Activity #1

Activity #1   Your Best Teachers

Think about the best teachers you’ve ever had — who comes to mind and why?  List 3 instructors or presenters, and identify 3 adjectives that made them effective.

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42 Responses to Activity #1

  1. Kristofer Scheid (Hamline University)

    Dr. Quinn (Grad School)
    1) Mastery of the subject
    2) An infectious enthusiasm for the subject
    3) Humor

    Dr. Boswell (High School)
    1) Humor (dark sense of)
    2) Challenging
    3) Intelligent

    Dr. Cady (College)
    1) Compassion
    2) Joy
    3) Mastery of the Subject
    4) innovative

  2. Terri Fishel says:

    I had to think carefully about this one because it’s been a long time since I was in school and while there are a number of individual teachers who stand out, I had way more memories of those who stood out because of negative issues. Also, when I was in college, we either had grad students teaching the small discussion groups, or large lecture halls with 300+ people. I was able to remember one faculty member who taught economic history – but I can’t remember his name. His qualities were:
    1. Passion for his subject which he was able to share
    2. Great storytelling
    3. Every lecture was interesting, informative, and spellbinding. I don’t think I missed one of his classes.

    Other teachers that I had that I respected had similar qualities:
    1. An ability to share their passion and create a passion in me for their subject
    2. Sense of humor
    3. Interested in me as a person – not just a student for the term/semester

  3. It’s difficult to limit myself to three adjectives for the teachers who affected me most. I could mix and match the traits I chose among my “top three”. Each teacher also had high expectations of and faith in his students.

    Mr. Fairbairn (H.S. American History)
    • Engaging
    • Enthusiastic
    • Knowledgeable

    Mr. Hallum (H.S. speech & drama)
    • Humorous
    • Caring
    • Knowledgeable

    Mr. Olson (college – music & theory courses)
    • Engaging
    • Knowledgeable
    • Innovative

  4. Angi Faiks says:

    The words and thoughts that come to mind for some of my favorite teachers (formal and informal ones) are: engaged, engaging, excited, friendly but not trying to be your best friend, authentically interested in others and wanting the best for them, still learning, generous, able to tap unknown potential, open to and always exploring the possibilities, approachable, and serious about their work but able to not take themselves too seriously so they can have fun in their work.

  5. Best teachers:
    Pam –
    1) Caring
    2) Sincere
    3) Used vivid examples in lectures – mental pictures that really helped the concepts “stick”

    Elizabeth –
    1) Well-prepared
    2) Funny
    3) Good “stage presence” (developed from a theatre background)

    Nicole –
    1) Responsive
    2) Genuine
    3) Created a good “atmosphere” in the classroom – a certain comfort level for that helped to encourage maximum participation from each student

    (All these examples are from graduate school. As you can see, we called these professors by their first names. All three were very “down-to-earth” and personable, yet they were highly respected by students – probably because of the qualities listed above.)

  6. Earleen Warner says:

    One of my college professors immediately comes to mind: Dr. Jim Johnson (American History), who taught a two-semester “Social and Intellectual History” course. He is difficult to describe in single adjectives. He was kind, witty, knowledgeable, and a great storyteller who could make history come alive. He genuinely cared about students as people–even those of us who were too shy to speak in class. I couldn’t wait to get to class to hear what he would have to say.

  7. Nancy Olson says:

    Dr. Chris Armstron
    1. challenging
    2. knowledgeable
    3. passionate about the subject

    High School American Literature Teacher
    1. challenging
    2. taught us to think deeply
    3. passionate about the subject

    College Economics Professor
    1. passionate about the subject
    2. committed to us as students
    3. applied the subject to our experience

  8. Ann Gannon says:

    Mr. Rhoda – HS Geometry
    1. Brought enthusiasm about subject and sense of humor
    2. Had a highly structured format to the class
    3. Had high expectations of student work and behavior

    Mr. Gamache – College – Sculpture
    1. Professional approach in an uncomfortable class (nude models)
    2. Provided positive constructive criticism and individual attention
    3. Broke down concepts well

    College – Modern American Lit
    1. Was challenging and encourage critical thinking and exploration
    2. Had high expectations
    3. Was very approachable

  9. Andrea Koeppe says:

    Dr. Ressler – MBA program
    1) Passionate
    2) Approachable
    3) He was able to make the class I dreaded the most (Business Statistics) a joy, and I remember so many of his ideas to this day.

