“I believe my role as a teacher is that of a fellow traveler along the road to knowledge—a guide rather than a taskmaster.”
Education professor Tiffany Wheeler encourages her students to search for knowledge across disciplines. One of her favorite examples of a student who successfully accomplished that goal is an elementary education and religion double major who was accepted into Harvard University graduate programs in both education and divinity.
"She chose the divinity program, but was able to incorporate her education interests into it," says Wheeler. "After graduating from Harvard, she became an elementary teacher in an international school."
Such cross-disciplinary connections are part of becoming a "public intellectual who cares," according to Wheeler. "Liberally educated teachers foster an intellectual curiosity in their students that will help them develop into lifelong learners."
Wheeler engages her students in discussions about a variety of challenging questions: What is the purpose of schooling? Is education a right or a privilege? Does the U.S. truly value all of its children?
She also encourages them to wrestle with issues that many people find difficult to discuss, such as race, ethnicity, socioeconomic inequality, and stereotypes. Wheeler has deep insights into those topics, thanks in part to her participation in a summer institute on civil rights at Harvard University in 2011. She was one of 25 professors chosen for the program from more than 100 applicants nationwide. Wheeler draws heavily on that experience in the course she teaches on Race, Ethnicity, and Social Class in American Education, as well as in her role as chair of the Diversity Issues Subcommittee of the Transylvania President's Advisory Council.
Awards and honors
2011—Selected as a participant for the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Summer Institute at the W. E. B. DuBois Institute at Harvard University, "African American Struggles for Freedom and Civil Rights 1865–1965"
2011—Recipient of the Bingham Award for Teaching Excellence, Transylvania University
2009—Recipient of the Distinguished Alumni Award from the Albion High School Alumni Association, Albion, Michigan
2007—Recipient of the Bingham Start-Up Grant
2007—Selected as Phi Kappa Tau Faculty Member of the Year
2006—Selected as the Transylvania University Greek Advisor of the Year
2001-02—Elected to the Transylvania University Board of Trustees
Areas of research
Awards and honors
- Ed.D., University of Kentucky, 2007
- M.A., University of Kentucky, 1994
- B.A., Transylvania University, 1990
- Childrens Literature
- Constructivist Pedagogy
- The Immigrant Child
- Literacy in Written and Spoken Language for Primary Learners
- Interactive, Integrative Learning Climates
- Practicum in Learning Experiences
- Race, Ethnicity, and Social Class in American Education
- Supervised Teaching in the Primary School
- Supervised Teaching Middle Grades
- Supervised Teaching in High School
- Academic Career Skills
Areas of research
- Culturally responsive pedagogy
- Critical race theory
- Sociocultural perspectives of literacy instruction
- Race and ethnicity issues in education
- Wheeler, T. R. (2012). "Should all forms of ability grouping be eliminated in schools?" In C. J. Russo and A. G. Osborne (Eds.), Debating Issues in American Education. Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Sage Publications.
- Cantrell, S., and Wheeler, T. R. (2011). "Pedagogy/Instruction: Beyond best practices." In R. Powell and E. Rightmyer (Eds.), Literacy for All Students: An Instructional Framework for Closing the Gap (pp. 152-189). New York: Routledge.
- Wheeler, T. R., and El-Hindi Trail, A. (2010). "Teaching for equity: A transformationist approach." The AILACTE Journal, 7(1), 49-68.
- Lovelace, S., and Wheeler, T. (2006). "Cultural discontinuity between home and school language socialization patterns: Implications for teachers." Education, 127 (2), 303-309.
- American Educational Research Association (AERA)
- International Reading Association (IRA)
- Kentucky Reading Association (KRA)