The Alumni Association will honor 18 NC State professors on Thursday for their outstanding work in the classroom, in the laboratory and in the field. We talked (via email) with some of the recipients about their work and the keys to being a successful professor.
Today we’re visiting with Dudley M. Marchi, an associate professor of comparative literature and associate department head in the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures. Marchi is one of four recipients of the Alumni Association Outstanding Teacher Award.
What is the key to being a successful teacher? There is no one successful formula. For me, it is having a passion for a subject and learning as much about it as possible; that is the basic first step. Next is the desire to want to help young people to improve themselves and develop as mature and independent individuals. then, gaining students trust early in the semester so they can bring out the best in themselves; having them understand the relevance of the course’s subject matter to their personal and professional aspirations, although this connection may not be obvious to them at first; adhering to the basic qualities of a successful teacher: patience, perseverance, empathy, measured creativity, emotional energy, and mental stamina. The role of the successful teacher is more than to share specialized information; it is also to initiate curiosity, a desire for knowledge, self-motivation, and to have students understand that teaching and learning are part of everything we do in our lives.
What gives you the greatest satisfaction as a professor? There are several things. Walking into a classroom and feeling that the students are are prepared and excited about the day’s lesson as I am; seeing students get engaged in the course subject matter and doing something original with it in their semester projects; letting students teach me, something which invariably happens each semester, much to the students’ surprise; it helps them to know that we are all learners in the educational process; finally, if I have done my job, knowing that my students will have found some use for what they have learned in my class that will help them in their journey as life-long learners. There is nothing better than receiving a letter or an email from students, years after having taught them, and hearing them tell me that they still remember my course and how it made a difference in their lives.