The U has plenty of accomplished and top-rate professors, but according to ratemyprofessors.com, John Funk is the best of them all.
Funk is the dean of the College of Education and a professor in educational psychology through the Urban Institute for Teacher Education. From getting his master’s in early childhood education at the U to his 25 years of teaching public school, Funk has made a study and a passion out of teaching. He received the Distinguished Teaching Award in 2010 as recognition for this.
“When I was getting my master’s, I was discouraged,” Funk said. “Some professors were some of the most boring human beings I had met. I thought, this person teaching me to be a teacher is a terrible model, and so I decided I had to teach teachers the right strategies myself.”
Funk has focused on strategy in teaching and maintaining the interest of his audience throughout his career. He began teaching in Granite School District and supervised Head Start, a program that supports mental and emotional development in children, while teaching evening classes at the U. Funk’s focus was on children’s literature, so he spent time teaching kindergarten and first grade. He’s applied what he learned there to his classes at the university.
“I make it different each week,” Funk said. “I don’t just do lectures, I do hands-on techniques. I have found that college students respond as positively as children.”
Maintaining focus in the classroom is a big priority for Funk, but so is relationship building. Connections with his students is a priority, whether it’s helping them to understand a topic or working around any of their life issues that conflict with school.
John Tolokan, a senior in elementary education, has experienced Funk’s teaching methods first-hand.
“The qualities that I admire in John include his teaching abilities, his knack for problem-solving and his overwhelming patience with students and pre-teachers alike,” Tolokan said.
Tolokan said that Funk’s teaching strategies are admirable in the classroom. Tolokan was unsure about his future in teaching, but he said Funk helped by showing him the importance of teaching.
Demi Brog, a senior in elementary education, is in Funk’s cohort for her Elementary Education Licensure Program. She said many times she’s had questions about the best strategies in teaching, and Funk always answers them.
“He is an inspiration to all of us,” Brog said. “He pushes us to be the best teacher we can be and to provide the best education for elementary education students.”