KOKOMO, Ind. – As an instructor of current and future teachers at Indiana University Kokomo, Tara Kingsley sets an example of effective teaching her students can model in their own classrooms.
Her outstanding leadership, especially in online and virtual education, earned her state level recognition, as the 2021 recipient of the LEAP Indiana Annual Teaching Award. It is given to honor instructors who use transformative, inclusive, and engaged classroom techniques that result in effective teaching.
Kingsley, associate professor of education, was honored to receive the award.
“I was excited that they saw the evidence that I am meeting the areas they targeted in my teaching,” she said. “I felt like my work aligned with those priorities, which are very important for our students.”
Her nomination focused on her work creating an online master’s degree course in technology infused curriculum, in addition to her contributions for a support workshop for K-12 teachers, who had to learn to be effective virtual instructors, practically overnight, during the COVID-19 pandemic.
She created the virtual instruction workshop in IU Expand — which provides free, non-credit coursework — as part of the Indiana Governor’s Emergency Relief Fund. Now, Kingsley is helping teachers pivot from teaching virtually in times of crisis to purposeful and planned virtual instruction, “a model likely to emerge as a new, post-pandemic normal.”
Leah Nellis, dean of the School of Education, called Kingsley a leader in online course design not only for IU Kokomo, but for IU and the state.
“She clearly demonstrates the characteristics recognized through the LEAP Annual Teaching Award, and perhaps, most impressively, she supports other instructors in K-12 and higher education to utilize approaches that are transformative, equitable, and focused on citizenry and engagement.
“This award will honor Dr. Kingsley’s excellence, and promote the science and art of innovative teaching and learning.”
Selected from institutions across the state, Kingsley was commended for using real-world topics, and teaching and modeling of digital citizenship, with the pandemic providing an opportunity for students to reflect on the impact of the world health crisis brought on by COVID-19, and the opportunities for civic engagement.
Those kinds of experiences are crucial to prepare teachers to think about current events, and how they may impact students. For example, the pandemic was an opportunity to consider digital equity, or what access students had to technology tools and internet, and how that would impact teaching them virtually.
“I want to take advantage of those opportunities for students to reflect on what’s happening, but also feel called to take action, to think about how they can promote change and support their students, and advocate for their students,” she said. “That was an important part of the course.”
LEAP Indiana seeks to create and support connections among diverse faculty from across Indiana colleges and universities who are passionate about teaching and exploring innovative teaching aligned with the Association of American Colleges and Universities Liberal Education and America’s Promise (LEAP) States Initiative.