ASM events
This conference is managed by the American Society for Microbiology
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A. My teaching responsibilities

  • BIO 312 - Conservation Biology - syllabus
  • BIO/NATSC 385 - Soil Ecology with Lab - syllabus
  • BIO 430 - Urban Ecosystems
  • NATSC 203 - Humans, environmental change and sustainability  syllabus
  • CORE 101 - Science: Discoveries in Context- syllabus
  • SUST 101 - Introduction to Sustainability Studies - syllabus
  • SUST 401 - Working toward Sustainability


B. My teaching challenges

Apart from the day-to-day struggles, I most often feel challenged in my teaching by the search to find a balance of rigor and and challenge in my courses, assignment and assessment. As is true for many professors, I want to challenge my students as much as possible, but in ways that are appropriate to their level and thus not excessively challenging so as to only frustrate them--perhaps this can be called a "Goldilocks" problem. However, I often feel challenged in this search because what I think is fair and appropriate often seems to be too challenging to the students. Whenever I make an exam, chosoe reading assignments, etc., the dualing voices in my head debate whether it is challenging enough, too challenging or just right. One of those voices is overly sympathetic to the students and attempts to connvince me to be "nice" and not challenge the students as much as the other voices would like to. It seems that students are becoming more and more reticent and disgruntled by appropriately challenging work, even if it just reading ~25 pages of text and writing an open-ended response. I stand by a committment to challenge all my students but it is challenging to put this committment into practice when students don't always appreciate or rise to meet the challenge. I fear that too often the student-sympathetic voice in my head wins the debate.  


C. My professional development goals

I know it sounds cliche but the first response that comes to mind is that I want to become the best teacher that I can. I want to create dynamic courses and lessons that ask students to stretch their minds and engage with content in meaningful ways. I want to help them enjoy learning and understand the value of knowledge for its own sake and for its ability to help one achieve personal goals (be they career-, civic- or lifestyle-related). To achieve this, I want to develop professionally by learning about and implementing the best ways to design lessons, assess learning and motivate students to achieve rigorous learning outcomes. I also want to continuously improve my "classroom persona" so that I can interact and communicate effectively with students while challenging them but clearly showing them respect. I want to increase my abilities for communicating to students forthrightly about 1) why I do what I do in the classroom, 2) why they should be doing what I hope they will do and 3) instances when they have not achieved learning outcomes. In sum, I am striving to become a teacher that is able to provide students with the critical feedback they need to understand what they have and have not learned and how they can work to increase their learning.

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