Meet the Faculty: Alisa Bates, Dean
Here on the Room 241 blog, we always welcome educators outside of Concordia’s community who value the idea of public scholarship and want to contribute their insights and ideas. But we also think it’s important to highlight the faculty members at Concordia. Should you choose to apply to any of our College of Education programs, these people may become your instructor, your dean, or a lifelong mentor and friend. They empower our students to take charge of tomorrow every single day, and they’re just generally awesome.
All this week, we’ll be introducing you to five of our standout faculty members. (In the future, you’ll meet even more.) So let’s get started. Today, meet Alisa Bates, Dean of Concordia’s College of Education.
A quick background
Born and raised in Virginia, Dr. Bates attended the College of William and Mary for an undergraduate degree in psychology and elementary education. While working as an elementary classroom teacher, she earned an MEd in Curriculum and Instruction from Virginia Tech, and later earned her PhD in teacher education from Michigan State University. At Concordia, she serves as dean of the college of education, and is a former faculty member teaching in the MEd programs. Here’s our Q&A wth her.
What led to your calling and vocation in education?
I was raised in an educator family with a mother who taught elementary school and a father who was in university roles his entire career. I knew from a young age that I wanted to be a teacher—I revered my kindergarten teacher and am still in touch with her today—and, like many kids, would “practice” at home on my siblings. Learning is something that I have always enjoyed and working with children was my favorite way to share my knowledge. I never wavered from that track and taught elementary school after college before moving on to higher education.
What kind of student thrives in Concordia’s College of Education programs?
I believe it’s a student who is willing to work hard to understand the complexities of teaching and learning, recognizing that children bring profound curiosities with them to the classroom each day. As the United States becomes increasingly diverse, the expectations of teachers to meet each child where he/she is through a culturally responsive lens, acknowledging the variety of learners in the classroom is not a simple act. Yet, it’s worthwhile for the child’s learning and must be tackled by the teacher with passion and grace. Balancing the demands of schools, communities, and individual students can be intense but it’s crucial to the success of children. Students that recognize and embrace this challenge will thrive at Concordia.
What do you love about working at Concordia?
The College of Education is now located in a preK-8 public school next to campus. We walk through the halls of an active school to meet with colleagues, support classroom teachers, and teach classes. Engaging in the powerful work of preparing teachers for future classrooms in the context of a school means that the importance of our work is never far from our minds or our hands. It’s a great reminder of why we do what we do when you pass the class of preK’s on their way back from the library with arms full of books that they want to show you with excitement!
Do you have any advice for prospective students—for making the most of their experience, or for why they should consider applying?
Consider carefully how you want to make the most of your time in a graduate program and consider how to best balance that goal with the rest of your lives. Be intentional and make a plan before you begin to ensure your success. And, then, join us for some great conversation, reading, doing, and reflecting on the powerful actions of teachers and educational leaders throughout your courses!
What is your favorite book about teaching that every educator should read?
I have been a huge fan of Carol Ann Tomlinson and her work on differentiated instruction for a long time—she has several great titles in this area but my go-to is How to Differentiate Instruction in Academically Diverse Classrooms for her concrete strategies to meet the needs of all learners.
And lastly, what’s your favorite quote?
“No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.” -Aesop
Thank you, Dr. Bates!