I consider myself fortunate to be teaching in higher education. Every semester brings a new cohort of students and even if the courses are the same, certainly the new students make it a different experience. This summer I had the privilege of teaching an honors version of a core curriculum class, World Literature Studies, for the Study Abroad Program, at the European Study Center in Heidelberg.
This was my first time in Europe and the experience exceeded my expectations even though they were high to begin with. Everyone on the staff at the Center was very professional and extremely competent – from the center director to the program director and her two interns, to even the caretakers of the premises. There was never a need that was not met, promptly and courteously.
I had a small group of students, barely enough for the class to make. Being a five-week summer session class, my class was somewhat intensive. I have taught summer classes many times over the years. This one was different and better in certain respects. Students who signed up for this class were committed to it as this is part of a living experience: living together in the same “house”, seeing each other for meals (though not all) and enjoying scheduled educational excursions. There was no need for formal office hours. We enjoyed an informal yet productive professor-student rapport. I believe class discussions flowed more easily because of this enhanced rapport.
And because I was teaching only one class I found I could devote much more quality time to reviewing notes and preparing for class, reading and commenting on student papers, and also to my scholarship that built on and went beyond teaching this one class. I ended up enjoying reading and following up on ideas like I had not done since my graduate school days.
Héctor Pérez, Ph.D.
University of the Incarnate Word