    Mr. Almodar – High school Spanish
    1) Great sense of humor
    2) Enthusiastic
    3) Overall he is a very kind person

    Dr. Provost – Social History of the 20th century, undergrad.
    1) He has a keen, active mind
    2) Great communicator
    3) Absolutely hilarious. Even though at times his lectures were more akin to comedy routines I really learned a lot.

  10. Beth Hillemann says:

    Limiting to three is hard! But…

    1. The middle school teacher who was the first teacher for whom I tried really hard, consistently, throughout the year. He was: innovative, encouraging of individual talents, and funny.

    2. The college professor of history (Barbarian Europe, actually), who was clearly terrified of public speaking. He would back himself into the corner of his classroom, and would look above our heads as he spoke. But, he was: passionate about his subject, committed, and (frankly) brave to stand up there and just do it.

    3. The high school teacher of history who somehow enthralled restless teenagers. I always loved history, so I was an easy sell, but she captured the whole class! How? She told stories. Wondeful stories that conveyed far more than a mere listing of facts. She was: a storyteller, empathetic, highly organized.

  11. Sue Gray

    Anthropology/archaeology professor:
    * passionate and expert in his field
    * engaging presenter – told great stories
    * approachable – there wasn’t anything you couldn’t talk to him about

    High school social studies teacher:
    * challenged us everyday about our beliefs about race and class in American society (I didn’t come to appreciate his methods until I was older)
    * high expectations – he was tough
    * made the curriculum relevant (he was a human rights commissioner and brought the “real world” into the classroom)

    My third grade teacher:
    * enthusiastic
    * caring – went out of her way to draw out a shy kid
    * creative and innovative; made learning fun (erupting volcanoes in class!)

  12. Dave Collins says:

    First person into my head when I read the question was actually my 4th grade teacher, Mr. Roob. He was very “empowering” in the sense that he gave us control over our learning–we spent a lot of time with partners progressing through different levels in reading, spelling and math at our own pace. To pull this off he had to be “trusting” in the sense that he gave us the responsibility to spend a lot of time working independently. “Engaging” is the other word that comes to mind–because of him and his approach to teaching I had fun and was very engaged with my learning.

    Flashing forward to high school–Mrs. “V” handled upper level honors English classes. She also was a defacto college counselor, who took an intense personal interest in each of us and where we might go to college. She took me aside one day and told me about a college in the Twin Cities named “Macalester” that she thought would be a good fit for me. “Caring” describes her quite well. A true “professional,” she was a former president of the National Council of Teachers of English, and always exhibited a sense of mastery in her teaching. Finally, she was the driving force behind our high school’s annual 2-day experimental learning mini-course film festival that exposed us to all kinds of media-enriched learning outside of the regular day-to-day classroom fare. She was a model “life-long learner.”

    There are a number of college professors that come to mind–the ones that come up first were the best “facilitators” in the sense that it was less about them passing on their knowledge, and more about creating/maintaining a classroom environment in which ideas could be exchanged in a safe way that that valued inquiry over simply building subject expertise. These professors were often “co-learners” in the sense that their deep, rich backgrounds did not inhibit them from learning new things right along with us. They also were “genuine” in their approach to learning/instruction–if you encountered them outside of the formal classroom setting, you were getting the same person.

  13. My favorite (and best) teachers have been passionate about the subject matter, had a sense of humor and used that in class, and varied their teaching style (not just lecture only).

  14. I also think I might have more negative role models than positive ones, but here are three that come to mind:

    Mr. Boss (no kidding)–junior high social studies
    good questioner
    knew the subject he was teaching
    well organized
    my best social studies teacher in jr high/high school, and part of the reason I chose social studies as my field in college

    Miss Kolie–high school English and Spanish
    set high standards
    had a good sense of humor
    broadened our horizons to include other cultures

    Dr. Flood–graduate school reference prof.
    very knowledgeable about resources
    set high standards–no slacking off in his class
    approachable–willing to help anyone

  15. gregargo says:

    The teachers who made learning easy for me always had these three qualities:
    Sense of Humor
    Participatory Method
    Conversational Tone

  16. Laura Secord says:

    Steve Sheets (H.S. Sociology teacher)
    -engaging, enthusiastic presenter. passionate about what he was teaching
    -relevant
    -willing to tackle uncomfortable topics and able to draw the class into authentic conversation

    Geraldine (Jerry) King, PhD (MLIS Reference faculty)
    -high expectations
    -used varied approaches during the (3 hour) class period to keep the class engaged
    -interested in students who thought for themselves. Encouraged participation.

