The Village that Supports a Teacher

So, Friday the semester begins for the pilot version of a new – more than revised while still holding to core principles – Preparing Future Faculty “Teaching in Higher Education” course I’m launching. It’s taken a month or a year or a lifetime to create this course, depending on the perspective I take.  One month of engrossing syllabus crafting, a year of playful and intensive course re-design, a lifetime of doing learning and teaching.  So time to say thanks to the village and the communities that inspired me across the lifetime, the year, the month.

I have two colleagues who have unwaveringly supported me shaping this new course. That they believe, exemplify and support others’ efforts to bring innovation, creativity, caring, research, school-community-life links and collaborative meaning making, testing, evaluating and on-going revision of meaning to what we’re about as uni teachers is a daily gift. So, Christina Petersen and Jane O’Brien thank you for generous play and feedback and for sharing your own new, next steps.   My CTL colleagues Kate Martin, Mary Jetter, Connie Tzenis, Bill Rozaitis and Chris Parker have been generous collaborators on related projects that helped me think through aspects of the course re-design.

While I can’t say what might have been had the original plans for my Fall 2010 leave in the UK not shifted, I can say that what did fall into place for and during that semester fed my brain and heart as richly as has Madeline Dawn. Both experiences have been about learning, play and about simply wonderful, honestly complex, brain-affirming and lifewide/lifelong conversations.  Most central to all of this, Jaye McIsaac and Cristina Costa also like talking about learning and teaching as much as I do – and they like the peer feedback, collaboration, swapping of fideas bits as well. And they introduced me to Jad, Mhorag, Emma, and David so that I got to keep thinking with PhD students about the learning and teaching and writing they were doing as current and future faculty.  Rather than “I Won’t Learn from You” with you lot – “I Will Learn Because of You.”

And to those communities of my learning past who shared – and still share – ideas about learning and teaching so generously; all of them mentors once and always: Suzy, Lisa, Kim-o, Neala, Elizabeth, Brad, Carolyn L, Bucklin.  And Dennis Moore and Cleo Martin and Doug Trank who were the ones to cheer me on everytime I took on a scary course assignment at UIowa – even when those assignments weren’t in the Rhetoric Department!

And thanks to Lynn Clark and Fred Garnett because you carry in your heads and your hearts your own particular teacher-learner-social justice worker brain heroes (akin to my Septima Clark, Myles Hotron, Bob Moses and John Lewis heroes) and you share the ways you draw on this rich genealogy to inspire the words/work you imagine, invent, carry forward, support, provoke, demand, nudge, do and sustain across many communities.

But most of all – thanks above all to

* two teachers: Scott Shrewsbury and Carolyn Shrewsbury, the two teachers who – after being in college four four years – pointed out positively that I learned in other ways, and who regularly taught with the many ways we all learned in mind, and who openly expected each and supported every one of their students to be responsible learners – as individual, as peers, as communities of learners about to enter a world of communities.

* to my recent co-teachers and since Iowa friends, Pat Nunnally, Tim Gustafson, and my UMinn frequent collaborators when it comes to mentoring students, Andy Howe and Esam El-Fakahany, for beers and feedback.

* and to the now hundreds of graduate students and postdoctoral fellows who’ve let me learn with them.


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