Practicing What He Teaches, Haney Is His Students' Subject

A pioneer in the use of children's drawings as a gauge of their attitudes toward teachers and learning, Prof. Walter Haney (SOE) has turned the technique on himself by asking his own doctoral students to sketch pictures of him teaching class.

The results, he says, have been eye-opening.

"I got back some absolutely wonderful drawings caricaturing my manners and habits - and I learned some things, too," said Haney, who first gave the assignment to students in 1995.

Haney noted his classroom routine finds him frequently typing notations or displaying slide exhibits on a computer screen displayed on an overhead projector.

"One of my favorites showed me typing on an overhead screen and saying, 'And now for Slide Number 155 of 2,800," he recalled. "It poked some fun at my foibles. Sometimes I try to cover too much."

Another drawing he said he particularly enjoyed showed "arrows depicting different ideas zooming around the room."

Haney said he was struck by past drawings that in many cases showed him posing questions of students, but never depicted him offering words of praise. "It surprised me," he said. "It became clear to me that I didn't do enough in the way of positive encouragement."

Two of Haney's colleagues, associate professors Larry Ludlow and Penny Hauser-Cram, have followed his lead and asked students to draw them at work.

The sketch technique offers a creative alternative to teacher evaluations, said Haney, who observed, "It's a heck of a lot more fun."

(Haney lands major grant to continue research)

-Mark Sullivan

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