    Shane Nackerud (MLIS faculty…class in Web site design. Director of Web Development U of M)
    -well-prepared in class and provided detailed instructions for assignments
    -used humor and patience to teach html coding to students who had little or no background in computers. Provided lots of clever (and relevant) examples.
    -supportive and available

  17. Michael Mitchell says:

    The three teachers that come to mind are:

    Musicology professor:
    – Had high expectations for his students
    – Mastery of subject matter
    – Made himself available to students outside of class for additional help

    High school Civics teacher:
    – Passion for the material
    – Great sense of humor
    – Challenged students and encouraged participation

    Literature professor:
    – High expectations for students
    – Incredible lecturer/public speaker
    – Had the ability to convey complex ideas surrounding the material to a level suited for undergraduate students, while still getting students to push themselves.

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  19. Dora Wagner says:

    Middle School Band Director
    * held high expectations for all students
    * invested in students and their success
    * shared his love of the subject effectively

    High School English Teacher
    * sense of humor
    * respect for students, made evident through his trust in us to take responsibility for our learning
    * his ability to make everything, including Chaucer, relevant

    College English Professor
    * humor
    * his obvious knowledge and enjoyment of the subject
    * high expectations for critical engagement with the subject matter

  20. Aaron Albertson says:

    College professor Gordan –
    1) relatable – related to us, shared stories about himself when he was our age.
    2) humorous
    3) knowledgeable

    3rd grade
    1) Caring
    2) patient
    3) Enjoyed her work

    College professor Kari
    1) Respectful of all
    2) Honest and open with her own opinions
    3) knowledgeable

  21. Siobhan DiZio says:

    Dr. Bloom (English) — provided context; encouraged close reading; kept conversation lively.
    Dr. Hoffman (English) — provided context; required rigorous explication; never failed to be kind and engaged.
    Dr. Williams (MLIS) — provided context and challenging material; led great discussions; kept us laughing.

  22. Ginny Heinrich says:

    Catching up with all y’all…

    My best teachers:
    College art history professor – passionate, current, engaging
    Graduate library school professor – expert, accessible, responsive
    High school math teacher – demanding, humorous, knowledgeable

    Common threads: They all allowed their personalities to drive their teaching styles, but they also used multiple modalities to reach students. They all had high expectations for student performance, but they were also fair and responsive to individual student concerns. They also gave consistent, regular feedback.

  23. Amy Mars says:

    6th Grade Teacher:
    He always found a way to take something fun and turning it into a learning experience, or vice versa.
    1. funny
    2. animated
    3. challenging

    Sociology Professor:
    She was very passionate about the discipline so it was almost impossible not to think the material was profoundly important and interesting.
    1. passionate
    2. engaging
    3. strong/confident

    Comedy (CSCL) Professor
    He was able to see below the surface of pop culture/comedy and explain the philosophical underpinnings of comedy in an edgy and thought-provoking way.
    1. smart/thoughtful
    2. funny/accessible
    3. well-spoken

  24. Lyndi Finifrock says:

    college sociology prof- funny, high standards, used relevant and eye-opening examples/materials
    college art prof- caring, hands-on instruction, laid-back
    college english prof- very gentle and kind, offered guidance but didn’t give the answers, went deep

  25. Becky Schleicher says:

    3rd grade teacher –
    – consistent; funny; present
    college prof –
    – challenging; passionate; nurturing
    college prof –
    – engaging; challenging; passionate

  26. Ellen Holt-Werle says:

    The 3 that I can think of (Middle School Earth Science teacher and 2 professors) had these things in common: their passion for and knowledge about their subject came through clearly; they were demanding but fair; and they had a great sense of humor.

