NYU Steinhardt News

A Conversation on Teaching with Steinhardt's 2007 Distinguished Teaching Awardees

Q: Are there ‘born' teachers?

Mark Alter: The best teachers I have observed and learned from seem to have a special magic. They have a unique passion for their subject area, an unbridled enthusiasm and concern for students, an authentic commitment to share their knowledge, and are eager to learn from their colleagues and students.

Ron Esposito: Great teachers also think about creating innovative learning environments, utilizing field experiences when appropriate, creating intensive modules, taking students offcampus and/or to study abroad. Alternative environments can provide students with a venue to engage in discussions that rarely take place in a traditional classroom.

Q: Does a teacher need to get his or her hands wet in the field?

Beth Dixon: In my field, the recommendations for nutrition and public health are constantly being updated. As teachers, we need to be able to critically evaluate research studies so we can interpret how findings from these studies will impact clinical and public health practice. Our own hands-on experience gives us the training to recognize good studies from poor ones.

Q: What is a great teacher?

Domingo Pinero: One who is able to make the students comprehend the material, feel the need to learn it, and see the general place for this knowledge in their education and life.

Q: What's the best part of teaching?

Mark Alter: When the student comes back to see me and remembers a specific class discussion and says, "Now that I'm in the field, it all makes perfect sense."