We recently sat down for a conversation with Professor Judith Gottlieb. We wanted to learn more about her background, find out what brought her to Marygrove, and gain some general insight into the distinguishing features of Marygrove’s online Master of Arts in Teaching online program. -What courses do you teach and how long have you been with the MAT program?
I have been an MAT Mentor since 1999. During my first two years, MAT students from a variety of states and school districts would submit assignments through the US mail, and the collaboration sessions were tape recorded and mailed to mentors. As the Internet grew, MAT changed quickly to a vibrant, collaborative online program!
-Could you say a bit about your professional background? What did you do before you became a professor at Marygrove?
I was a K-6 Science teacher in the Detroit Public Schools, working with culturally diverse urban populations. Science is easily integrated with all areas of the curriculum, and I was able to capture students’ excitement by linking experiments and background information with art, math, and writing. A yearly Science Fair was the culminating highlight of all these curriculum connections. Although teaching in an urban environment presents unique challenges, students are motivated by supportive teachers, such as MAT graduates, who encourage their creativity and value their individuality and strengths.
-What originally drew you to your position at Marygrove College?
As a committed educator, I conducted many parent workshops and teacher training sessions in the community and district. As a result of observing these collaborative activities, a teaching colleague who was also an MAT Mentor, asked if I might be interested in sharing my teaching experience and mentoring other teachers. She invited me to shadow her and her students, and I was immediately drawn to the engaging MAT activities and collaborative format of the MAT program!
-Why do you think teachers should consider pursuing a MAT degree?
The MAT program fosters teachers’ professional growth via research-based approaches to instruction, and global perspectives developed as a result of the collaborative relationships built in the online MAT format. The courses build skills and knowledge in leadership, assessment, differentiated instruction, content area expertise, backwards design, and action research. Teachers universally testify in their final Capstone project about their increased level of confidence, leadership abilities, expertise in evidenced-based instruction, and strategies for motivating students!
-There are many, many online MAT programs out there. What distinguishes Marygrove’s MAT program from all of the others?
A major strength of the MAT curriculum is the performance-based approach to coursework. All of the assignments and learning tasks are correlated with real life applications that teachers can use immediately in their classrooms to improve instruction and enhance student success. Further, the MAT program is unique in its philosophical base. As part of developing professional expertise, all of the coursework has a self-reflection component that is correlated with the theme of “being a contribution” to students, families, peers, community, and ultimately society as a whole.
-What do you find most rewarding about teaching at Marygrove?
I have the pleasure of sharing knowledge, as well as coaching and interacting with students, as a facilitator of their educational goals and professional growth. I am continuously inspired to be part of this cycle of growth, and energized by the commitment and actions of engaged and inspired teachers!
-Marygrove’s mission is guided by “the three C’s”—competence, commitment, compassion. The college also has a tradition of serving underprivileged and underrepresented students. How does this tradition and mission come into play in the MAT program?
Since the philosophical underpinnings of the MAT program are rooted in the teacher’s role as a contributor to their students and society, the cycle of support and knowledge they provide to a variety of communities is ultimately based in, and reflective of, the high levels of competence, commitment, and compassion honed in the MAT program. As integral members of professional learning communities within schools and districts, the traits of competence, commitment, and compassion are translated into leadership actions by MAT graduates, impacting diverse socioeconomic groups and cultures around the United States, as well as abroad.