"[E]ffective teachers are masters of their subject, can organize and emphasize, can clarify ideas and point out relationships, can motivate students, and are reasonable, open, concerned, and imaginative human beings" (Seldin, 1991, p. 1).
In order to motivate my students, I how how the principles of writing and rhetoric apply to more than the traditional English class setting most of them experience in high school. To draw attention to the value of these principles, I reference a research study on the first page of each syllabus. In 2013, the Association of American Colleges and Universities surveyed 318 executives at private-sector and nonprofit organizations with 25 or more employees. I outline the results of their study and tie each result into the course objectives. It is my hope that students will see the direct correlation between the class's learning objectives with their goals of future employment. To the left is a sample page from my syllabus where I make these connections.
While I make it my goal to motivate my students to see the value of writing and rhetoric, I feel their own comments offer a clearer picture. I will let my students speak for me. The below comments are taken from both RateMyProfessor.com and my university's end-of-semester evaluations.
"Eric was an awesome teacher. I usually hate English classes, but I enjoyed this class. I liked how he didn't just teach the same boring stuff. He applied writing to the real world. Usually English classes are horrible to sit through, but Eric was entertaining and used real world stuff to teach us. I learned a lot this way cause I actually wanted to pay attention."
"The principles applied to what we are about to do with our careers. The material was easy to apply and it was actually helpful in life."
"Great class. I don’t usually enjoy English classes. At the beginning of the semester I was only taking this class because it was required, but I can honestly say that I have gained a lot of respect for English because of the wonderful layout of the class and the personal applications that were made. I feel that I can go into the world and rhetorically analyze everything at a much higher level."
"I think Eric Stephens is a great teacher. He does a very good job at getting all his students involved with the learning that is being done in his class. He also is very helpful. When you ask him for something specific he is always willing to give a response."
"This class was an excellent opportunity for me. Since I've usually been in large classes, I usually kept to myself. But with this class I feel like I was able to open up and really get the help I needed to learn what I needed to learn. Great life skills and great experience."
"There were multiple times where he blew my mind. He made me think about things in my everyday life that I would not normally question. He showed me how to look at multiple things in a different way!"
"Mr. Stephens is a wonderful teacher. This class is great if you don't usually like English classes. He applies the lectures to the modern world and helps students improve their problem solving skills and helps them to rhetorically analyze everything that we see, read, and hear. Great incorporation of social media as well. Clear, fun, great class!"
"Great teacher, he is funny and really helpful. I had him for 1010 and he helped me really start to like writing again. I would recommend Eric to any coming freshman."
"I really enjoyed this course. Eric always incorporate humor into his lesson plans and made them entertaining. He is really big on participation and is always willing to help. I looked forward to going to class."