Sunday, February 18, 2007
I recently found out that I'm slated to receive a campus teaching award, and I couldn't be happier. The best part just might be the many congratulations I've received from my colleagues and students. (Well, OK, the best part is that there was some money involved, but well-wishes are very nice.) Kidding aside, though, my attitude toward teaching at the university level is much like my attitude toward research. Even though my form of research seems like a solo pursuit -- reading old manuscripts in archives, composing book-length prose in front of my computer screen -- it is really a collaborative conversation in which I am constantly learning from my peers (and benefiting from their critique). In the same way, I see my teaching as part of a collaborative conversation. In classes large and small, my teaching success is directly dependent on the hard work of graduate teaching assistants and the valuable time of faculty guest-lecturers. My own teaching style was inspired and influenced by that of my graduate advisers, and I strive in a similar way to model both effective instructional techniques and enthusiastic educational attitudes in my classroom work. And really, no one on this campus could possibly hope to become an effective teacher -- let alone win any awards doing it -- if they weren't housed in a department which took its undergraduate and graduate teaching responsibilities seriously at all levels. Hopefully all departments on our campus do this -- but I can say for certain that my two departments do. So thanks back to the rest of UW-Madison for letting me care about my teaching in the first place.