  27. Derek Johnson says:

    College Economics Professor:
    1. Engaging
    2. Challenging
    3. Intelligent

    College Statistics Professor:
    1. Confident
    2. Created an welcome environment
    3. Humorous

    High School Teacher:
    1. Supportive
    2. Enthusiastic
    3. Well prepared

  28. Rhonda Gilbraith says:

    Mr. Warner, High School English:
    1. Challenging–We read and discussed tough, long, mature books
    2. Casual, conversational style, but never talked down to us
    3. Good sense of humor

    Jim Holmes & Phil Carlson–co-teachers of a college calculus class
    1. Great ability to connect with a large class in a stadium-style lecture hall–they each knew names and interacted individually with students during the full-class session
    2. Lively, funny, variable lecture style
    3. They made calculus–a subject I feared and wasn’t naturally good at–clear, attractive & accessible

    Tom Clayton, Prof of English
    1. Brilliant command of subject and mesmerizing lecturer
    2. Wickedly funny
    3. Motivated you to meet his very high standards

  29. Karen Dubay says:

    Mrs. McFee: fourth grade teacher (and later a good friend)
    a. knowledgeable
    b. craft activities to make learning memorable and fun
    c. seek to know us as learners and people

    Mr. Dill: high school English teacher
    a. knowledgeable
    b. held us to high standards
    c.dramatic (to make him memorable and fun)

    Mary Water: adjunct grad school professor
    a. knowledgeable (do you see a theme here?)
    b. listener: she would note what she couldn’t answer and come back the next session with the answer)
    c. problem solver

  30. jmorf says:

    My grade school principal (also 8th grade teacher)
    a. She challenged us to succeed
    b. did not talk down to us
    c. expected more from us than other teachers

    My 10th grade English teacher
    a. Expanded our interests by introducing us to new things
    b. encouraged us
    c. she got to know us individually

    Grad School professor
    a. knowledgeable
    b. interesting
    c. shared experiences

  31. Geruth Buetow says:
    Parent: information & instruction supplied on an “as needed” basis
    explained & modeled how to interpret information so became source of own knowledge
    acknowledged others opinions
    Grad School Professor:
    knowledgeable & made information accessible
    set high expectations
    ability to acknowledge each individual in class & their contribution to the collective
    learning experience
    School Age Child Care Training Network:
    thoughtful process for structuring & implementing training & instruction
    developing a professional climate where cooperative practices, sharing resources,
    & mentoring were valued & integral to the instruction process
    assessment component built in as an integragal part of the instruction

  32. Kent Gerber says:

    1. 9th Grade English Teacher Mrs. Sammet
    a. Brought a positive and bright energy to the classroom.
    b. Had a personal interest in me and engaged me when I said I didn’t like English at the time.
    c. Used frequent class discussion and made sure that we interacted with each other.
    d. (full disclosure: she was also pretty which I suppose didn’t hurt)

    2. 10th Grade Biology teacher
    a. great sense of humor
    b. did really cool demonstrations that often involved us and got our attention.
    c. allowed us to do scientific experiments and demonstrations that opened our eyes to the amazing ways that life works.

    3. MSLIS Professor Scott Nicholson
    a. engaging sense of humor
    b. showed us amazing things that librarians can do, particularly with search and Web tools.
    c. Found ways for us to participate in class and rarely used only lecture.

  33. Ruth McGuire says:

    In high school, the teachers I liked best were ones who were enthusiastic about their subjects and genuinely wanted to help me do well. In college, I enjoyed the profs best whose classes aligned with my own interests. They had depth of knowledge on subjects of great interest to me and were able to share it in a way that significant learning took place on my part. Also, I appreciated profs who took time in the classroom for pauses, for eye contact, for relating.

  34. Deborah Kloiber says:

    High School calculus teacher:
    Enthusiastic about teaching and knowledgeable, but was as dedicated to teaching us life lessons as to teaching us math. I remember the day he made us write in our notebooks: “Everyone is born an original and dies a copy,” and still try (even if I’m not always successful) to live up to the idea of not letting the spontaneous 4-year old in me become too overcome by societal conventions. And the last day of class was amazing. He spent the entire period going around the room and one by one telling us what he had learned during the year about who we were.

