Written by Craig Schreiner | Photos by Craig Schreiner
In WHY I TEACH, S.A. Welch, a professor of communication at UW-Whitewater for 18 years, talks about coming to campus looking for a life, not just a job. Welch already had interviewed at other schools when she arrived and asked to observe a class here. What she sensed from that class and from the campus was a commitment by faculty to the success of students in life, not just college. Almost two decades later, teaching in a pandemic has put a new twist on things.
“My tip to others is, rather than be upset with yourself for what you cannot do, step back and see what you CAN do. I want to give a shoutout to the ICIT department — who I call way too often. (Teaching simultaneously in-person and online) has been one heck of a wild ride for me. What has surprised me is how I have sorted out doing so many things electronically. I am quite surprised how much technology can help us during the pandemic. And, always, laugh often — even at yourself!”
In her basic speech classes, Welch teaches speech and infuses confidence. In her upper-level theory classes, students learn to organize their thoughts and be persuasive. Welch’s students are gems to be polished to a high luster in the course of a semester.
“In my speech classes, I have students do many small speeches in class. I had one student who was initially so nervous that we had to have only half of the class face forward when the student did their speech. By the time that student did their final speech, not only did the entire class face forward but we had combined class sections and about 35 audience members. My student performed beautifully and the look of pride on their face was priceless.”
“For my senior level theory class, I am rewarded when the lightbulb goes on and their faces show that they see the applicability of a theory to their lives. This just happened this morning: one of my students wrote to me describing a situation at his job and then shared how he helped his colleagues understand the situation by describing key points from the theory we just covered last week. When these happen, I know at some level I have succeeded in making my students’ education worthy and applicable to a successful life.”
WHY I TEACH is a series about the dedicated faculty at UW-Whitewater’s two campuses who make every day a teachable moment — and every place a learning place — by their expertise and example.