The best teachers are good learners. I have just concluded a week of Voice Lessons with a group of dedicated, passionate learners from a cross-section of the UTM faculty. The creative title of the workshop may be misleading. It has nothing to do with singing; and, contrary to what you may have heard, it is less about writing and more about teaching. Each participant's passion for their teaching was contagious. I frequently caught myself wishing that I taught theater, agriculture, sociology, composition, literature, or communications.
I have just concluded my first year here at UTM. I have done my best to attend as many faculty development events on campus as I could. However, none of them has been as beneficial as this workshop. I cannot think of any other way I could have gotten so much great feedback on my personal teaching philosophy or sample letters of recommendation for students. Voice Lessons gave me the opportunity (or at least the excuse) to put together my first proposal to read a paper at a national conference. Having experienced, published colleagues critique my work gave me the confidence to mail it afterwards. Throughout the week, we discussed many ways to engage students in learning through writing about the subject. I already incorporate writing into my courses, but now I have several new ideas on how to do it much more effectively.
Margrethe Ahlschwede and Doug Cook are to be commended for their efforts. Their summer energies could have been directed elsewhere. However, they chose to keep them right here at UTM. Support for this workshop is crucial to the teaching mission of our institution, and I encourage you to continue funding it.
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