    College American politics and constitutional law professor:
    Excelled at the Socratic method; he could, and would, argue against you no matter what you said, even if he actually agreed with you. Forced us to critically examine issues and ideas, and take a stand. In papers, we had to state a position and support it—no waffling or grey areas were allowed. It really made me think about what I believed and why.

    Grad school reference professor:
    Allowed us to think outside the box, and taught there are multiple ways to respond to users. Used storytelling effectively to illustrate ideas and situations we might encounter professionally. Encouraged us to think about and discuss our process, not just focus on the end result, and set aside class time for us to learn from each other.

    All three of these shared a wonderful ability to engage with students, a sense of humor, and a passion for and dedication to what they were teaching.

  35. Mary Lou Steiner says:

    The three teachers that come to mind all shared similar traits. All three were compassionate and caring for others, knowledgeable about their subject(s), and had the ability to clearly explain the topics they were teaching. I enjoyed going to the classes these individuals taught. Because of these teachers I did readings outside of class for personal enjoyment.

  36. Valerie Aggerbeck says:

    I agree with many of the comments that were made – knowledge of the subject matter and a passion for the topic are crucial! However, I also think that my personal interest in the topic was key as to whether or not I enjoyed the professor. A professor could have no sense of humor or not be the most compassionate but I would still love the class (and the professor) because of the topic itself. I tended to respond better to professors who lectured rather than professors who used the Socratic method – probably based on my personality. Finally, I liked professors who provided extensive feedback on assignments – I always found it helpful and would attempt to use the comments I received when writing subsequent assignments.

  37. Denise says:

    In the early years of education, it is the teachers who showed an interest in me as an individual that are memorable. In the later years of secondary education, it is those that were knowledgeable and enthusiastic about their subject and used hands on activities to enhance learning that come to mind. In post secondary education, the memorable teachers shared these four characteristics: 1. knowledgeable and enthusiastic about their subject. 2. encouraged critical thinking by incorporating various viewpoints and types of class materials and valuing varying student viewpoints in discussions. 3. used interesting, creative assignments that were akin to real tasks one would encounter on the job and not repetitive busywork. 4. were demanding/challenging

  38. Will Keillor says:

    Dr. Harris had a keen intellect, but the use of this was to appreciate the “intelligence” of my perspective, even if that intelligence hadn’t actually been formative to my response. I found that the peculiar way in which this was done revealed the space where a more intelligent, knowledgeable me might reside. To put it another way, she treated every perspective with empowering respect.

    My h.s. chemistry teacher. Her mastery and enthusiasm for the material made performing well in her class worthwhile, because it allowed you to see how learning can help you enjoy a richer world together with others. This was a unique glimpse of a motivational force quite distinct from “objective measures” like grades.

    A religion prof who had strong perspective quite different from my own. However, he allowed me to spend many office hours outside of class discussing these points with him. I didn’t realize at the time how much of a challenge it must have been for him to take this time to talk with me, and how gracious it was of him to do so. Although, now that I’ve done some teaching, I realize that my engagement with the material was very likely appreciated by him.

  39. ellie says:

    The teachers that stand out the most in my memory are the ones that challenged each student to grow, wherever they were in their process. I also agree with others who have pointed to enthusiasm and a wry sense of humor.

  40. Johan Oberg says:

    A college professor I had in history of ideas at Stockholm University (can’t remember his name). 1) Mastery of the subject. 2) An infectious enthusiasm for the subject. 3) Humor. His lectures were great – the development of ideas in philosophy, science, medicine, literature, etc from antiquity to modern times, narrated with the energy and flow of a Dan Brown novel. I still remember most of the things he talked about.

  41. Leslie Mollner says:

    My middle school Social Studies teacher was amazing. Three of her best traits included her ability to include all of her students in class discussions and projects, her passion and love for the subject matter, and her overall fairness.

    My high school Math teacher also had many great traits but the most important were his absolutely superb sense of humor, his friendly approach to math (a hard subject for many, including me), and his easy going personality.

    My college Philosophy professor was my favorite teacher of all time. He was so good, I chose to take additional Philosophy classes (Psychology was my major) just to have him again as my instructor. Like my high school Math teacher, my Philosophy professor was hilarious. He also had a wonderful way of making the topics understandable and was very approachable and caring.

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