List of 2007 Awardees
Dr. Ann Austin is a professor of Higher, Adult, and Lifelong Education in the Department of Education Administration. The thirteen doctoral students who recommended Ann for this award were effusive in their descriptions. Among the adjectives they used to describe Ann and her teaching were “honest,” “affirming,” “engaged,” “hard working,” “critical,” “supportive,” and “collaborative.” They also noted that she exerted a “profound” influence on them, all the while “maintaining high expectations.” These were not comments on the end-of-course SIRs forms; they were made by a group of 2nd year doctoral students who had taken Ann’s course early on and were recalling their introduction to the program, to the material, and to the faculty. And 18 months later, they came together, reflected on their earlier experience, and nominated Ann, a teacher whom they commonly describe as “a model of a research professional at work in the classroom.”
That is a very nice description, and brings us to what this award is designed to encourage: Scholars who are excellent teachers and teachers who are excellent scholars, faculty who are known for combining the two roles and doing both well. Ann’s practice as a teacher is characterized by an insistent focus on learning from experience and developing tools that will scaffold students’ learning. In the proseminar for doctoral students, which was the focus of her materials, she works at making the strange familiar. Students learn the expectations and responsibilities of doctoral study; they are encouraged to participate in and jointly construct their education; they begin exploring literature related to their specific interests and imagining research they might do. And Ann does with work with equal attention to – in her own words – “high expectations coupled with high support.” We are pleased to recognize and give this award to Ann Austin, who exemplifies that combination of teaching and scholarship, to which we, individually and collectively, aspire.
Dr. Jan Alleman, professor in the Department of Teacher Education, is an internationally known expert in elementary social studies education. With this award, we acknowledge that Jan deserves as much recognition for her commitments to students and to teaching as she does for her scholarship. One committee member described her as a “firecracker.” Indeed, Jan’s energy and enthusiasm makes the air crackle in discussions about her practice.
Throughout her work with prospective and practicing teachers, Dr. Alleman places a high priority on listening to her students, and drawing out of them an interest in their own learning. As her nominator wrote: ““Learning, to her, is a movement away from simply ‘doing school’ to developing a thirst for wanting to learn more.” And as one teacher who Jan has worked with noted: “She has an amazing ability to focus on you as you talk. She listens with her head and heart, offering suggestions, ideas, and asking questions. Before you realize it, you’ve clarified your thoughts and often answered your own questions.”
Especially noteworthy is Dr. Alleman’s commitment to modeling instructional routines and strategies for her own students. She creates her own classroom communities, complete with rules, routines, and roles. She holds students to high standards, yet is always willing to help them understand why those standards make sense. Her classes take field trips; her students learn to conduct family conferences under her watchful eye. Inspired by Deborah Meier’s words -- “We ask students to cross bridges we have never crossed” -- Jan is simply unafraid to try new things.
The committee was impressed by Jan’s passion for teaching, by her pragmatism about trade offs that teachers must make every day in their classrooms, and by the thoughtful ways she helps students – at once – respond to but not be imprisoned by those pressures. Moreover, we were impressed with Jan’s ability to use her own experiences as a teacher educator as grist for the mill of her scholarship, so that others might learn from her adventurous teaching spirit.
Dr. Mary Juzwik, an assistant professor in the Department of Teacher Education, is dedicated to helping doctoral students develop identities as researchers and scholarly writers. Her assignments are designed to gradually immerse doctoral students in an on-going professional conversation, and her feedback to students -- in person and in writing – her own high level of engagement with ideas, with scholarly practice, and with the fields of writing and rhetoric. As one of her nominators explained, “I learned from her the artful skill of professional and academic conversations, especially in the face of very different opinions or theoretical lenses.” Mary models the kind of teacher and researcher she hopes her students will become. One nominator says, “I saw how Mary continually made theoretical and research-based information practical for teachers and also how she was able to complicate classroom practices into interesting and sometimes theoretical discussions . . . I can say with great confidence that Mary has had an impact on the way I think about and carry out my own teaching and research.”
Particularly noteworthy is Dr. Juzwik’s openness to be critical of her teaching, and ways in which she incorporates experiences, challenges, and student feedback into her practice. As a teacher at the earlier end of her career in higher education, Mary searches out authentic assignments to support students’ learning. Students write proposals like those they will need to write for competitive research grants, they collect and analyze data as they will in their dissertation research. In class and in informal settings such as the Literacy Colloquy, Mary creates learning opportunities that effectively challenge her students, that connect them to various research literatures, and that cultivate a passion for learning, for the field, and for becoming teacher educators. In sum, Dr. Juzwik exemplifies an image of excellence in teaching and mentoring for early career faculty.
Michael Sherry is a doctoral student in the Department of Teacher Education. His teaching and reflection on his teaching provides lessons from which we can all learn, a goal of this award process. Michael’s appetite for and commitment to a brad array of innovative instructional strategies is impressive. He uses forum theater to help teacher candidates prepare for classroom practice by rehearsing teaching situations they are likely to encounter. He has adopted a complex instruction model, designing lessons around group-worthy tasks. Michael’s students participate in student-led portfolio conferences. These conferences held with Mike and a student’s significant other allow candidates to reflect on who they have become as a teacher and the path they have taken to arrive there, in addition to rehearsal for eventual job interviews. Michael also regularly incorporates technology into his instruction through the use of wikis, or editable web pages, that allow students to collectively create statements on teacher learning.
But Mr. Sherry’s teaching is not noteworthy simply because
of these innovations. Rather, most impressive to the committee was his
capacity to explain the rationale behind his instructional choices. A broad
and deep reader, Michael’s capacity to engage in thoughtful discussions
about the strengths and weaknesses of his practice, all the while drawing on
theory, scholarship, and his own teaching/learning history is impressive.
Lee Shulman has noted that while we might not all need to do a scholarship
of our teaching, we in higher education have an obligation to be scholarly
about our teaching. And Michael Sherry’s masterful presentation and analysis
of his own work as an educator is a fine example of what Shulman had in
Center for the Scholarship of Teaching. Erickson Hall, 2nd Floor, East Lansing, MI 48824. All rights reserved.