Good evening. My name is Bob Hazard, I’m a member of the English faculty, and I love my job.
I’ve had many jobs in my life. Among other things, I was a union carpenter in Minneapolis, a chain hand on oil rigs in Wyoming and a deckhand in the Gulf of Mexico, and I can say without any hesitation that teaching English here at the College of DuPage is the best job I’ve ever had. I get to work with a broad cross section of students, from presidential scholars, to students with blue cards.
From students who know exactly what they want, to students, who like me when I first went to college, have no idea what they want. Regardless, they want to learn, they want to grow. And, I get to work with colleagues who are smart, innovative, motivated and dedicated, who want to help all these students.
When I first got here, one of my favorite things to do was to pause outside classrooms and listen to my colleagues as they taught. It’s still one of the best parts of my day. There are so many innovative faculty members here who love their jobs and it shows in how they reach our students.
As you may know, I’ve been chosen by my colleagues as the Outstanding Liberal Arts Faculty Member for the 2018/19 school year. It’s humbling to be the one chosen when so many are deserving.
We all want the same thing: we want our students to succeed. To become what they can be. They sometimes discover that they want to become something they didn’t know existed. It’s in the spaces we create in our classrooms where they discover their paths.
When we’re at our best, we create spaces in our classrooms that allow our students to learn what they think, to learn how to apply the concepts we teach to their own lives, to learn how to learn.
I do that in my classes by trying my hardest to make assignments applicable in the real world. For example, I ask my students to apply for scholarships so they experience writing outside the classroom. I ask them to research issues that they’ll have to deal with in their careers to get them thinking about what they want to major in, what they want to become once they’ve graduated. During the election season I ask them analyze political ads and examine who the intended audiences are, how well they appeal to those audiences and how effective they are, not to enforce a particular ideology but to encourage them to think critically about those ads and eventually about all the media they consume in their lives.
My colleagues are equally inventive in their own ways. Our professors who teach Film as Literature, don’t teach plot summary, they use film to get their students to examine their own lives. The same goes for our humanities professors who teach religion or philosophy. Our political science professors don’t teach ideology, they teach our students to think critically about their own beliefs and how political systems function. Our history professors don’t teach dates and events; they teach human behavior.
We use our individual strengths to convey our passion for our disciplines to our students. We give our students the tools to learn, the tools to grow. We teach them how to use those tools when they leave our spaces. We do this despite whatever crisis -of-the- day is swirling around the campus, because as disruptive to our lives as those crises are, our students come first.
We love our jobs: because teaching matters.