January Faculty Spotlight – Amy Watt

Innovate and reimagine education: this is the approach that Amy Watt has taken toward teaching throughout the pandemic, and she has been met with remarkable success.

Amy Watt, a professor in the Police Foundations program within the School of Justice and Emergency Services, approaches teaching through project-based learning. Her aim is to encourage critical thinking and collaboration so that learners practice these skills to prepare for a career in law enforcement.

Through case studies and experiential learning opportunities, Amy has found a unique method for teaching both communication and intercultural awareness. She has taken the opportunities afforded by the pandemic to connect Durham College learners with the larger world community.

Each week, students in Amy’s class work collaboratively to deliver conversational English lesson to Nepali students between the ages of 9 and 12. DC students must plan, create, and present a 45-minute conversational English lesson on any topic of their choosing. Though they worked collaboratively to plan and create the lesson, each student is responsible for their own presentation portion. In this way, Amy has emulated the workplace within her classes, where performance is individually assessed but collaboratively contextualized.

Through this experience, Amy has provided learners who might not perform as effectively in traditional assessments a forum to shine. They engage critical thinking skills and learn to tailor communication to a specific audience and build empathy in cultural awareness. This approach fosters creative, out-of-the-box thinking which a mindset is to cultivate in future law enforcement.

“This approach to learning fosters creative, out-of-the-box thinking, which a mindset is to cultivate in future law enforcement.”

This experience is bolstered by Amy’s philosophy that building a community to support learning involves recognizing that the world is our community. DC students and Nepali students are excited to connect and communicate. Their learning transcends curriculum as relationships are forged, and empathy built.

This would not have been possible without the disruption in education that has characterized much of the pandemic. As UNICEF states, the pandemic has highlighted that “digital learning should become an essential service” and that location should not determine whether a child receives an effective education.

Technology has been the backbone of this educational reimagining; it has allowed a dynamic world classroom to emerge which isn’t bounded by walls. In this space creativity can flourish, community and inclusion can be built.

Amy’s advice for faculty as we continue to reimagine education: “be creative and encourage your students to be creative.”