The Center for Teaching recently welcomed Lisa Kelly as the new Associate Director. Lisa brings to the University of Iowa considerable expertise and experience across an array of disciplines, including scholarly work in theatre pedagogy and social history, and two years managing graduate student professional development at Northwestern University’s Searle Center for Advancing Teaching and Learning. In her new role at Iowa she will be focusing on TA development, launching new opportunities for UI graduate students to hone their teaching skills and professional portfolios.
After earning a BA in Dramatic Arts from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Lisa taught theatre arts and English for four years in a K-12 school in Pamlico County, NC.
“I’ve always been interested in figuring out why people do what they do,” she says, “including how good teachers effectively reach their students.”
That curiosity and her experience as a theatre director sparked “meta-moments” when she asked how she might also enhance the learning experience of her own students. That dedication to effective teaching and a gift for writing propelled her back to the academy and Virginia Commonwealth University, where she earned an MFA in Theatre Pedagogy. She then began an interdisciplinary PhD in Theatre and Drama at Northwestern University, where her dissertation research explores the social history of celebrity culture, focusing on the shifting public perception—from prostitutes to political activist suffragettes—of British actresses, 1880-1920.
While at Northwestern, Lisa also worked as a Graduate Assistant in the teaching center and a Fellow in the Center for Leadership. Building on those experiences, she will be working primarily with graduate students at Iowa to help them develop and implement best practices in course development and classroom management. In addition to offering workshops, classroom observations, consultations, and reading groups for teaching assistants, she also will provide TA professional development targeted to the inquiry-guided, team-based pedagogies used in TILE classrooms.
“I want to support the concept that good teaching actively engages students in their own learning,” Lisa says. “And I will encourage TAs to consider teaching in a scholarly way so they ask ‘What are my students’ learning needs, why am I teaching this way, and how can I do it better?’”
In her “spare” time, Lisa hopes to pursue two passions: sports trivia and sailing. No problem connecting with the former, although shifting her loyalties from Tar Heel basketball might take some effort. Finding a place for the seafaring-Great-Lakes-faring sailor to sail other than Lake Macbride might be even more of a challenge.