Spotlight K-State shines light on innovative campus teachers


For its second year in a row, a team of individuals are hosting Spotlight K-State, the TED Talk-formatted event that’s meant to give a space for people to share innovative and inspirational ideas in meaningful ways.

“It’s just a fun, wonderful evening,” said Jana Fallin, director of the Teaching and Learning Center and professor. “And it’s a spotlight on some of the delightful, innovative, effective teaching that’s going on around here.”

Fallin will work behind the scenes, along with Mike Wesch, associate professor of sociology, anthropology and social work; and Chad Jackson, interim director and instructor for the Center for the Advancement of Entrepreneurship.

The guest list for the event, scheduled for March 31 from 7-10 p.m. in Forum Hall, primarily consists of graduate students and professors. However, Fallin said she wouldn’t turn anyone away. The team’s target is to get as many K-State professors to the event as possible; they have ordered multiple textbooks they’ve found inspiring or helpful in a classroom setting to give to members of the audience.

“We have this wonderful reception,” Fallin said. “It’s a real upscale event, we’re trying to tell all the teachers at K-State, ‘Thank you and we’re celebrating what you do.'”

Although Fallin, as well as President Kirk Schulz, had a major part in planning the event, there were a few other contributors who got to decide who to spotlight at the event. Analyzing what made the speakers innovative enough to have a roughly six-minute time slot at the event was key to making that decision.

“I just pay very close attention throughout the year for anything amazing happening around campus,” Wesch said. “I just always have my eyes and ears open, looking for some great innovation that somebody is doing somewhere. Currently, our theme is on teaching and learning. So, we just look for people who are doing really interesting things with teaching and learning, then we reach out to them to share that.”

Fallin, Wesch and Jackson all worked on a small committee to plan Spotlight; from picking presenters to choosing the books the attendees will take home, it was a lengthy process. But, according to Jackson, it’s a great way to see the similarities and differences in teaching styles that work for various educators and students around campus.

“The great thing about about planning an event like Spotlight is that at K-State, there are so many innovative teachers that we never have a shortage of potential presenters,” Jackson said.

The team can’t wait for Spotlight to get underway, and hope that it will become a permanent, well-known occasion in the K-State education community, they said. Furthermore, they said they believe that Spotlight represents the best innovators K-State has to offer.

“If we have to go to Spotlight twice a year, that would be great,” Wesch said. “If we just had so many great ideas, that would be a wonderful thing.”