In late August I received a letter from my Alma mater requesting that I “candidly assess” the classroom performance of a former professor. With love, I offered the following response.
To the Promotions and Tenure Committee, concerning the promotion of Dr. D to the rank of Professor:
When I came to college, I knew I liked to write. Everyone told me I wrote well and I made excellent marks. I escaped the five paragraph essay with seamless transition and continued along the tedious road of eliminating to-be verbs.
Then, in my junior year, something extraordinary happened to my writing: I met Dr. D.
Suddenly, new horizons exploded everywhere.
The nuclear bomb of his instruction in Advanced Composition still radiates in every sentence of my writing today. Dr. D told us things I had not heard in the university community before. The grandest lesson he ever taught me was to cultivate my voice. For so long I was trying to write like the academy seemed to require, making frequent use of my thesaurus and chopping sentences in endless exasperation. That is, until I learned another way. Dr. D waltzed into my life, bringing a whole new world with him.
In the classroom, he maintains an air of causal significance. We all know he is the expert and his expertise evident, but his tone and address allow us to think of him as a friend. He manages the balance between discussion and activity well; most classes compose of open discussion and writing exercise, with lecture often in between. I appreciate this approach, as I believe the students need both a forum to share their opinions and also supervised writing time in which questions can be brought before the professor during the process.
Dr. D has employed a few techniques in his writing classes that prove exceedingly beneficial to his students. He usually requires the keeping of a Writer’s Notebook as a certain percentage of the student’s grade. This notebook becomes the writer’s journal and catalog of ideas; it is a tool that has followed me out of the university and into my daily life.
Writing classes further rely on a workshop element in which students exchange their writing for peer review. With Dr. D’s direction, these workshops become a place where students can fearlessly bring their work, engaging in meaningful collaboration over point of view, tone, syntax, diction, and the like. During the workshop process, Dr. D also provides his own elaborate edits. While I value the opinions of my peers, many times I relied solely on Dr. D’s revisions to improve my work, as they were always the most insightful and thorough.
But Dr. D is not only dynamic in the classroom. As a Thesis Mentor, he spent many hours poring over my inordinate drafts, clipping and questioning to perfection. His time, attention, and instruction challenged me to craft a project of excellence. I owe that 99 to him; a student’s success is only as good as a teacher’s investment.
I appreciate the opportunity to petition you in favor of Dr. D’s promotion, although I expect this committee meeting is merely a formality considering Dr. D’s overwhelming contribution to our institution and his students. It would be an awfully unfortunate loss to forfeit his continued participation in the growing scholarship of the university.
So, as if I haven’t been clear enough, I strongly recommend the promotion of Dr. D to the rank of Professor.
Do you have a professor or teacher you really loved? What was great about him or her? How have they left a lasting impression on you?