Lessons of Excellence

It goes without saying that students learn plenty, about themselves and the world, in Kenyon classes. But have you ever wondered what nuggets of wisdom your professors gleaned from the many hours they lavished on you? We decided to ask Pamela Camerra-Rowe and Ivonne García, winners of the 2011 Trustee Teaching Excellence Awards, the College's highest teaching honors: What have you learned from teaching?

Camerra-Rowe, associate professor of political science, who joined the Kenyon faculty in 1994, won the award for faculty members who have been teaching at Kenyon for ten or more years. She is a specialist in comparative, European, and American politics with a research focus on interest groups and political parties and on regulatory and social policy in the European Union and Germany. In 2003-04 she received a Whiting Foundation grant in recognition of her outstanding teaching.

García, assistant professor of English, won the award for a faculty member who has been teaching at Kenyon for fewer than ten years. She joined the faculty in 2006 and was one of the Marilyn Yarbrough Dissertation Teaching Fellows at Kenyon during 2007-08. She is a specialist in nineteenth-century American and postcolonial literature and in Latina studies. She is the recipient of a Whiting Foundation Teaching Fellowship for 2011-12.

Pamela Camerra-Rowe

You should never fall asleep in class with your mouth open. A bee may fly in.
(This actually happened.)

Even if they set three alarms, some students cannot make it to a ten o'clock class. Or even a 1:00 p.m. class.

Even if you teach the exact same material in two sections of a course, the two sections will be completely different.

I have no drawing ability. All of the countries I draw on the blackboard--even the United States--look like an egg.

It takes at least three times longer to prepare a class than to teach it.

Regardless of what you do, the worst students and the best students tend to take most of your time. Therefore, concentrate your efforts on getting to know those in the middle.

Students who think they already know everything cannot learn anything.

Students think you know more about their personal lives than you do. And sometimes they tell you more about their personal lives than they should.

Students think that you cannot see or hear what they are doing in class while you are talking. They are mistaken.

"A" work is rare.

You have to go over material at least three times before students get it.

Advising is one of the most important aspects of teaching.

Students would like you to solve their problems but the best thing for you to do is help them solve their problems themselves.

Ivonne García

Having a great class doesn't mean the next one won't be a flop. The corollary: A class that bombs can precede a class that soars.

Never look at your ratings on "Rate My Professor."

Teaching is not a one-way street.

It's very true that you get the students you create.

Even a student who scored straight As in an excellent high school may not know the difference between "its" and "it's" and "loose" and "lose" or between plurals and possessives.

Teachers can learn a lot from actors and stand-up comedians.

We can never have too much knowledge or too much passion about what we teach, but that doesn't mean teachers should dominate classroom discussion.

Students learn by contributing to the production of knowledge in the class, not just by listening.

You get a chance to be an even better teacher every single time you teach.

Teaching a good class is like crafting great art. I feel mentally drained and physically exhausted when it's over, but few other endeavors come close to giving me the same exhilaration.

Go beyond what's on the syllabus. I not only teach American literature, but I also model ethical, humane, and professional behavior.

Set the bar very high and be thrilled when students rise to it.

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