UW-Madison relies on 2,100 TAs who teach across a variety of disciplines on campus. In recognition, the Graduate School recently announced winners of awards for excellence in teaching, and new this year, instructional continuity during the COVID-19 pandemic. PhD student Liz Premo received an award for excellence in instructional continuity. Below is the excerpt from the announcement:
Liz is a fourth-year PhD student in the School of Social Work. Her research focuses on early childhood development, parent mental health, and family well-being. She is particularly interested in understanding how policies and services can support families during the early childhood years, especially for families experiencing poverty and other structural inequities.
Liz has taught two courses as an independent instructor: Basic Statistics for Social Workers, and Child, Youth, & Family Policies & Services. She is also currently working as a course developer for Social Work 920: Child, Youth, & Family Policies & Services, transitioning the course into an online format for the Part-Time Master of Social Work program.
“The transition to online teaching during the pandemic has required a combination of creativity, technological savviness, and trauma-informed pedagogy,” Liz said. “COVID-19 has underscored the importance of recognizing that students have complex lives outside of the classroom that influence how they engage within the learning environment. This is especially true when teaching in our Part-Time Master of Social Work program, as students are often juggling employment, internship, coursework, and family. Teaching two courses during this time has demonstrated how important it is to create space to authentically connect with one another, and I have learned that technology can offer innovative tools for cultivating that connection. Students learn best when they feel supported in their learning, and through skillful use of technology and genuine care for students, the virtual environment can foster deep connection and learning. Student engagement might look different in the online context, but it still thrives under similar circumstances: a shared sense of community, a collaborative and flexible atmosphere, and an intentionally designed learning environment.”