Department of History of Art
Recipient, Faculty Award for Outstanding Mentorship of GSIs
Excerpts from the GSIs’ Nomination Letters
Background of the Award
Each spring graduate students are invited to nominate faculty members for the Faculty Award for Outstanding Mentorship of GSIs. Typically each nomination is supported by several GSIs who have worked with the honoree. The award, sponsored by the Graduate Council’s Advisory Committee for GSI Affairs and the GSI Teaching & Resource Center, is presented as a surprise in the faculty member’s classroom, with the GSIs and other departmental faculty and staff present.
Julia Bryan-Wilson of History of Art is one of four faculty members who received the award in April 2018. Jeffrey Reimer, professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and chair of the Graduate Council’s Faculty Committee for GSI Affairs, presented the award plaque.
The excerpts below reflect mentoring activities that the GSI found especially effective.
Excerpts from the GSIs’ Nomination Letters
GSIs highlight in their nomination steps Professor Bryan-Wilson took to establish a productive and supportive working environment for her GSIs and make them see that they were respected members of a teaching team:
“She consistently incorporates a high standard of guidance, feedback and discussion into her work with GSIs. While GSIs for her classes we met with her weekly to discuss section learning outcomes and how best to structure section to meet those goals. She clearly communicated her expectations for GSI responsibilities at the beginning of each semester and demonstrated sensitivity to GSI workload and other possible concerns by regularly initiating check-in conversations. Not only did Prof. Bryan-Wilson express gratitude for the work we performed as GSIs, she also demonstrated respect for our pedagogical skills and intuitions by seeking input about aspects of the course such as exam content, assignment rubrics, and syllabus design. By doing so, she fostered a classroom dynamic in which GSIs were valuable members of a teaching team.”
Her GSIs shared with us that Professor Bryan-Wilson was invested in their success and worked collaboratively with them to support students:
“Dialogue about student well-being and how to best maintain a positive section environment were consistent elements of our weekly discussions. When necessary, Prof. Bryan-Wilson provided insights and support for dealing with classroom behavior and dynamics. At all times, she made clear that she was on our “team,” and that we would work together to address student concerns.”
While Professor Bryan-Wilson provided structure and guidance, her GSIs also appreciated the trust she placed in them to develop and contribute their own teaching ideas:
“She was very open to allowing GSIs to plan and execute their own section agendas and to try new approaches. The dialogue on new approaches felt collaborative, and it was clear Prof. Bryan-Wilson would incorporate new methods developed by GSIs into future courses and sections.”
Prof. Bryan-Wilson created structured opportunities for her GSIs to develop skills they will need as future faculty: Her GSIs write:
“She invited GSIs to give a guest lecture, which she assisted with developing. These guest lectures were incorporated into the syllabus from the beginning of the course and were a deliberate method of giving GSIs an opportunity to develop lecturing abilities with guidance and feedback.”
Indeed, her feedback and support of their development extended to all aspects of their teaching and has had an impact on teaching these GSIs have done in subsequent semesters:
“Prof. Bryan-Wilson also incorporated classroom observation, sitting in on both discussion sections and guest lectures, and provided mid semester evaluations. This feedback was presented in both verbal and written form and in the case of those of us who have taught again since serving as a GSI for Prof. Bryan-Wilson, has been invaluable to our subsequent development as instructors.”
Finally, her GSIs stress that Prof. Bryan-Wilson has served as an excellent role model in how she approaches undergraduate instruction.
“Prioritizing an inclusive and interactive classroom, Prof. Bryan-Wilson develops critical thinking skills through innovative methods, such as direct interaction with art works and performance. Clear expectations for assignments and engagement in the course are communicated regularly, and student feedback on the lectures and sections is incorporated early and often. Lectures and sections worked together to create clear learning objectives for students.”
In sum, her GSIs write:
“Prof. Bryan-Wilson both served as an outstanding model for undergraduate teaching and offered the space for GSIs to practice and discuss their pedagogical craft.”
Congratulations, Professor Bryan-Wilson!