Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The best teachers

Today I had to turn in draft 2 of my "teaching philosophy" for my instructional development class. I wrote a theme statement and some supporting bullet points, but then decided to take a different approach. I thought about the teachers whose classes I enjoyed the most and who made an impression with their teaching style. I immediately thought about Dr. M. as I have often in the past when thinking about great college classes.

While I was writing I thought: "Why not share this with someone who actually cares?" Dr. M. I mean. So I found his email address (he's still teaching though he must be getting close to retirement), and sent him my paragraph:

"When I think about teaching, I can’t help but recall some of the best teachers I’ve had over the years. In college, I took an Ancient History course taught by Dr. M. Dr. M. was passionate about the subject matter. He could lecture on Greece in 375 BC as if he’d lived there. He could discuss Plato like old friend with whom he’d just met over a beer. He’d lecture without notes and with such enthusiasm that he held his survey course of 300+ student in rapt attention, and we discussed The Last Days of Socrates outside of class like it was the latest and best piece of beach reading. I want to be a teacher like Dr. M.: incredibly knowledgeable, excited, charismatic, and able to bring the subject matter to life."

Dr. M. sent back a response this afternoon:

Well, this certainly makes my day, week, month and so on. The class was History 111, the first class in the Western Civ sequence, and one that I still teach and love to teach, especially since it generates comments such as yours. Above all, thanks for writing. It certainly makes the work worthwhile.

All the best,


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