Dr. Kim Livengood: Teaching Excellence
September 19, 2011
An assistant professor in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction, Livengood teaches courses that prepare future secondary teachers for their first teaching positions. She has also updated existing courses and realigned them to adhere to state and national standards, and developed online courses.
In recognition of her stellar performance in the classroom, Livengood was honored with the 2011 ASU President’s Award for Faculty Excellence in Teaching.
“Part of the reason I won that was because I worked to start a new program, the Master of Arts in curriculum and instruction, and because of how much it has grown,” Livingood said. “We had 14 students for the first summer cohort, 30 for the second and almost 60 for the third.”
Students in the program also consistently pass state-mandated certification exams, evidence of the program’s success.
With her eye also on the future of education, Livengood has also implemented a research project to foster cultural awareness in teaching candidates, who will confront many changes in the country’s culture and diversity expected for the foreseeable future.
“I think education will look drastically different in 10 years,” Livengood said. “Culture influences everything we do, how we interpret things and how we think. We bring all that to the table. Students have a different culture today than they had even five and 10 years ago, and as our culture changes, the classroom is going to have to change.”
“In culture, you generally have two perspectives,” she added. “You have those students who are very education oriented and very goal centered. Those are the students that our school systems have been focused on and that have succeeded in the past. They want to get to the next goal, whether it is the next class, the next grade or the next semester.”
On the other hand, there are the more relationship-oriented students, many of whom are Hispanic, who relate to their peers and learn in a different way. Instructing future teachers on how to best reach these students is the main thrust of Livengood’s project. Luckily, she has some personal experience gleaned while she was a high school chemistry teacher in Corpus Christi, which has a large Hispanic presence.
“Relationships are their priority over everything else,” Livengood said. “Education is still seen as important, but they have a different way of looking at things. They want to work together, and it’s more about collaborating and building off each other rather than competing to be No. 1.”
Students often begin showing the traits of being either education-oriented or relationship-oriented before they get to high school.
“They start separating a little bit in middle school,” she said. “That’s when you see those who become goal-oriented and focused apart from their parents, and those who still want to include their families in all their decisions.”
Another priority for Livengood is keeping new teachers engaged in the profession.
Having worked with first-year teachers in some 30 school districts around Texas during her graduate school years, Livengood observed that teachers tend to stay in the profession if they get the support they need to make it past the first couple of years.
“Those who stay figure out that they may not be able to do as much as they wanted with every kid, but they are making a difference,” she said. “It is really the kids who have to ultimately do what is needed. Our part is to influence them.”
Through her own influence, Livengood is working to educate culturally conscious secondary teachers who build successful long-term careers in the classrooms of Texas and beyond.