Written by Craig Schreiner | Photos by Craig Schreiner
In Why I Teach, Ken Brosky, an associate professor in the College of Integrated Studies on the UW-Whitewater at Rock County campus, connects students with the worthiness of their own ideas through critical reading and creative writing. In Brosky’s English 101 course, students focus on a text and a topic — online shaming, as one example — and learn to search for understanding in the reading and to write an academic reflection. In English 103, he teaches creative writing. Students compete in contests, retell fables and share an autobiographical narrative. They refine their storytelling skills and create a personal project for the end of the semester.
“I recently sat down with a student (remotely) and helped him write his paper. It took us an hour, and I literally sat in front of my computer drinking my coffee and watching the student write each paragraph. We had Google Docs, which allowed us to work on a single document. I gave him feedback. I helped him brainstorm. And every paragraph he finished, we went over together. It was exhausting, and I could never do this with EVERY single student. But this student needed the help, and he was willing to tolerate me for an hour, and by the end I swear this student had managed to write an incredible paper. I was so freaking proud of him. It’s hard out there right now. Sometimes, we forget that everyone is the hero of their own story. Remembering this important point grounds me and allows me to approach every situation from the student’s frame of reference. We’re all in this together.”
“I was very lucky to have an incredible mentor when I first began teaching. Bernie Hoes is a professor of English at Madison Area Technical College (Madison College). He hired me to teach my first class when I was fresh out of college. I had absolutely no idea what I was doing, but Bernie gave me feedback and helped me to develop the skills necessary to become a great teacher. He’s become a close friend, and not a day passes when I’m not thankful for all the help he gave me.”
“On the Rock County campus, we have a lot of students who are working full-time jobs. This can present a lot of challenges for students, especially during hard economic times, and when they can’t necessarily move to a new job if their bosses refuse to respect their academic schedules. It’s always important to recognize that every student WANTS to be successful. Sometimes, that means finding what works on an individual scale. On the Rock County campus, our small class sizes make this possible.”
WHY I TEACH is a series about the dedicated professionals at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, including professors, coaches, advisors and other staff members, who make every day a teachable moment — and every place a learning place — by their expertise and example.