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Susie Thiel

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Outstanding Teaching Faculty Award
2016 University of Kentucky Faculty Awards Ceremony

At the risk of putting you on the spot, what contribution to teaching do you believe led to your award recognition during the 2015-2016 academic school year?
I appreciate and really care about all of my students.

In your opinion, what are the qualities of a great teacher?
A teacher that is willing to listen to the students and change with the times.

What do you find most gratifying about teaching?
Watching students figure out something and seeing how happy they are about their accomplishment.

What makes teaching challenging?
A great challenge is reaching all my students. Every student is unique entering the classroom with different abilities, goals and learning styles.

How have you navigated those challenges?
Creating a comfortable, encouraging and engaging learning environment to develop self-discovery is very important. I believe each student has something to offer and it is important that his or her creative voice develops. My Introduction to Dance classes are integrated with improvisational and compositional exercises. For a final project in this class, I place my students in small groups where they work together to prepare a two to three minute dance based on compositional elements, concepts attained throughout the semester and a theme or topic. This gives the students the opportunity to cultivate their individual expression while interacting with their peers, presenting research as well as gain independence from me while using their new knowledge to create their own work.

What are your interests outside of teaching (i.e., hobbies)?
Dancing, Hiking, Backpacking, and traveling.

Who inspires you? And why?
My former professor at the University of Michigan, Prof. Jessica Fogel. She is one of those professors that strives to help students achieve their goals, whether it is handing them a book or picking up the phone and making a connection. I try to do the same for my students.

What is your favorite book and/or author?
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

What would want to be if you weren’t a teacher?
Arts (dance) Administration

What advice would you give to faculty at the beginning of her/his teaching career?
Appreciate your students.

In your opinion, how can faculty be most effective in the classroom?
Keep learning!

What resources would you share with other faculty seeking to adopt new teaching practices?
CELT, e-Learning and attending teaching and research conferences. I am also constantly inspired by watching my colleagues teach.

Susie Thiel is Director of the Dance Program and an Assistant Professor of Theatre and Dance in the College of Fine Arts.