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Arkansas State University


Ryan Kelly

Dr. Ryan Kelly, Professor

"Embrace the complexity, strive to connect as many units of thinking in as many ways as you can, and push yourself to reflect and synthesize."

Degrees Held:

  • Ph.D. in Education/Literacy Education—Iowa State University, 2010
  • M.S. in Education/Reading—Iowa State University, 2008
  • B.A. in English—University of Iowa, 2001

Career Highlights:

  • A-State College of Education and Behavioral Science Faculty Achievement Award for Teaching (2015)
  • Iowa State University Teaching Excellence Award (2010)
  • Visiting Fellow of Harris Manchester College, University of Oxford, with the Summer Research Institute (July 2011)
  • Author of multiple articles on reading and literacy coaching, and over 30 academic conference presentations on reading, literacy coaching, qualitative methodology, and others
  • ​In which online degree program do you teach?

    MSE in Reading and Ed.S. in Reading

  • Which classes do you teach online?

    RDNG 6353, RDNG 6533, RDNG 7543, RDNG 7573, etc.

  • ​Why did you start teaching?

    My parents are retired elementary school teachers. Growing up with them, I witnessed two professionals who never regretted their jobs and always demonstrated fascination and engagement with what they did. It may not have been perfect, but it bought them satisfaction. The lifetime influence of that, plus mentoring by my high school English teachers and coursework in college, all seemed to come together.

  • What's the best advice that you ever received?

    As my grandmother used to say, "Go to school and get your lessons." I continued to do so until I completed my doctorate!

  • What's the best advice that you could give your students?

    I always tell my graduate students that the secret to effective graduate coursework (both on the teaching end of it, as well as the student side) is to embrace it as both a process and a product. Good graduate coursework exposes candidates to new field knowledge and stimulates discussion. Great graduate coursework does that as well, but also attempts fewer "tasks" but to a greater theoretical depth. Embrace the complexity, strive to connect as many units of thinking in as many ways as you can, and push yourself to reflect and synthesize.

  • ​What is the one book you think everyone should read?

    "Roughing It" by Mark Twain.

  • ​What qualities make someone particularly successful in the area in which you teach?

    Reading and literacy, as both a theoretical field and as an area of professional/pedagogical practice, requires the ability to understand the deep and rich theoretical background of literacy. Being able to "get under the hood" of literacy involves understanding the entire journey. Additionally, the ability to assess and analyze data on student learning, and articulate a sound rationale for the needed remediation are essential. Often, the best way to grow these skills is through research inquiry.

  • What do you think is the biggest challenge that educators face today?

    Education as a large field is currently a very charged one, highly charged with political policy and social ebb and flow. As a profession we're at a crucial time where we need to examine all perspectives, consider both policy and rigorously developed theory accordingly, and seek ways to more forward pragmatically with the best interests of students in mind.

  • ​Tell us something your students may not know about you.

    At the mere age of 8 years old I wrestled a mountain lion, which essentially ended in a draw. Not long after the creature was licking my face (much like the feel of fine grain sandpaper rubbing on your skin) and sprawled across my lap purring with the intensity of an off-balance washing machine. Granted, my uncle at the time was a wildlife conservationist and had rescued the mountain lion as a newborn when her mother was shot by poachers and raised her in his home. Nevertheless, I still count this as the apex in my short career of taming large wild animals and establishing a mutual understanding or caring and symbiotic living with them. In the years since, my skills have sadly waned and now all I can claim are a hamster and multiple backyard chickens.

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