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Past Winners of the Teacher of the Week

Laura Farmer

   

The Center for Instructional Development and Educational Research (CIDER) recognizes Laura Farmer, assistant professor of School of Education , for her contributions in teaching, supervising, and mentoring counselor education students. Dr. Farmer’s professional career began as a counselor serving children and adults. Through this work, she learned that the ability to know oneself and remain authentic is critical to one’s therapeutic effectiveness. Now, as a counselor educator and faculty member at Virginia Tech, Dr. Farmer’s teaching style in the classroom also reflects authenticity, which results in her transparency and approachability as an instructor.

Through a constructivist approach, Dr. Farmer empowers students by involving them in the learning process. She views students as co-constructors of knowledge who bring their own personal experiences and expertise to the classroom. Through her teaching style, Dr. Farmer aims to equalize the power differential that may naturally exist in the classroom. She states, “While acknowledging the power inherent in my role, I strive to empower the voices of students. Initially, this style of teaching may feel unfamiliar or even uncomfortable for students who are still developing and may prefer an ‘expert’ who will provide them with answers to problems. However, one of the more rewarding aspects of being a counselor educator is being part of a developmental journey with students; one that involves struggling with the ambiguities of life, experiencing safety and support through the learning environment, and encouraging students to actively question and seek their own answers.”

Dr. Farmer teaches Theories and Techniques of Counseling and Consultation, a course that builds the foundation for what it means to be a counselor, establishes a knowledge base of theories and techniques, and sets the stage for students to begin an ongoing process of introspection and self-examination, which in turn impacts their ability to be self-aware as professional counselors. In the following semester, Dr. Farmer teaches the Practicum course, “where we take off the training wheels and launch students into their first real life counseling experiences.” This course involves close supervision of students as they put their skills into practice and begin developing a professional identity. Dr. Farmer also teaches Expressive and Experiential Techniques in Counseling, which focuses on creative and non-verbal interventions with clients. In the doctoral curriculum, Dr. Farmer teaches Leadership, Ethics, and Advocacy Issues in Counselor Education. The primary focus of this course is on developing students’ leadership abilities and advocacy initiative at the doctoral level. The course involves the complex consideration of ethical principles applied as counselor educators, faculty, and clinical supervisors. Dr. Farmer reflects, “As a student-centered teacher, it is deeply gratifying to be a part of each student’s development at critical stages of professional identity formation.”

Through The Impact Project (https://www.counseling.org/impactproject), a national social media campaign that aims to publicly honor people who have made a positive impact on others, several students chose to highlight Dr. Farmer’s impact on their lives:
“Your unconditional support has allowed me to grow in significant and personal ways. Thank you for your passion and commitment.”
“Your insight and support through this process is so appreciated.”
“Your positivity and belief in us as students is empowering and means so much.”

Homepage: https://www.soe.vt.edu/counselored/Faculty_and_Staff/Farmer.html





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