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Assistant Professor of Education Helps Students Master 'Art and Science of Teaching'

Joe Anson is an Assistant Professor in the Teacher Education Program at Bellevue University. The program recently received formal approval of its Secondary Teacher Education Program endorsement programs from the Nebraska State Board of Education.

What is your favorite thing about working at Bellevue University?

I love working with great people—faculty and students—as we create something new. Building a program to serve future and current teachers is fun as well as work.

What does Bellevue University mean to you?

BU is a place where students have opportunities to come together as a small community either in person or virtually in order to improve one’s self through education. It is a place to gain or sharpen skills that translate into authentic work opportunities. It is a place to collaborate in order to create a better world.

I know the teacher education program at Bellevue University is just a few years old, but that you're not new to education. Can you tell me your experience as either a practicing teacher or as an educator preparing future teachers?

I worked in public education at Spanish Fork Jr. High (Spanish Fork, Utah) for 18+ years. My assignments focused on teaching English Language Arts grades 7-9, including honors and inclusion classes. I also taught creative writing, public speaking, ESL, novel writing, sci-fi and fantasy lit, and Spanish I. My duties also included mentoring new teachers. During this time, I also shepherded 12 student teachers and countless practicum students.

In addition to my employment in public schools, I taught 12th grade English online for BYU Independent Study for 10 years. I also worked at the Nebo School District migrant summer school for nine years. I also worked as an adjunct, teaching English Composition classes at Utah Valley University. I have also worked as a teacher-consultant with the Central Utah Writing Project since 2010, where I worked on various projects to promote the improvement of the teaching of writing.

I know you love baseball and have absorbed a lot about it over your lifetime. What, if anything, do baseball and education have in common?

I could expound this metaphor in multiple directions with this one; however, I’ll be brief. With education and baseball, the season is long. You need to build your team for the long-term results, not just the here and now. A manager or teacher needs to know the students/players. And it’s those relationships—knowing the strengths and weaknesses of each individual--that set the tone for the success or failure of the team regardless of the win/loss record at the end of the year. Every individual might have time to shine, but it’s the team effort that makes or breaks the whole.

What have you learned over years of experience in preparing teachers?

First, learning is an individual experience done in a social setting. Everyone learns a little differently. In order for a teacher to be most effective, he/she needs to build relationships—with students, with colleagues, parents, administrators, and the community. If the relationships are solid, effective teaching and learning can happen regardless of other factors. Teachers also need to keep learning for themselves and passionately practice their content area.

Can you give people outside the teaching profession an idea of the depth of preparation that goes into preparing and educating teachers to be in the classroom? A teacher has to learn both the art and the science of teaching. It is both content mastery and occupation mastery. It’s like doing two (or 17) jobs at once.

Goals moving forward that you would like to share

My teaching goals are to become the best teacher I can be for my students; to keep learning and growing as a teacher and as a student.

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