Overcoming the disconnect posed by distance learning starts with quality leadership in the virtual classroom.
Graduate student Sajal Islam of the physics, astronomy and materials science department at Missouri State University has proven he has such leadership skills.
He recently received Missouri State’s Certified Distance Educator Award and the department’s Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award for his work as a teaching assistant.
Dr. Kartik Ghosh, distinguished professor of physics, is Islam’s advisor.
Building a career in teaching
Islam began his teaching career in his home country of Bangladesh.
He worked in several institutions there, including as a GRE faculty at Graduate Resources Enhancing Center (GREC) and as a course instructor at Shyamoli Ideal Polytechnic Institute.
Islam found attending MSU offered new opportunities and mentorship.
This includes the guidance he has received from Dr. Robert Mayanovic, department head of PAMS.
“Dr. Mayanovic has taught me the value of quick communication and showing students genuine care,” he said.
Staying connected to students
Islam considers constant communication with students to be key to quality instruction.
He stays in touch with his over email and discussion boards.
As an additional source of contact, Islam encourages students to schedule one-on-one meetings or to visit him during his office hours, he shares.
“I try to respond to my students’ requests as instantly as possible, even if to schedule a meeting for later,” he said. “I want them to get the help they need when they need it.”
Islam knows connecting with students isn’t just about correspondence.
It also results from making them aware that they are not alone in the education process.
“One of my goals is always to help students understand that they should never have to hesitate to ask questions,” he said. “As a fellow student myself, we all are learning together.”
Furthering growth in education
Islam will graduate from MSU this summer.
He plans to then pursue a doctoral program in materials science and engineering at the University of Texas at Dallas.
While that time may bring a new school and degree program, Islam knows he will maintain his love of teaching fostered at MSU.
“The teaching experience and recognition are things that I will always cherish,” he said. “Having the awards will remind me of the memories made during my time at MSU.”