NATCHITOCHES – Five Northwestern State University faculty have been recognized with the 2020 Excellence in Teaching Award.
Here is part two in a series of profiles of this year’s honorees.
Name: Dr. Donald Johnston
Academic college/department: College of Nursing / DNP Program
Number of years at Northwestern State: 5.5
Why is teaching important to you? Teaching nursing students is of critical importance to me, because we are preparing the health care professionals who will care for our own families. I am not just transferring knowledge, I am attempting to transfer an attitude of servanthood, along with a thirst for more knowledge. I strive to create perpetual learners and critical thinkers.
Why do you believe you are an effective teacher? I believe an effective teacher is able to take an incredibly complex concept and break it down into layman’s terms. In this way, the student can attach the new information to previously learned concepts, creating a richer knowledge base with a broader scope of applicability. Since it is impossible to know everything in the medical field, I strive to teach the process of deductive reasoning to my students so that they think critically and are able to make wise decisions.
As a teacher, what brings you a feeling of accomplishment when working with students?
Seeing my former students become successful healthcare professionals brings me joy, but what’s ultimately fulfilling is watching the students I have served transform that experience and become servants themselves. It’s about seeing the heart, and the attitude that assures me, this student is going to take excellent care of his or her patients.
How has the current pandemic affected your teaching methods?
I’ve adapted my teaching methods during the pandemic by expanding my availability and interaction with my students to meet them where they are, whenever and however necessary.
Have you learned anything during the pandemic that will make you a better teacher?
I think any opportunity to practice flexibility makes us better people, and therefore better teachers.