Certificate in Faculty Preparation Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Shannon Morago

Shannon Morago

Please tell us about yourself. 

I am a long time teacher and learner. I spent 23 years teaching science and math at the high school level. I also worked in rural elementary schools as an instructional coach. I loved my career as a high school teacher, and really miss hanging out with kids! I do get to see and chat with many former students at HSU, and some I've even had again as they become teachers themselves. For the last 14 years I have been teaching at HSU in teacher preparation. Most of my students I teach at the university have at least a bachelor's degree so I learn a lot about the higher educational background of these students. This helps inform how I can work with students in the CFP program. Personally, I grew up in rural Oregon. I'm the daughter of an immigrant and a father who was Native American. I was a first generation college student, but my mother now has a Master's Degree! My favorite place is outside, anywhere in the forest or on the beach or in the mountains.

What led you to become part of the faculty in the Certificate in Faculty Preparation program?

Some years ago I was doing research on why or why not undergraduates chose to pursue teaching. In interviews I saw a theme from many of the participants -- they felt there were a lot of learning opportunities left on the table in their undergraduate degrees. As they learned about teaching, they recognized they had many college courses where they could have learned a lot more. They were attentive, motivated, and highly interested students, but the ways that knowledge, skills and dispositions were presented to them in many of these courses were fairly ineffective at providing deep, enduring, or significant opportunities to learn. They felt as if they had missed out, as the courses often focused on lecture and memorization. Even in lab classes they were often following a set of directions similar to a recipe. There was always a "right" answer and little room to develop their own ideas. From these interviews I often wondered if there were ways to support content experts (i.e. college professors/instructors) to provide more robust learning opportunities. Unfortunately every undergraduate I interviewed described courses that were structured like this. When I heard about the CFP program, it seemed like an amazing way to support higher education faculty. 

What can you tell us about the students in the Certificate in Faculty Preparation program?

Like all cohorts, they are diverse! There are those who work in fire science, epidemiology, English, construction technology, mathematics, criminology, counseling, human resources, leadership, physics -- the list goes on! Students in the program come from around the world -- including Jamaica, Japan, and right here in Humboldt County. One thing they all have in common is that they want to provide deep learning opportunities for students in their discipline. The students in the Certificate in Faculty Preparation program are always collegial, engaged, and usually professionals in their field. Some are at the very beginning of their careers, and others have years of experience. All are highly motivated to learn. It's an amazing group to work with!

How have you seen students’ lives impacted by completion of the Certificate in Faculty Preparation program?

I am fortunate enough to teach the last course in the program (as well as the second). This is where a lot of the thinking/learning come together in the final project. The project includes videotaping and analyzing your teaching. Often this is where students authentically reflect on how they've put together the knowledge, skills, and dispositions to create a course, a lesson, and a learning environment that reflects their students' needs. So many Certificate in Faculty Preparation students report that they weren't even aware at the beginning of the program how different they would think about teaching by the end. They are able to analyze their teaching in depth. I think this surprises them. Many go back into the classroom with a new way of seeing their students, and their role as an instructor.

What have you learned from the students in the Certificate in Faculty Preparation program?

It is thrilling to work with students who are content experts and professionals in such diverse fields. I have learned more about their disciplines, and the specific ways that professors and instructors interact with their students in certain content areas. It's fascinating to learn about the subjects each student (instructors/future instructors) are experts in! Also, working with students from other areas around the world has given me a glimpse into the higher education systems across the globe, which has been so amazing.