Every time I arrange my schedule for the upcoming semester, I spend at least an hour on ratemyprofessor.com. For those unacquainted with this website, Rate My Professor is a forum where university students–as the name implies–rate their professors. As superficial as this seems, a professor’s approval rating is a huge indicator whether or not I will sign up for his or her class.
With the start of a new semester, many will meet professors and teachers for the first time. I felt that I could dedicate this post to two of my favorite professors.
This past spring term, I took Professor Rice’s TELL 410 class. Because she was a middle school teacher, she insisted we call her Mary, knowing that one day anyone of us could potentially become a teacher with whom she could work with.
Mary was a fountain of knowledge when it came to the subject of teacher education. She knew what qualities good teachers posses, and she insisted that we develop these qualities. Perhaps what impressed me the most, however, was her personal teaching philosophy. Mary is able to push her students so that they do things that are very difficult. For example, one year, she had her middle school students read Homer’s Odyssey—a book that I didn’t read until my third year in college! When I asked how she was able to get young students to read this book, she explained that she simply expected her students to read the piece and enjoy it.
As with her middle school students, she gave us many challenging assignments, and when we found these tasks difficult she refused to let us give up. On a number of occasions, she insisted that we discuss our opinions about education using the new terms we learned during the course. Since these terms were highly academic and still fairly new to the class, we had trouble using this new information to formulate our own thoughts. Mary had no trouble watching us struggle, and continued to push us until we could correctly apply the course principles. This was a lesson to me that the best teachers sometimes let their students struggle instead of quickly rescuing them from difficult situations.
Professor Anderson was my CPSE 402 instructor. By the end of the first class period, he knew the names of every student in the class. I was very impressed! He was determined that every one of his students would do well in the class as well as have success in our future careers in teaching. He made sure that everyone understood the concepts he taught by reviewing important information every day. This reviewing was so effective; I still remember many of the laws pertaining to education.
In my own teaching, I want to incorporate Professor Anderson’s concern for his students. Often when people remember their college instructors, they remember stuffy old men who wear tweed jackets and spend as little time as possible helping students. Professor Anderson was far from this stereotype. He had personal interaction with each student almost every day. His memory for people is astounding! He remembered my major as well as the major of every other student in the class. He remembered the individual questions we asked, and continually addressed those questions throughout the semester so that we were sure to know the answers by the end of the course. At the end of his class, I felt it was possible for me to actually help my future students on an individual basis.
There are many other wonderful professors I have had at BYU. I would like to hear from you. Who have been some of your best education professors? What made them great, and what did you learn from them as teachers?