« Ann's Comp Objectives | Main | Assigning Collaborative Writing - Materials from Marcia's Presentation »

Post-Observation Comments, Poetry Seminar, Michael Dennis Browne

Not sure what format these comments are supposed to take; these are just some notes. If I've totally got it wrong, will someone please tell me? Oh, and this is my whole observation, if anyone's curious. Download file

Post-Evaluation Comments


Michael Dennis Browne is retiring after this year. He’s taught for over 30 years, and is an extremely successful lecturer and seminar leader. I was mostly interested in observing MDB to pick up successful teaching habits. This seminar, which is on political poetry and seems particularly close to his heart, is a combination of reading and writing poetry. It seemed that his idea was to have the seminar so student-centered that it almost leads itself. He emphasized in-class writing and collaborative work.


One aspect of the teaching that seemed successful: When he had them read aloud, he took the time to really listen to what the students were saying and engage other students. What did you remember about that? He picked out something he liked about it, and repeated that back to the reader.


Exploit this strength even further? Perhaps he could have taken even more time with each reading, asked the others what they remembered best. Sometimes, he moved over this quickly.


Another aspect that seemed successful: He asked them how they used their in-class writing. They responded variously, often chiding themselves for not using it more. At the end, said that he thought, even if they didn't use it anywhere, it was still "recorded in the universe" somewhere. 


Exploit this strength even further? Perhaps have had the students talk about ways they possibly could use their in-class writing.


Another aspect that seemed successful: He had the students' papers and quoted them back to themselves, situated them in the debate (a real debate about the nature and value of political poetry) before they started the discussion. He seemed to value and respect their comments.


Exploit this strength even further? One of the students wasn't engaged in the discussion. Perhaps find something from his paper instead of an already-engaged student's.


Were there two-three aspects of teaching that didn’t seem consistent with the professor's goals?


1) He kept saying, "I'm talking too much." Sometimes, I think he did give more information--all good--than it was possible to digest. His method/philosophy was almost for the students to run the seminar, so this wasn't quite consistent. There could have been more presentation by students, as he had planned for the following meeting.


I couldn’t come up with more than one. Some of his students say he’s a little “quote happy,? but they all fit, and are relevant. Having them bring more to the class would be the only thing, I think.