where do your students come from?
MB: In general, I would say probably between 15 and 20 different countries. You know, I work with students from Asia, from Latin America, from the Europe, from Eastern Europe, from former USSR, and they all amazing.
VF: In general, are there any principles that guide your own teaching philosophy? If so, what are they and do you have a groundstone for your own teaching philosophy?
MB: Well you know, as an instructor, I always try to share whatever I learned through all these years with my students, and as I said, I share my experience. Whatever they read for my classes, we would have great discussions. I try to have classrooms in which the students work cooperatively using both small group discussions and whole group discussions. In a three hour long class, I have to break the time and have at least 10 to 12 activities for the students, and I try to engage them from the moment they enter the class until the moment they have to leave the class.
VF: Wonderful, so your classes are very dynamic and engaging.
MB: (And) they are student centered. I always try to be at the background, of course I’m the one who teaches them, will provide solid information to them either through my mini lectures and through the readings…but those discussions are to be led by the students. [The students] have to be the center of them actually.
VF: Are there any projects that you are currently working on?
MB: Actually, I’m working with Claire Gimble from ESL program on another presentation which is going to be at the WATESOL convention in October in Washington, DC. Our talk is going to be about using TED Talks in the ESL classrooms. We are working with Claire and different setups available on website to design different activities that ESL teachers can use with their students in the classrooms. So, that’s my next big project.
MB: And, of course, you know classes- I will be teaching for both on ground and online, so I will be very busy.
VF: Thank you very much for your time out of your busy schedule to share your experience and more than sure there is so much more to talk and I would spend hours and hours talking (with you) and learning from you. Unfortunately, our time is short thank you again for stopping by tonight by our podcast channel.
Please join us again October 10 at our location 4401 drive Fairfax, VA 22030 and the talk by Dr. Bradinova will be held from 3:30 pm to 4:30 pm and the topic is, “Are We All on the Same Page? The presentation will offer college teachers a dynamic model for engaging students and will provide them with tips and strategies that have been proven to help teachers from a wide variety of disciplines motivate and connect with their students. Selected strategies will be modeled, in a ready-to-use format, through purpose, presentation, procedures, examples, online implementation, variations and extensions, and key resources. Faculty looking for ideas to heighten their student engagement in their courses will find useful techniques that can be adopted, adapted, extended, or modified.
Join us by going to our Facebook, like us; also, we are on twitter, word press, and we’re looking forward to our next spotlight interview by our next speaker sometime in September. Stay tuned and thank you again for your time today, Dr. Bradinova
MB: Thank you.