Crystal Machado

Crystal Machado

At first, Crystal Machado thought she should avoid teaching and should study business. But soon after earning her first college degree, she started listening to the voices that said otherwise. She’s glad she did. Learn more about her in this installment of Meet Our Faculty.

What is it about the education field that initially drew you in—and that ultimately keeps you interested?  

My mother began teaching when I started first grade. Our home was always filled with students, because she tutored after school, too. I helped tutor some of them from the age of 10 and got paid for tutoring when I was 13. My mother often asked me to tutor her students with special needs, because she thought I was patient and kind. Even though I began to enjoy tutoring, I decided that I didn’t want to follow in my mother’s footsteps, because teaching is hard. My attempt to escape this profession by pursuing a degree in business was in vain.

Teaching picked me. I am so glad it did. Few things give me more joy than teaching. To sustain my interest and master the art of teaching, I earned a second undergraduate degree in teaching, a master’s degree in elementary education, a master’s in school administration, and a doctorate in educational leadership. I am so glad I did not listen to the voice in my head. I enjoy designing learning experiences that help students learn new skills, develop confidence, and discover their potential. I enjoy listening to their thoughts and opinions as they grapple with new ideas. For me, the best days of the week are days when I teach.  

Why do you enjoy teaching in this discipline? 

I love reading and grappling with new ideas, so a career in education, with an emphasis on curriculum, instruction, and leadership was the obvious choice. To me, teaching is not a job, it is a vocation. I love everything about it. I experience “flow” when I plan, design, and deliver instruction.

Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi described flow as “a state in which people are so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter; the experience is so enjoyable that people will continue to do it even at great cost, for the sheer sake of doing it.”

I enjoy designing instruction that helps students develop 21st-century skills, better known as the 4Cs: communication, collaboration, critical thinking, and creativity. I want my students to be prepared to pivot and deliver high-quality instruction, not just in classrooms, but also on the web. Hard work and dedication are always rewarded. This year I received IUP’s Distinguished Faculty Award for Teaching and the College of Education Award for Research.

What advice would you give students about how to succeed in college? 

Life is all about relationships. To succeed in college and life, IUP students need to become active members of our campus community by participating actively in classes, clubs, and organizations. This experience will make it easier for them to build relationships with other students, faculty, and staff. Students also need to enhance their global literacy and cultural competence by being curious, asking questions, and engaging in critical, caring, and reflective dialogue with people who may be different from them.

They should defy the limitations of time and space by using social media to expand their horizons and to connect with people and professionals in their field in other parts of the world. College life can be very stressful; students can make a huge difference by being compassionate and kind to others who may be struggling.