Q&A with Mark Seals
Dr. Mark a. Seals
Director of the School of
Teaching and Learning
Years at BGSU:
I started my tenure here April 1, 2017, so l just celebrated six months.
I am a Boilermaker. Of all my associations to colleges and universities, I have always resonated most closely with Purdue University where I completed my master's and doctoral work in curriculum and instruction in science education. With that said, I am so proud to be part of the BGSU family and though very new, I now consider myself a Falcon!
The teacher/pupil relationship and the implications it has on the learning environment. My Doctoral Thesis, “Caring and Its Role In Effective Life Science Teaching: A Case Study” was completed in 1999. My research explored, analyzed, and described the reciprocity of “caring” as it is embedded in and shapes the culture of the high school life science classroom. I focused on teachers who were perceived to be “effective and caring,” their students and the environment that they had constructed. I gained a better understanding about the impact caring has in a variety of teaching and learning situations. Though I have broadened my research agenda nationally and internationally, “caring” has and continues to be the foundation of my research agenda to date.
Fun fact that people wouldn’t know about you:
From alligator tail to crawly insects, I am game for trying any food in this beautiful world of ours except one: the toddler staple of the seemingly tried and true blue box special from Kraft – Mac and Cheese.
Public school teacher: My experience as a public school educator (science emphasis) started as a high school science teacher in both Lyman, Wyoming (five years) and Hailey, Idaho (six years), where I taught biology, physical science, earth science, marine biology and other related courses while also coaching football, girls and boys basketball and girls track.
Professor/department chair: My first professorship and department chair role was at Alma College for 15 years. I have been fortunate to work at a college that expects teaching excellence and allowed me to grow in countless ways.
Directorship: My first directorship was at Pacific University. It was an incredible learning experience and it has taught me to deal with all levels of governance and provided me with a very good overarching view of how the campus works holistically.
Q&A with Mark Seals
What interested you about the STL school director position at BGSU?
Originally, it was the opportunity to become a part of one of the top education programs in the United States. I had always heard about the BGSU programs, and when the door opened for me to work here, it was a dream come true. Once I arrived, it quickly became all about coming alongside to support the amazing people who work at BGSU and helping them pursue their passions.
How have you been adjusting to your new role so far?
I feel it has been a really steep learning curve, but the people here – from the office staff to veteran faculty members to the other directors and all the deans – have opened their arms and hearts to myself and my family and have helped us make the transition to Ohio as seamless as possible.
What are your priorities during your first year at STL school director?
It is very important for me to connect with each individual and every program in the School of Teaching and Learning so as to better serve their needs and, together, reach a shared vision. With that as a foundation, I want every student who graduates from the School of Teaching and Learning – undergrad and graduated programs alike – to be ready for the realities of their future classrooms.
What is your favorite part about teaching?
Getting to know people! It was during my years as an educator where I truly learned the content and teaching strategies that I have been able to share and pass on to my teacher candidates at Alma College, Pacific University and now Bowling Green State University. I loved both my public school experiences, and it was there, in the “teaching trenches,” I knew I wanted to make a greater impact by teaching and preparing teacher candidates in higher education.
What advice would you give to students heading out into the real world?
My advice is to teach each child that walks into their classroom as if they were your own. I would advise them to look at every child as an individual, as a person and as a student.
What was the best piece of advice you received as a student?
A quote by Haim Ginott given to me as a graduate student: 'I’ve come to a frightening conclusion that I am the decisive element in the classroom. It’s my personal approach that creates the climate. It’s my daily mood that makes the weather. As a teacher, I possess a tremendous power to make a child’s life miserable or joyous. I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration. I can humiliate or heal. In all situations, it is my response that decides whether a crisis will be escalated or de-escalated and a child humanized or dehumanized.'
What is your greatest professional achievement so far?
The realization that I am in a profession that allows me to step into someone’s life – for a brief moment in time – and impact their career and, in turn, the future of the students they will one day teach.