Honouring Our Professors

Professor (Latin): professor, person who professes to be an expert in some art or science, teacher of highest rank) - Wikipedia (yes, always a reliable source :)) Every year, students have the opportunity to nominate professors who teach undergraduate courses for an Undergraduate Teaching Award, and recognize them in an official ceremony for their "teaching excellence" as the nomination put it, which I translate as - passion for teaching and sharing knowledge, care for students, strong presentation skills, and an overall inspiration. Students can nominate any professor they want, and along with signatures from other students and 250-word statement about why this professor is deserving of an award, the application is easy to fill out and submit. I notice that there is a variation in both the quality and enthusiasm that professors have for teaching students - that is, some professors' interests lie more heavily in research, while others enjoy speaking in front of a class and engaging the classroom atmosphere. Last year I had some particularly wonderful teachers, and took the time to nominate two of my professors who I thought were excellent teachers, role models and simply inspirational. When a class is large, its difficult for professors to connect with students on an individual level, so when a teacher makes an effort to understand their students, I always feel much more respect for the individual as a teaching instructor. I think that the more teachers put into their students, the more motivated students feel to give back. Any teacher that can make coming to class at 6pm a joy deserves to be recognized 🙂 I was excited to find out soon after school ended, that one of my nominated professors was the recepient to for one of the five Undergraduate Teaching Awards. I was invited to the ceremony, and, both honoured and excited, I looked forward to the ceremony in anticipation. After it was over, I came back to write down a few thoughts about the event:

"Its always a little strange to be giving a teacher something...possibly because, as students, we spend the majority our connection with that teacher where we are the receipients and the teacher is the giver. We sit in class to fill our minds with whatever expertise the Professor offers us and we receive knowledge, opinion, facts and most significantly, marks which assess our progress during the school year. Here I was, in a completely reversal role - where I was offering my Professor the opportunity to see the impact he had made on the students in his class and providing him with an assessment, which resulted in the positive recognition of accomplishment that he had achieved."

The banquet was a great experience. It took place Wednesday May 13th, 2009, 3pm at the University of Toronto Art Centre. Am I the only one who had any idea we have an art centre?! Its quite an awesome room! When I reflect back on the experience, it really comes down to the ability for the teacher to move beyond the words of a textbook and bring something new to the table. I think all students come to class with a thirst for knowledge, but its up to the professor to quench that thirst in an interesting and fun way! This year, when you sit through your classes, think about whether there is a professor that is deserving of an Undergraduate Teaching Award, and consider nominating them for doing  a great job. - Fariya

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