Finding Joy in Teaching

New Program Honors Effective Teachers and Rekindles Joy in Education

In the midst of the pandemic, with teaching and many other parts of life disrupted, Randi Stanulis decided it was time to rekindle the joy that College of Human Medicine faculty members find in helping students grow and succeed.


“I know that coming out of the pandemic, we found that many of us were experiencing burnout and people feeling we were stretched too thin,” said Stanulis PhD, assistant dean for faculty development and director of the college’s Office of Medical Education Research and Development (OMERAD).

“It made me think we needed to do something about it.”

Thus, a year ago was born Finding Joy in Teaching, an honorific program based on the belief that the best teachers love what they do. Research shows that the most effective teachers not only like what they do, but are flexible and focused on student growth, Stanulis said.

“There are a lot of people who say, ‘I teach biochemistry,’” she said. “I say, ‘No, you teach students about biochemistry. That shift is significant.”

Faculty honored for teaching excellence

A year ago, College of Human Medicine department chairs and directors nominated faculty members known for their effective teaching skills and enthusiasm. Stanulis then led the recording of a series of 10 short audio presentations offering the honorees’ perspectives and suggestions on the joy of teaching. The episodes were posted online and celebrated at the inaugural Joy in Teaching reception, funded in part by the Dr. Ruth Allen Endowment in OMERAD.

The idea for this movement is “to elevate a culture where teaching effectiveness is valued and where peers can see what others are doing and be inspired by that,” Stanulis said, adding that it “really raised awareness to another level that teaching is joyful, is recognized, and is valued at the College of Human Medicine.”

While research is an important part of the college’s mission, skillful teaching is equally essential, she said.

In October, department chairs and directors will nominate a second cohort of faculty members to be recognized for their teaching excellence in Finding Joy in Teaching. Those chosen will add their perspectives to the audio series collection and will be honored in the spring. For most, it is clear through listening to their audio episodes, teaching is its own reward.

For 18 years, Stanulis was a professor in MSU’s Department of Teacher Education in the College of Education before becoming director of OMERAD.

“I enjoy the energy that comes from students when they are actively involved,” she said. “I enjoy their curiosity. I enjoy seeing them light up as they learn.”