Kristen Thornton earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education from Shorter University in Rome, Georgia. Several years later she began attending online classes at Grand Canyon University with the purpose of obtaining a Master's degree in Curriculum and Instruction with an emphasis in Technology.
It was the online experience at Grand Canyon University that led Kristen to pursue a position as a GCU instructor almost 3 years ago. She enjoys challenging her students in thinking critically about the art of becoming a teacher. Kristen encourages her students to put forth their best effort in class in order to better prepare themselves for the challenges they will face as an educator. She enjoys hearing students share how much they have learned about their future profession throughout their time in her class.
Kristen has taught elementary students for 8 years in Douglas County, Colorado. She loves being able to share her experiences in the elementary classroom with her GCU students. Her passion for teaching both young learners and adult learners is a fulfilling part of her life.
Kristen lives in Castle Rock, Colorado with her husband, Adam, who is also an educator. They have two boys who are 4 years and 11 months old.
How has facilitating online courses at GCU helped you find your purpose?
Preparing future teachers for a career in education is not something that I take lightly. I strive to prepare my students for their role in the classroom, which includes loving and nurturing their students, lesson planning, assessing, collaborating with other colleagues, etc. As I seek out resources for my students in this area I am able to self-reflect as a teacher and find my own growth areas as an educator.
What is one effective teaching strategy you use in your online classes?
I am a firm believer that communication is crucial in the online setting. There are several ways that I work at effectively communicating with my students. Each week I post a clarification document that further explains the weekly assignment and common mistakes that students in previous courses have made. I find that a proactive approach works well with struggling students and communicate with them immediately via the Individual Forum in Loud Cloud to address any issues and guide them on the right path. I also strive to return weekly feedback within 24-48 hours of submission so students know what they might need to improve on for the following week.
What is a GCU online student success story you can share?
I ask my students the first week of class to let me know if they have anything they need prayer for. I have had many conversations with students on the phone while they cry their heart to me. Many times personal struggles are standing in their way of successfully completing an assignment or the entire class. I try to be a good listener and encourager. Most students just need to know they are cared for and that their instructor believes in them, which is not that different from how their own students will feel one day!