By Emily Cook, TLS staff writer
Being a good teacher doesn’t have to be complicated. For Stacy Douglas, it’s as simple as listening to students, and telling a story in return.
Douglas is an Assistant Professor with Carleton’s Department of Law and Legal Studies. She started teaching at the school in September 2012 and in just three years has been recognized with multiple awards including a 2015 FPA Teaching Excellence Award and a 2015 New Faculty Excellence in Teaching Award.
“I like learning with students,” she says. “You can have these really amazing conversations and thoughtful reflections on content you’ve assigned. Then that’s the time when we are both learning.”
Douglas says her own teaching develops continually because she listens to student input and adjusts her style accordingly.
“Students need to know that teachers have their best interests in mind and are keen to teach them well, and to teach them things they think are important,” she says.
Douglas says she thinks students like her teaching because of her “old school” methods. She doesn’t use a lot of technology, but she focuses on discussing readings and emphasizes a full understanding of the material.
“I believe in going more slowly through my lectures, to emphasize depth rather than breadth,” she says.
Rather than just teaching fundamental concepts, Douglas says she tries to tell a story to make the content more relevant and easier for students to remember. She also assigns creative projects, like making an interactive model of the rule of law, to enhance students’ understanding. These kinds of assignments, she says, also teach students to work together and think outside the box.
“It’s not immediately apparent why we do these creative assignments,” she says. “It forces students to work hard to think about what the connections are.”
Douglas hopes by teaching this way she will encourage students to develop a genuine excitement and interest in the material. More than that, she says she endeavours to help her students develop as individuals and individual thinkers.
“It’s not just about feeding them something, like a line,” she says, “but rather that they are thinking critically about not only the content in my class, but also taking that critical thinking forward in their research.”