Paula Ellister

Romance Languages | 541-346-0954

Courses: Supervisor of First-year Spanish, Span 100-Span 300 Courses

In my classes you will:

  • Interact during exciting, participatory class meetings.
  • Explore new perspectives.

I was invited into the Teaching Academy because:

  • I participated in the UO Summer Teaching Institute.

In what ways are you working to make your teaching inclusive?

Creating the conditions for an inclusive learning environment is key to my teaching philosophy. It is my goal and pleasure to get to know my students (background, family, obstacles, goals) and to customize my lessons to meet their needs and to make sure that they understand the importance of their role in our classroom community. It is my responsibility to provide the welcoming environment that leads to the formation of a supportive and inclusive community.

What do you do in terms of professional engagement with the teaching and learning culture on campus or nationally?

I was fortunate to have been chosen to participate in the Teaching First-Year Students Pathways of the UO Summer Teaching Institute this past year. In my more than twenty five years as an Instructor of Spanish, this week-long session was the most transformative and impactful. I think my colleagues are tiring of my constant reference to all I learned! As a member of the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages, I regularly attend and present at their conferences across the US. In addition, I make sure to attend workshops and talks on campus and away to keep abreast of new and best practices within and outside this institution. I am fortunate to be supported by the Yamada Language Center on campus. Each year I participate in their Foreign Language and International Studies Day. This annual event brings students in high schools across the state to the UO to experience languages. Each year, a colleague and I present to over one hundred perspective UO students.

In what ways was your teaching in this course research-led—informed by research on how students learn and inflected by UO's research mission?

As the supervisor of first-year Spanish, I have the opportunity to share my vision with all teachers of Span 100 classes. I emphasize a focus on small-group discussions, from personal in nature to global. My latest research-led modification has been the addition of cross-cultural/global reflection in our small-group and class discussions and in writing assignments in both English and Spanish.

What’s the most inspiring classroom moment you’ve experienced?

The most inspiring moment I have in the classroom is when a student discovers that the material they are using and learning in class has real-world application. When a student excitedly tells me that they were able to engage in a conversation in Spanish with someone in the community or with a family member or that they were able to understand parts of a conversation they overhead in public. I get chills when students realize that they are emerging bilinguals.

My two favorite novels are…

Reading and hiking are my passions outside the classroom. While I enjoy reading in both English and Spanish, by two favorite novels are The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver and East of Eden by John Steinbeck. I recently purchased the newly published Unsheltered by Kingsolver and look forward to reading it over the break. Hiking brings me health, peace and joy. My favorite local spot is Mount Pisgah. You can find me there with my husband or sons many late afternoons and on the weekend.