Thursday, April 12, 2012

Favorite Teaching Moments in 10 Years of McGill

Monday I will be teaching my last class at McGill.  Tomorrow, I am driving to Ottawa to participate in my first student's dissertation proposal defense.  So, I started thinking about the teaching highlights of my time at McGill, where I spent more than half of my career.  Time flies when you are interacting with sharp, interesting students.  I am already impressed by the students I have met at Carleton, but I know I am leaving behind some awesome students.  So, here are the top moments that came to mind tonight.
  1. Seven way tie: the emails/phone calls when my grad students told me that they got their first job offers.  Nothing makes me prouder than having great students succeed.  As much as I argue that folks should not get PhD's these days due to an uncertain job market, these folks have done just fine and then some.
  2. Kangaroo Milk: just a fun moment in my big lecture class a couple of years back where the students took my frequent joke about bags of milk in Canada and threw it back at me.  I cannot remember a time I laughed harder in a class.  I am pretty sure that if I had been drinking anything, it would been shot out my nose at that moment.
  3. First honours seminar my first year at McGill: I would introduce a topic and then sit back and watch these really sharp undergrads just tear into the material.  I got to see stuff I had read before from different perspectives.  I knew then I was at a special place with some phenomenal students.  The second one I had was also super-fun and interesting.  Too bad I never got a chance to teach that class again.
  4. My teaching evals after my first lecture class, asking me to demand more from the undergrads.
  5. My first teaching award from the undergrad Poli Sci Students Association.  And then my second.  I have some awesome colleagues who are great teachers, so it was a great honor, twice.
  6. Having an undergrad research assistant suggest to me a research project as he was graduating.
  7. The last day of class the first time I taught Intro to IR at McGill.  I was most honored.
  8. The time I taught Civil War as a special topic grad class.  Fun students, addressing an interesting topic some folks thought was not appropriate for an IR class.  Perhaps they were right, given how few civil wars there are these days with significant international implications.
  9. The time where I had a pop quiz where the students had to stump me with a Harry Potter question.  Took them a good twenty minutes
  10. The relatively new tradition I started last year, I guess, where I buy the first round of beer at the student bar if they reach a certain threshold of participation in the course evals.  
  11. This fall, I suddenly discovered that McGill students will work for free to get some research experience.  This winter, they wanted to get academic credit for their labor for me, and this group of about 14 students ended up sparking interesting conversations and getting very into their papers they were writing for me.  I would say I cannot wait to read them, but I think my blog is chock full of passages about how I feel about grading, even when the stuff is really interesting. 
  12. Update: I somehow forgot to mention the spontaneous handshake line at the end of my last Intro to IR lecture. That meant quite a lot to me. 
I will miss most the students here.  No doubt about it.  Thanks for an awesome decade of IR teaching and learning.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

A great legacy: