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Past Winners of the Teacher of the Week

Matthew F. Komelski

   

The Center for Instructional Development and Educational Research (CIDER) recognizes Matthew F. Komelski, instructor of Human Development, for his dedication to meaningful student-centered learning that engages students both in his courses and in the larger community.

Dr. Komelski has supported the teaching mission of Virginia Tech’s Department of Human Development as an adjunct instructor since 2010 and full-time instructor since 2012. Dr. Komelski currently facilitates a wide range of courses. He regularly teaches large introductory CLE sections of Child and Adult Development (HD1004 & 2004); skill-building courses, such as Principles of Human Services (HD2335); writing and collaboration-intensive courses, such as Research Methods (HD3014); and the Senior Capstone Seminar (HD4714). Dr. Komelski’s teaching approach reflects his educational background as both an artist and a scientist. As a scientist, he seeks to understand the cognitive, emotional, and social processes that ignite or inhibit learning, and to find reliable methods for evaluating course outcomes. His background in the arts has led him to view every encounter with a student as a fleeting interaction, a singular opportunity to facilitate growth in that student’s attitude, skills, and knowledge.

He also regularly reads emerging research on teaching and learning and finds inspiration for innovation through First-Year Experience seminars and brownbag lunches with peers, as well as conversations with students about their best and worst classroom experiences. Through these exposures, Dr. Komelski has distilled three propositions about education that guide his course design, delivery, and evaluation: 1) education is most effective when it is learner-centered; 2) education should increase students’ competence and value to themselves and society; and 3) education should help students find meaning and purpose in a larger world.

For Dr. Komelski, these propositions are not lofty ideals, but practical guideposts that help him plan courses, engage students and evaluate his performance. For instance, in preparing courses, he challenges himself to be student-centered, to find ways to make content engaging and meaningful to students’ lives, and to foster safe and respectful environments that facilitate students’ efforts to discover, pursue, and achieve their educational goals. He attempts his second goal, to increase student competence and value, through project-based learning assignments that require communication, teamwork, and respect for diversity. Lastly, whenever possible, he structures opportunities into the semester that will allow students to experience professional, meaningful, and rewarding service to a larger community. He has accomplished this in small classes through collaborations with local elementary schools and human service agencies. In larger CLE classes, students have also participated in meaningful service to others through social media projects that raise community awareness of issues that can threaten or support health and wellbeing.

Dr. Komelski’s energy and enthusiasm for teaching is an extension of his personal belief that sharing knowledge, promoting inquiry, and broadening students’ appreciation of diversity represents humanity’s hope for the best possible future. Thus, he feels very fortunate to facilitate learning and growth in Virginia Tech students, who are the future leaders of tomorrow. With professional attitudes, valued skillsets, and disciplinary knowledge, they can do more than just invent the future; they can create the future with service to others in mind.

Since beginning his full-time position in 2012, Dr. Komelski received the Excellence in Access and Inclusion Award from the Services for Students with Disabilities Office and the Office for Diversity and Inclusion. His is also a three-time Favorite Faculty Award recipient from Housing and Residence Life at Virginia Tech

In a recent letter of support two graduate students who apprenticed to teach with Dr. Komelski wrote:

"We have been privileged to work alongside Dr. Komelski as teaching apprentices for two undergraduate courses, observing his strengths-based approach to student learning and an emphasis on translational pedagogy. Dr. Komelski’s empathy for his students and his encouragement of their personal growth demonstrates a dedication to providing education that transcends the classroom environment. His instruction is creative and contributes to making his students not only better learners, but also better people."

Homepage: http://liberalarts.vt.edu/faculty-directory/human-development-faculty/matthew-komelski.html





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