Learning Through Play
Singing, dancing and yoga are not typical college classroom activities. At least not all in one class. But for Jenny Lampe, lecturer in Kent State University’s Early Childhood Education Program, it’s important for her students to experience the full preschool education with all of these activities, plus expected activities like reading children’s books.
Teaching by example, just like in preschool, is Lampe’s classroom philosophy.
“In our classes, we talk about experiential knowledge, we learn by doing. For children, they learn by play,” Lampe said. “I incorporate elements of play, so we can share in the experiences, but I try to find a balance of engaging conversation about the things we’re reading and learning.”
Play is an integral part of Lampe’s classroom. Teaching her students songs, science experiments or a new craft they can do in the field can help them connect with their future students.
“My hope that whether it’s a preschool classroom or an undergraduate classroom at Kent State, we’re finding the joy in learning and doing so through play.”
Lampe also coordinates and oversees students' hands-on work in preschool classrooms.
“We start every class with gathering meetings,” Lampe said. “It’s really important to me as the field coordinator to take time for students to share what I refer to as their joys, challenges and in-betweens. We share and workshop the joys, challenges and in-betweens as a community and come up with ways to support each other. It’s important to me that the students know that I support them. When I say at the end of my email, I’m always here to support, I do mean it, and I try to show them.”
Lampe’s dedication and endless efforts to support her students in authentic ways led to her being nominated for, and receiving, the 2023 Outstanding Teaching Award.
“It’s a huge honor,” Lampe said. “Not only for me, but I want everyone to recognize that I wouldn’t be here without them. I wouldn’t be here without my colleagues and my students.”
The Outstanding Teaching Award is the highest teaching award for full-time, non-tenure track and part-time faculty members who are nominated by their students for being among the most dedicated, highly effective and motivated professors at Kent State.
“There are many reasons that Jenny deserves this award,” said an early childhood education major Athena Demetri. “She is a kindhearted and caring person. She treats her students as colleagues, not as people less than her. She knows how to teach in ways that keep you interested and always gives ideas or advice for us future teachers to use in our classrooms. She is an amazing woman, who is so dedicated to her profession.”
Student nominators also reflected on Lampe’s positive energy and motivation.
“Jenny Lampe has been the most supportive professor I've met. She has had such an impact on my life and I'm so thankful to have her as a professor and mentor,” a student nominator wrote. “She genuinely understands the chaotic life of a college student and she wants us all to succeed. Her motivation and kindness is unmatched from any other professor I've had.”
Lampe’s overall goal is for her students to find their joy and love of learning.
“My students surprise and inspire me. I truly love what I do, and a large part is because of them,” Lampe said.
Lampe was honored Friday, Oct. 20, along with other recipients of the Outstanding Teaching Awards and Distinguished Teaching Awards at the University Teaching Council Conference.
Photo credit: Classroom photos by Hannah Park