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Distinguished Teaching Professor Orem to talk ‘Lessons Learned About Teaching’ at seminar

April 15, 2011
Richard Orem

Richard Orem

When NIU College of Education professor Richard Orem steps to the podium Wednesday, April 20, for a Presidential Teaching Professor seminar, he will give a nod to a handful of students who made him a better teacher.

During the noon seminar, titled “Lessons Learned About Teaching in the Academy,” Orem will explain that those students and thousands who came before and after helped him shape a teaching philosophy that every educator should have.

It involves respect, a give-and-take teaching approach and the understanding that adults, no matter what language they speak, are motivated to learn.

“My philosophy is that teaching is a collaborative process that involves respect for the learner, whatever his or her age,” said Orem, who works in NIU’s Department of Counseling, Adult and Higher Education as well as the Department of Literacy Education.

The program will be held in the Illinois Room of the Holmes Student Center. Refreshments will be served at 11:30 a.m.

Orem has had plenty of practice listening to students’ stories.

During his 41-year career as an educator and developer of language and literacy programs, he has taught thousands of adult students and worked with a dozen or so colleagues he considers mentors.

In 2006, he was named NIU Presidential Teaching Professor, an award the university extends to faculty members who encourage their students to look beyond classroom walls for innovative methods, ideas and solutions.

“Dr. Orem is one of the reasons NIU has the reputation of being an outstanding teaching college,” Vice Provost Earl “Gip” Seaver said. “He brings so many unique perspectives to the classroom. Because of his engaging teaching style, NIU graduates are able to give their students an insightful and respectful education.”

Orem, who started teaching at NIU in 1978, focuses on the preparation of teachers of English as a second language in bilingual programs.

He currently directs Project Success, a Title 3 National Professional Development Grant from the U.S. Department of Education.

Its goals are to prepare mainstream classroom teachers in Illinois schools to work more effectively with the increasing numbers of English language learners entering these schools.

Orem, a former Peace Corps volunteer who taught English in Tunisia, helped create the graduate-level English as a second language teaching program at NIU. He also teaches the adult ESL methods classes for educators who work with adult English language learners.

“The assignments I’ve had here have allowed me to do a lot of things I would not have normally been able to do,” he said. “They have allowed me to travel all over the world, and they have opened so many doors for me.”

The Presidential Teaching Professorship designation was established in 1991 to recognize outstanding teachers who have demonstrated that:

  • They instill and develop in students an intensity of interest in and an appreciation for the value of the subject.
  • They apply rigorous standards to student performance, inspire students to become the best and stimulate student growth.
  • They command respect and esteem as a teacher.
  • They demonstrate extraordinary commitment to students and their welfare.
  • They explore and develop effective instructional methods and technologies.
  • They work actively with students, faculty, and administrators to improve undergraduate and/or graduate education at NIU.

Faculty members also must hold the position of full professor and have worked at NIU for at least six years.

For more information on the seminar, call (815) 753-0595.

by Gerard Dziuba