©Marva A. Barnett

I revel in the wealth of teaching enrichment and collegial connection provided by my connection with the Teaching Resource Center. Here I attend myriad workshops on topics apparently unrelated my French teaching, workshops which are nonetheless serendipitously informative. For example, although I see no direct way to use case studies to teach grammar or literature, I have learned much about engaging students and directing discussions from various workshops on case teaching. Attending several different TRC workshops on critical thinking has made me more consciously clarify for FREN 332 students literary modes of thought; and I have also developed ways to help them analyze more carefully (see Strategies and Strengths) and undertaken my own study of reflective thinking, work that has informed my teaching. Thus a beneficial symbiosis similar to that existing between my research and teaching occurs equally between my teaching and my administrative work. I learn from information the TRC brings for colleagues; in addition, ideas that work in my classroom can often be translated into help for others (the source of my workshop Whose Course Is It?, for instance).

I also learn a great deal from watching colleagues teach, mostly from seeing the many techniques they use effectively. While participating in the TRC Mutual Classroom Observation group, for example, I learned from Stephen Cushman's English class on Langston Hughes' poetry how dynamic a class becomes when students are asked to choose a poem, read it as they believe it should be read, and then comment on why they read it that way. I also saw proof of the theory that people learn terms and theories much more easily when they see them applied: rules of scansion came alive when Steve showed students graphically on the board the various readings they were producing. From Pamela Karlan's law course on criminal adjudication, I learned the great value of ranging widely in one's use of analogies to bring concepts alive, as well as the importance of humor and personal connection in keeping a large group of students attentive. From team-teaching FREN 701 with Robert F. Cook in the French Department, I saw how effectively anecdotes can help students understand and remember concepts. Bob also showed me the benefits of noticing and considering individual students' in-class responses, and, when they seem problematic, addressing them individually with the students, thereby resolving potential conflicts or misunderstandings.

Otherwise, to invigorate my teaching, I occasionally take on special courses, such as the team-taught University Seminar, "Pleasures and Perceptions of Performance." I also read regularly the journals of my discipline, including The Modern Language Journal and Foreign Language Annals, as well as journals that take a broader look at university and college teaching, for instance, Change, The Teaching Professor, and The National Teaching and Learning Forum.

In the future, I hope and expect to maintain all these thought-provoking connections with colleagues both at U.Va. and beyond. Most immediately, I am undertaking the project of constructing and annotating an anthology of Victor Hugo's works, which will undoubtedly enrich my teaching of the Hugo course.