Amanda Smothers

Teaching and Learning Coordinator, Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning

Amanda Smothers

What year did you start working at NIU? 2019.

Where is your hometown, and where do you live now?
West Chicago (hometown) and Sycamore (now).

Where did you attend school? What degree(s) did you earn?
Marquette University, B.A., double major in Theatre Arts and English; Northern Illinois University, M.A. in British and American Literature; Northern Illinois University, Ph.D. in English, specializing in 19th Century British Literature and Bibliography and Textual Studies.   

Describe your typical day—what do you do while at work?
My typical day isn't really typical. I wear a lot of hats in my position, so I could be meeting virtually with faculty who need help with instructional technology and pedagogy, planning and coordinating the Teaching Assistants Institute, working on various programs, delivering an instructional workshop, conducting pedagogical research, attending professional development to improve my knowledge base and experience, collaborating with colleagues, and the list goes on and on.

What do you like about working at NIU?
I am glad I get to continue my career journey at NIU after having spent so much time with the university as my home as a graduate teaching assistant while working on my degrees. I love the environment and the location, and I am lucky to have so many great colleagues to work and collaborate with in the Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning.

What advice would you give to students currently attending NIU?
My advice to current NIU students would be to take advantage of all of the resources NIU has to offer. Don't be afraid to seek out or ask for help when you need it. You don't have to go through your journey alone.

What is your favorite campus event?
As a graduate student, my favorite event was the Midwestern Conference on Literature, Language and Media. It's a great conference that always has such interesting presentations and speakers. In my current position, any Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning event is a favorite, particularly the Teaching Assistants Institute, which we are delivering entirely online this year for the first time.

In what ways do you see your colleagues help foster student success?
In the Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning, our goal is to foster student success by helping faculty and teaching assistants facilitate student learning. All of our programs are designed with an eye toward promoting best practices in teaching. While we work with faculty and teaching assistants and not directly with students, NIU's students are ultimately who we are here to serve.

What is your favorite memory of NIU?
My favorite NIU memory is from this past January's Teaching Effectiveness Institute at which Derek Bruff spoke. My colleague and I took Derek to dinner the previous evening, and we went to The Gaming Goose afterward. It was a great opportunity to pick his brain about instructional technology and learn some great new ideas for teaching with tech.

What did you want to be when you were growing up? Are you currently doing it? If not, what changed your path?
I honestly don't remember what I wanted to be when I grew up. At one point, I was really into forensic science. When I was in high school and undergrad, I wanted to be a Broadway actress. Obviously, that's not what I'm doing right now. After I graduated from college, I worked as a seamstress and realized that the lifestyle of a working actor at the beginning of her career wasn't for me, so I decided to go to graduate school to eventually be an English professor. What I do currently is definitely within that same sphere; I'm still in higher education, but I teach faculty in addition to teaching students as an adjunct professor.

What community organizations are you involved in? 
I'm involved in Stage Coach Players theatre. I've volunteered with them for nine years and have performed in numerous musicals and plays, as well as directed three shows and lent a hand with costume design and construction on multiple productions.

What do you do to relax or recharge?
I don't have much time to relax or recharge, but when I do, I will read a book, watch a favorite show, or play World of Warcraft and Hearthstone. In normal times, I like to hang out with friends and family, go to the movies, and eat at restaurants too.

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