So, I just found out last night that I’m a finalist for LSUS’s 2009 Professor of the Year award.Â Â It’s an incredible honor, and I am very humbled.Â Basically, students had to go out of their way to vote for their favorite professor and enough voted for me that I made the top 20.Â
I’m shocked, to be honest.Â Not least because it’s my first year here, and I don’t have any massive lecture courses or anything like that.Â I didn’t even know the award existed until a week ago, when a student told me that she’d voted for me.
Anway, I want to thank all the students who voted for me and all of my students, in general.Â You lot challenge me constantly and definitely keep me on my toes.
Some of my friends and former colleagues in the teaching biz have asked me, “What’s your secret?”Â Â Ha!Â I wish I knew.Â Because when I review my teaching for any given day, I mostly focus on every time I nearly swore (constant!) and every time I lost my pen in my hair.Â I have a surprising amount of hair, and it eats pens.Â
So I don’t know what I do, to be honest.Â I try to treat my students with respect, which I think means having high standards for them.Â I try to reward the students who work, and I have no problem failing the students who don’t.Â I try to make my expectations as clear as possible and to make sure that they know my door is always open to them.Â And, when it’s not, they can always make an appointment.Â I do try to make class “fun,” but not in a way that demeans them or their purpose in going to university.Â They’re not here to play games, or do stuff they did in high school.Â They’re here to learn and be challenged, and I try to do that in a way that is open, accessible, and doesn’t make academia into some secret society where we all speak jargon and take ourselves too seriously.Â Not least because it’sÂ hard to take yourself seriously when you’re searching through your ponytail for your pen.Â
Finally, despite my normally rather curmudgeonly ways, I try to give a little extra to the students who are ambitious and want more out of university.Â A lot of people are just here, as they are at any place of higher education, to get a piece of paper that opens up opportunities for better jobs.Â But some are here for more than that.Â To those students, I try to give as much as I can.Â I know how important certain teachers and professors were in my own development, and if I can be half the mentor to my students as my really great professers were to me, I’ll die a happy lady.
So thank you so much, to all of my students.Â Being a finalist for this award means more to me that I could ever have imagined.