Employee Spotlight: Toni Anderson

Toni Anderson

Toni Anderson

It can be challenging to make an online class feel like an in-person interactive class, but North Seattle College’s Toni Anderson embraces this challenge gracefully and makes it look easy with her philosophy and passion for teaching. Anderson appreciates the high touch of face-to-face classes, and offers her students one-on-ones via video calls and sits in on group video conferences with her students. This level of effort and dedication is evidence of why Anderson is best in class and one of a kind.

1. How did you end up at North?
Belinda Tillman is the reason I am at NSC. She is one of my dearest friends, and we’ve known each other for many years; since her daughter was born! We have a mutual respect for each other – as friends and as professionals. When Belinda makes a request, she has my attention – including options of places to work. For years, Belinda said, “Toni, come work here with me,” and I would – North is no exception. 

 Knowing I enjoy teaching, Belinda asked if I would be interested in becoming an instructor for Career Link Academy (CLA). CLA was a much needed program housed at NSC, which provided high school aged students — who often had exhausted other options for obtaining a diploma — the opportunity to prepare and take the GED. When students applied themselves, making beneficial choices, they were able to apply for a sponsorship — the equivalent of a scholarship. Tuition and books were paid!

In my accepting the opportunity with CLA, Belinda and I “tag teamed” in encouraging and supporting a group of students who had challenges with the public school system & extremely challenging life dynamics. Though the program has dissolved on our campus, Belinda and I continue to support students in and out of the classroom.

2. When did you join North Seattle College (NSC)?
My first teaching job on this campus was with CLA, Winter quarter, 2001.

3. What does your role at NSC entail?
I have a unique dynamic. I teach part-time in the Business department (Workforce Instruction Division), have been the faculty development coordinator and participate on NSAC.

4.What is your favorite part about your job? 
My favorite part of teaching is observing the “lightbulb” moments. When students fully grasp an idea, or understand how applicable a theory is to their personal lives. When students gain the courage to do something they never thought they could, and do it incredibly well!

5. What is your favorite part about working at NSC? 
The people – I have always been a “people person.” I have the great fortune of connecting with anyone walking down the hall or across campus – staff, administrators, faculty, and students.

6. How did you get in to teaching?
I’ve always enjoyed the process of learning and helping others to learn.  I’ve also had some incredible teachers: 6th grade – Ms. Chinn, and a high school teacher “life saver” by the name of Ms. Wooten. They continue to inspire my teaching style – to always remember that the students are why we teach.

7. Where did you grow up?
I was born in Los Angeles…shhh, don’t tell, but grew up in the Mt. Baker neighborhood here in Seattle, and haven’t moved very far from our family home.

8. What do you like to do when not at work?
Hmmm…there are a few favorites: I enjoy some good live music. I’ve been known to hop in the car and drive to Bellingham, Olympia, and Portland to catch a concert!

Traveling to the water and sun of the Caribbean is one of my favorite spots. I enjoy being on, in and under water. I had the opportunity to “snuba,” where divers get oxygen by breathing through a hose instead of carrying an oxygen tank. We dove about 30 feet to view a shipwreck –it looked like a city!  I saw the most amazing colors, fish, other critters, and there was an obvious flow of traffic!

9. What is your greatest achievement?
Attending an HBCU (Historically Black College/University) and meeting numerous leaders I had only read about in magazines including: Dexter King, Julian Bond, and Lena Horne (who have both passed). The birthday of Dr. King was a huge celebration – with a free concert by Stevie Wonder. My experience was a definite milestone; I connected with people and places important to black history.

10. What is your favorite place in Seattle?
I have three that are my absolute favorites: the loop at Seward Park, Kubota Gardens, and Golden Gardens. I find tranquility around water and in the midst plants.

11. What is your teaching philosophy for online classes and how you have shaped the learning experience for the students (one-on-ones, more actual interpersonal interaction, etc.)?
Two of my favorite teachers from public schools have everything to do with my teaching style and philosophy. I learned through my experiences with the both teachers, things to make sure to do as teacher, and things to avoid. I give students as much information upfront, so there are no surprises. I avoid talking an entire class session.  Students will have an opportunity to work in groups every class meeting. 

Although, it can be challenging to make an online class feel like an interactive class, where the students understand that I am accessible, I appreciate the high touch of face-to-face and hybrid classes. I have to be innovative in creating high touch online, but I find a way! I sit in on team video conference calls – not to lecture, but to listen and answer questions. I also offer video one-on-one appointments to check in because some students won’t speak up as easily in a group setting – even on video calls.  

At the beginning of each quarter I encourage student commitment to learning experiences. In turn, I commit to supporting students in the process of learning. The transformation I witness in their learning process is priceless! One quarter in particular, I found the effort of continuing the high touch in my online course rewarding. I gave students the option of completing their presentation assignment via video conference or on campus; 17 of my 25 students presented in person! It was an opportunity for classmates to meet! One day on campus, I recognized a student from my online class, only because we connected via video so often.

Posted on: April 2nd, 2019 at 14:13:03

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