Faculty and Staff Voices
(L) Evan Mack (Senior Teaching Professor in the Music Department) and (R) David Howson (Senior Teaching Professor and Arthur Zankel Executive Director of the Arts Administration
By Lila Norton (’24)
Mack: As a professional pianist and composer, the more I teach, the more I learn. Teaching has allowed me to reflect deeper on my own pedagogies, my own learning, and has ultimately made me a better performer and composer.
Howson: I became a teacher because I had great teachers, and I remember how impactful those teachers were on me, and how I could be an influence in others.
Mack: For me it's the constant discovery and rediscovery of either the smallest little thing, or frankly, the space to create some new ideas and use it as a larger platform for the professional career.
Howson: I love learning through teaching my students. Every year is different so you're constantly reinventing yourself, your pedagogy, your classes, and your syllabus to meet the demands of today's students. I like that evolution, and this constant reinvention.
Mack: I find it challenging keeping up with how students communicate with each other, and how to adjust to what their current communication patterns are. I find that conversations with some of my students are similar to the ones I'm having with my teenage son. This has helped me connect on one level, but has also created a distance, because I'm living at a further distance from when they were born.
Howson: It is challenging keeping up with the students and having to constantly reinvent classes to keep it interesting and engaged; it's me then pivoting to ensure that the ultimate goal is to learn and reflect. And just when you think you've nailed it like—"yes, last semester was awesome, I'm going to repeat that”—nope that's not what happens, and you have to constantly adjust because every classroom is different.
Mack: Bringing in guest artists doesn't require this massive logistic overhaul…I find it so funny that we've had this technology for a while now and could have been using it all along, but Covid in a way, has pushed us a little bit and has reminded us, “Oh, right, we have access to this technology.” I used to bring guest speakers up from the city as well as local folks to the classroom; however, now that you have the ability to zoom somebody in from LA, Chicago, or Indiana, you can accomplish so much more breadth in a way while also bringing diverse perspectives without dealing with two days of travel and large travel expenses, which is ultimately easier for the speaker.
Howson: What students went through is also what teachers were going through. The old tricks we knew that worked in the physical classroom, mostly did not work or translate directly into the virtual classroom. So, the biggest challenge for me was understanding that I could not just replicate what I had done in the physical classroom and expect it to flow right into a zoom class, but instead reinvent activities, learning, and discussions to fit the students' needs.
Mack: I did things where I had two cameras set up so they could see me side by side and then switch my camera so they could have an overhead view. I actually found that students responded to that dual visual very well so now, back in the room, I will often ask them to stand up and look over my shoulder while I demonstrate. Also, I would ask students to send me a video of their playing, and then use those five minutes to weigh in. This doesn't diminish the quality of the lesson, but actually enhances their overall learning experience in the process.
Other Faculty and Staff Voices
Senior Teaching Professor of Spanish
Associate Professor of Gender Studies
Professor, of Chemistry
Associate Director, Intergroup Relations Program
Associate Professor of History, Faculty Director of Civic Engagement
Lecturer in English, ELL Specialist for the Writing Center
Academic Communications Coordinator, Communications and Marketing
Associate Professor of Chemistry
Professor of English
Associate Dean of Students Affairs and Director of Student Academic Services
Evening Circulation Supervisor - Lucy Scribner Library
Professor of Psychology
Professor of Psychology