Colleen Swain is Undergraduate Teacher of Year

To start each semester, Colleen Swain, an associate professor in curriculum and instruction, spends about 15 minutes with every student in her two classes, asking about their lives and goals as future educators and using their feedback to help her create tailored, real-world examples of teaching situations to model and discuss in class.

“I probably do some things that take up enormous amounts of time, but I find it so important,” Swain said.

She shows students that she practices what she preaches. To Swain, getting to know her students personally is an extremely effective teaching method.

Her desire—and success—in connecting with her students helps to explain her recent selection as the College of Education’s 2012 Undergraduate Teacher of the Year.

Swain teaches instructional methods and classroom management in the School of Teaching and Learning’s five-year ProTeach program, which allows students to earn a master’s degree in subject-area teaching–such as English, history, math and science–and qualify for a Florida Professional Teaching Certificate at the middle-grade and high school levels.

In describing her teaching philosophy, Swain says she bases her lessons on three objectives: to inspire and challenge students, support their academic efforts and provide in-depth experiences.

“Professor Swain lives and breathes education and connecting with her students,” said Carmen Roberto, a student in Swain’s Effective Teaching in Secondary Classrooms course.

When Roberto mentioned she was having difficulty writing her lesson plans, Swain immediately met with her to discuss her problem areas. Swain stuck with her until Roberto showed she had grasped the process and was ready to proceed.

Last summer, Swain was one of three UF educators selected to participate in the college’s Shewey Scholars program, in which they collaborate with Alachua County middle school teachers to research and discuss middle-school reform issues and strategies.

She also co-coordinates the college’s popular, job-embedded Teacher Leadership for School Improvement (TLSI) graduate degree program, a key component of the UF Lastinger Center’s groundbreaking Master Teacher Initiative which won the Association of Teacher Educators’ coveted Distinguished Program in Teacher Education Award.

Swain has been on the college faculty since 1997and served as both associate director and graduate coordinator of the School of Teaching and Learning from 2005 to 2009.

Her interdisciplinary Ph.D. from the University of North Texas focused on curriculum instruction, adult education and computers in education. It reflects on her interests in teacher practice and influence by policies, technology issues in the classroom and equity of available resources to students.

Whether teaching undergraduates, advanced-degree students or practicing teachers, Swain commits herself to her classes and teaching craft.

“I strive to inspire my students,” Swain said, “and let them know that whatever career they select, whatever they do, they are important and can make a difference in people’s lives.”




     SOURCE: Colleen Swain, associate professor, UF College of Education, (w) 352-273-4226;

     MEDIA RELATIONS: Larry Lansford, director, news & communications, UF College of Education, 352-273-4137;

    WRITER: Nicole La Hoz, student intern, news & communications, UF College of Education,