The Teaching & Learning Center at Mountain View College seeks to share teaching practices across the entire institution. The following article showcases a faculty member, provides insight into the environment they’ve created for MVC students, and demonstrates effective teaching practices.
This month we showcase Shelley Ford, MSN, RN, Nursing Professor.
What is one element about MVC that makes it the “best college on earth?”
I love the community at MVC, and I love our diversity. I guess those are two elements. But I think they are both so important, and two of the reasons I’m so proud to work at Mountain View. The faculty and staff show great pride in their work and remain strong advocates for our students. Our differences, both as employees and students, make us stronger and help us strive toward excellence in all we do.
How would your students describe you or your teaching style?
I think my students would describe me as outgoing and friendly, but tough. I take the job of training future registered nurses very seriously, and I hold our MVC nursing students up to the highest standards. My teaching style is interactive, and I do everything I can to make the classroom an open environment. As a nursing professor, we teach in several different settings – theory lecture in the classroom, skills courses in the simulation lab, and clinical practice at the hospital. In all of the environments, I ask a lot of questions and encourage student participation.
What teaching strategies do you find most successful in your courses?
I believe open dialogues are important. When a student comes to me asking for help with their course work, I try to start the conversation with listening and understanding what they’re doing on their own and then offer advice to assist their progress. When I teach in the classroom, I walk around a lot to show the students that I am engaged in their learning and not just reading off a slide or directly from the book. In all of my teaching environments, I ask questions to allow students to use their critical thinking skills before just giving them the right answer. As future nurses, they need to know how to find the solution using the tools they’ve been taught. I believe it is my job to give them those tools, along with teaching the critical thinking skills they will use for the rest of their careers.
What do your students love most about your courses?
As a nursing professor, I am blessed to teach students in small groups (as mandated by the state board of nursing), so I get the privilege of getting to know our students very well over the 2 years they are in our program. I think my students like my level of engagement and the passion for nursing I display in my teaching. All of our nursing courses are very difficult, but I try to remain personal and approachable to help assist all students during one of the most stressful periods of their lives. I use a lot of examples from nursing practice and make the material presented in all of our teaching environments relatable. I make sure the students know I remember what it was like to be a nursing student myself, and therefore, I will do everything I can to help them be successful within the policies of our program.
What is one creative solution you’ve implemented to address a specific challenge in your courses?
Nursing requires a lot of hands-on learning. During my time here at MVC, I have worked directly with the dean and other faculty members to revise and update many of our courses. We have changed aspects of our curriculum to ensure students are up, moving around, and engaged with active learning in the skills & simulation lab, instead of sitting and listening to a lecture. We have worked hard to maximize their time during skills and on-campus clinical courses to give them as much active practice as possible, so they are fully equipped to take care of real patients in the hospital clinical settings.
What has been your most positive or rewarding teaching experience?
Nursing Pinning is my favorite day of the school year. I am the faculty member in charge of pinning each year, and I love working with the graduating students to plan their big day. Pinning is a worldwide nursing tradition that goes back centuries. I love getting to celebrate with our graduates and their families. Watching them walk across the stage to receive their MVC nursing pin brings me such joy and pride. All of their hard work has paid off, and we get to celebrate their extraordinary accomplishments.
What advice would you give to a new faculty member at MVC?
Give yourself some grace as you begin teaching at MVC. Whether you’re new to teaching or just new to our institution, there is always a learning curve. Don’t be afraid to ask for help (lots of help!), advice, and guidance as you acclimate to your new position. Get to know your coworkers – they are invaluable resources. Remain firm with students, but humble. Practice consistency in the classroom, which students appreciate and respect, but don’t forget to also practice compassion. Learn from your mistakes and implement guidelines to prevent the same mistakes from happening again next semester.
Who is one person at MVC who has been instrumental to your success (and why)?
Without a doubt, it is Cherlyn Shultz-Ruth, Dean of Allied Health/Nursing. When I started at MVC, she was still a full-time professor at El Centro and serving as an adjunct at MVC. She spent extra time with me during my first semester teaching me how to use Blackboard and other ways to enhance my teaching skills. After coming to MVC full-time, we served as faculty coordinators together, and I learned so much watching how she taught with clarity, intelligence, and passion. Once she was appointed Dean, she has thrived in the role, and I am proud to serve under her leadership. She is a huge student advocate, loves nursing, and is committed to graduating qualified, compassionate, MVC-strong nurses.