Why I Teach: Claudia McVicker
Claudia McVicker’s passion is teaching elementary reading and literature courses to future educators. Her goal is for students to experience what learning feels like to young children. Whether she’s holding a vocabulary parade where each student comes to class dressed as a word, or having students make pointer sticks to use with oversized books, each of her assignments requires a direct application to teaching.
In addition to teaching traditional undergraduate classes, McVicker also helped develop MNU’s new graduate reading curriculum.
A member of the International Reading Conference, the UK Literacy Association, and the Reading Association of Ireland, McVicker has observed more than 90 children abroad and analyzed their responses to literature. She says the research has been well received in Europe and New Zealand.
Having taught at six other universities and colleges, McVicker enjoys MNU where the small classes allow her to offer more value-added experiences such as field trips and personal discussion.
“I like to make learning pleasant and memorable,” she says.
The overarching focus of McVicker's work is to model a Christian perspective for prospective teachers.
“That means they should be child-centered thinkers who always consider the child first in all decisions,” she says. “Yes, you will be teaching in public schools, but you can still model Christian values. Be Christ’s light in every school you enter!”
Q & A
Q Why do you enjoy teaching at MNU?
A I like the students and am always amazed at the rich campus life they enjoy here at MNU. No one can deny what a close-knit group of students we have. I also love all of the MidAmerica traditions: chapel, Harvest Prayer and especially our graduation traditions.
Q Give us a favorite memory at MNU.
A After a field trip to The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, we went to dinner. As we received our food, one of my students asked if we could hold hands and pray. I’d never had that feeling where I have been friends with my students, as well as a professor. I felt connected to my students and blessed that I could pray with them.
Q What is your favorite travel/teaching experience?
A I started taking students to Liverpool in 2005. For five to six weeks we embed the students in local elementary schools. We stay at Hope University, a small, faith-based school on the edge of Liverpool. Four days a week, the students immerse themselves in the classrooms. On their three-day weekends the students travel and experience Europe.
I love this trip because I watch my students become transformed, resourceful thinkers.