EKU instructor, Emily Zuccaro believes in relationship building and taking an active part in her student’s educational experience. She goes above and beyond to ensure her online students have opportunities to interact and engage with her. Zuccaro’s personal attention and dedication to helping students prepare to make their mark in the field makes her a particular point of pride on EKU’s campuses, both in-person and virtual. We take great pride in offering the chance to get to know her a little better.
What brought you to EKU?
I came to EKU in 2019 after graduating with my PhD from the University of Louisville. I had been looking for an elementary literacy education position and found the right fit at EKU.
Tell us a little about your work in your field.
I teach both undergraduate and graduate students in the College of Education and Applied Human Sciences. My focus is literacy instruction, demonstrating methods about reading, writing, speaking, listening, visually representing, and viewing. I also teach the children’s literature course, which is an important course to increase students’ understanding of picture and chapter books as instructional and cultural tools for supporting student learning and identity in their classrooms. At the graduate level, I teach a variety of literacy courses including literacy programs P-5, issues and trends in English Language Arts instruction, and literacy leadership and advocacy. I also lead the English as a Second Language (ESL) endorsement, where practicing teachers increase their cultural and linguistic instructional toolkits in teaching multilingual students.
What moment at EKU stands out as most memorable?
I do not have one stand-out moment in particular, but any time I see a student celebrate a classroom teaching job, it is a moment of joy as I watch them start their professional careers. I also enjoy when a student emails me to tell me they enjoyed reading one of the children or young adult books I assigned.
What is your approach to online teaching?
I think student relationships matter in any education instructional setting and I try to get to know my students in a variety of ways. I also believe individualized instruction best serves students–when teaching and learning opportunities are meaningful to students’ lives and their future.
What tactics or approaches do you use to aid in your student’s success?
I think student success is achieved by many things; most particularly, setting clear expectations for the course, frequent communication, specific and ongoing feedback, and relevant and meaningful curricular engagements.
What do you believe are the biggest advantages to online learning?
Students can complete educational work at their own pace. This is so important for students who have full-time jobs, families, and other commitments that may present challenges in attending face to face, synchronous classes.
What have you been up to lately? (Research, projects, awards, etc.)
I have been working with a colleague in reflecting on and presenting about our teaching preparation program. The programs ability to graduate culturally and linguistically responsive teachers, in which we examine the instructional materials and assignments and their ability to raise our students’ consciousness about diverse classrooms and their teaching. I just wrapped up some grant work with social action research projects in children’s literature. I am currently redesigning ESL endorsement courses as we host a 30-teacher cohort this year from Fayette County.
What advice would you give to someone who’s considering finishing their degree, or starting for the first time as an adult?
I recommend setting and managing boundaries and expectations for your work it’s a big commitment. However, if you complete it in a punctuated time frame–be prepared for working on your courses after work or on the weekends. Also, remember your workload will not always look like this. Once you’re finished, you can look back at all you achieved!
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