Why I teach
Esther Ntuli

Esther Ntuli

Associate Lecturer Educational Foundations

What inspired you to be a university professor?
My late father, Muxabango Ntuli was a great high school science and mathematics teacher. I saw the lives that he touched and changed through teaching. Growing up, I used to meet people who told me how my father helped them attain the requirements for admission into college. Their stories inspired me to want to become an educator. With the help of my mother, Gladys Ntuli, I was able to achieve that dream. She stood by me and provided emotional support and inspiration even after my father passed away.

Why teach in a university setting?
The university setting allows me to reach a broader audience and through this audience I am able to contribute to our ever changing society. In this setting I can contribute to the world through the graduate and undergraduate education. Specifically, I enjoy and I am especially grateful for the opportunity to serve in the graduate case studies program that I currently supervise. The research and critique that my graduate students engage in during the case study writing process helps them go out and change the way they teach, and also share with others how to be effective teachers. Also in this setting, I have the opportunity to engage in research and contribute to the body of knowledge in Early Childhood Education and Instructional Technology with my colleagues and students. Through research I am able to stay current with new knowledge in my field. I spend most of my time researching topics and innovative strategies for improving teaching and learning.

If you weren't a university professor what do you think you would be doing?
I would still be serving in education. I think I would have been a school counselor in an elementary or secondary school back in Zimbabwe.

What has teaching taught you about yourself?
I have come to learn that I enjoy learning and sharing new knowledge. I still have a lot to learn about the new developments in Early Childhood education and in Instructional technology which are my two major fields. I have also learned to be more caring, patient, approachable, dependable and to reflect on my actions as I interact with students and colleagues every day.

What is the most difficult aspect of teaching?
I think the most difficult aspect is designing and implementing instruction that fits all learning styles and learning needs. I am very appreciative that I have the opportunity to teach and learn in a diverse setting. I always enjoy the challenge of using different teaching strategies and instructional modes (both traditional and online) in my classes. My aim is to make sure that all students and learning styles are met.

Is there an identifying moment where you knew you had a pronounced positive impact upon a student?
I have moments here and there but the one that stands out to me is when one of my graduate students told me how I had made a significant impact on her education. This student had taken some time off without completing her case study. When she decided to come back to resume graduate school she found that she still had to complete this part of her work. The only problem was that she had to work from out-of-state. As the supervisor I decided to work closely with her in an online environment to help her complete this process. I was always available for prompt feedback and follow- up. At her defense, she told me that she wouldn't have been able to make it had it not been for my willingness to work with her and explain the case study process clearly. She told me how I had been an encouragement to her when she came close to giving up.

What career/life messages do you try to impart upon your students?
Never give up in life. If you are not sure, ask. There is always someone who can help you. Seek out good mentors and good friends who will help shape the way you think and what you will become in the future.

What do you want students to take from their ISU educational experience?
I want students to leave ISU knowing that they have a responsibility to change the world for the better, to solve problems in their communities and to create and recreate. As they learn in our programs, they should know that the impact they will make in their work place will not only be a reflection of them but also a reflection of ISU. Lastly, I would like students to leave the programs with an appreciation for diversity and social justice and live as good global citizens.