Faculty Spotlight: Thaís São-João

Thaís São-João, Assistant Professor in the College of Nursing, is ATL’s April 2024 Faculty Spotlight.

What course(s) do you teach, or have you taught, at URI?
At the Undergraduate level, I’ve been teaching the didactic course NUR 233 – Introduction to Care of Adults and Older Adults—this Spring semester is the third time I’ve taught it since joining URI. I’ve also taught NUR 234 – Practicum: Care of Adults and Older Adults, a clinical course developed in healthcare settings, primarily hospitals. I’ve also collaborated with NUR 313 – Acute Care of Adults and Older Adults and NUR 243 – Pharmacotherapeutics for Nursing. At the graduate level, I co-taught NUR 661 – Integrative Review for Nursing Science in the PhD program.

What is one piece of teaching advice that you have received that you would like to pass on to others?
I learned from a distinguished Brazilian philosopher and educator, Paulo Freire (1921-1997), who advocated for liberatory pedagogy, that the learning experience must be democratic and respectful of the student. In his dialogical approach, students are active agents and use education as a form of self-development, which leads them to realize that knowledge is power. The teacher is a facilitator, and students are the protagonists of the learning experience. This philosophy framed my beliefs as an educator, and this is something I would definitely pass along: empower students! They are capable of much more than we can possibly provide.

What are the 3 qualities that you think make for a great teacher?
For teachers overall, but especially in Nursing, I believe Empathy is pivotal. Adaptability would be another one, given the intergenerational gaps between students and teachers and the advent of AI combined with technological advances. Being aware of our own biases is the third, and it involves different approaches; in my view – if I aim to meet my students where they are, I will make an effort to carefully and individually know them while recognizing my limitations.

Who is a teaching mentor that you have, and what did you learn from them?
My PhD advisor, Dr. Roberta Rodrigues, in Brazil, is an exemplary mentor. She was my advisor throughout my graduate studies and has continued to mentor me today. She taught me many things as a teacher and a researcher, but how to actively listen to patients and students was a very unique one. She also taught me how to use evidence-based Nursing in every lecture and how to keep up to date with topics taught at the UG and Graduate levels.

What do you hope students look back on in ten years and say about your class(es)?
I hope they had meaningful learning moments that they will cherish and that they remember being seen, heard, and respected.

How do you relax after a long day of teaching?
Spending time with my family is my number one thing! We read and cook together. I usually read Christian books while my daughter has Dragons or Harry Potter. My son loves baking any cake, especially brownies.

Share your favorite place to go in Rhode Island. Why is this your favorite place?
Wickford Village—I’m a fan of the atmosphere! The houses, the galleries, the antique shops, the waterfront cafes/restaurants—no matter what the season, Wickford has always something charming to do.