College-Wide Outstanding Part-Time Faculty Member 2019-2020 - Patrick Idzik

Patrick Idzik

College of DuPage Speech Communication Adjunct Faculty member Patrick Idzik was selected as the College-Wide Outstanding Adjunct Faculty Member for 2019-2020.

Representing the Arts, Communication and Hospitality Division, Idzik will receive a $500 award from the College of DuPage Foundation, which annually recognizes outstanding teaching achievement.

Idzik said he felt incredibly honored to be named Outstanding Adjunct Faculty Member.

“Like so many educators here at COD, I have invested a great deal of time and effort in an attempt to bring the material to life and make it connect with students,” he said. “When you hear that your lessons inspire people to do better, try harder or think critically about something, you know you have made a difference.”

Idzik has taught sections of Speech 1100 and nonverbal communication classes, as well as a Speech 1100 class designed particularly for culinary and hospitality students. After earning his Associate in Arts in General Studies at COD, he went on to earn a Bachelor of Arts in Speech Communication and Rhetoric from DePaul University and his master’s degree in Communications from Michigan State University. He is currently working toward an Ed.D. at Aurora University with a focus on communication in the classroom.

A resident of Bloomingdale, Idzik said he approaches teaching with a focus on practicality, needs-based learning and ethical consideration. He added that since college can be a challenging time for students who are finding their identity, cultural understanding and empathy play a strong role in his lessons.

“Knowing what students need is essential in helping them retain information, so I keep up to date on research and trends in the field,” he said. “I also ask students what topics they would like to discuss early in the semester, do research on them and change my lessons accordingly to meet their needs. This way, students have a voice in what they learn, and I get to better understand their needs. Also, I strongly believe educators have an ethical consideration when addressing their students. I make sure the material I present meets a high level of scrutiny and peer review. I ask my students to do the same, sparking the critical thinking and skepticism needed in today’s world.”

Idzik, who has worked as a purchasing manager at his family’s engineering company and a divorce mediator, credits his high school history teacher with inspiring his passion for teaching and learning. While Idzik said he tries to make his lessons fun and engaging for students, there is one primary element to which he owes his success. 

“In short, I listen to my students,” he said. “I can’t know the level of stress they are feeling, so I ask about it. I ask what they’re anxious about, or how their day is going. They crave an outlet to express emotions that they’re only now feeling in some cases, allowing for raw and meaningful discussion. These conversations inform me about what trends my lessons should focus on, and have helped me form presentations on depression, social anxiety, abusive relationships and the effect of social media influence. Students listen to and engage much deeper with topics that affect them.”

He said he enjoys the challenges and opportunities that go along with teaching speech communications.

“Almost everyone hates public speaking and now they’re mandated to take this class,” he said. “That’s a pretty rough start. Because everyone must take speech, one class can be composed of dozens of different cultures, majors, races, creeds, abilities and backgrounds. Teaching a lesson where you can break through all the qualitative differences between people and connect with shared ideas is exceptionally challenging, and worth every second of effort.”

Pleased with his experiences at COD as both a former student and now a faculty member, Idzik said he is most impressed with the available resources at the College.

“When I was a student at COD over a decade ago, I had no idea how many opportunities I was surrounded by,” he said. “Now that I’m an instructor, I have the chance to go back and see all the parts of the College I missed out on. I get my haircut by cosmetology students in Addison, buy plants from our greenhouse, eat lunch at our incredible Wheat Cafe, peruse student galleries during breaks, take advantage of our incredible library resources and, most importantly, I tell my students about all of it. They get excited and engaged when they realize that their school has a lot more to offer than they initially thought.”

Learn more about the Speech Communication program at College of DuPage.