Saturday, March 27, 2010

A Student’s Letter of Recommendation

This past week I found out that the Hebrew Academy was not going to bring me back for next year. The administration decided that even though they loved the fact that I taught at a very high level, in essence offering a college level course, I lacked the right touch for dealing with high school students. One of my students, without me asking, was kind enough to write the administration a "letter of recommendation" for me. The student sent me a copy and allowed me to reproduce part of it here.

I am writing because recently I have heard some criticisms from other students about Mr. Chinn's class, so I would like to describe my experience in Modern Jewish History. Since the beginning of the year Mr. Chinn's class has been one of my favorites. He conveys the information with great energy and he really makes the material interesting. He always manages to connect what we are learning in class to current events, which helps me learn the material much better. His quizzes and tests are challenging, but fair. They always reflect the material covered in class which is more then I can say for other classes I've taken. He encourages really thinking about the material, and will often teach by asking the students questions about, for example what the motivation of a historical figure might have been. There is always a lot of dialogue between Mr. Chinn and the students on the material, and it really makes for a charged and energized learning environment.  

In short I feel that Mr. Chinn was a really excellent teacher and I am glad to have had the privilege of taking his class.

It looks like I am going to be back in Columbus next fall to use my final year of funding. That is unless someone else has a use for an eccentric graduate student in medieval and early modern history, with a loud theatrical style of lecturing.


Anonymous said...

to write a letter of recommendation

Izgad said...


Clarissa said...

I'm so sorry to hear this, Izgad! In what way, do they suggest, your "touch" isn't right?

James Pate said...

You can teach at the school Dr. Linus teaches at!

But, seriously, I hope and pray that you find something, and I really like that letter of recommendation the student wrote for you. That offers me some guidance on how I will teach when I do so---trying the material to what's relevant (current events).

Izgad said...

I think this is one of those neurotypical mysteries as to why I rubbed certain students the wrong way. To be fair to the administration, I lacked the ability to put fires. Problems in my classroom had a way of becoming big enough to catch the administration’s notice. At the end of the day I brought too much baggage with me.

Bringing in current events is tricky, because I believe it is important to avoid turning history into modern politics. For example the Iraq War, I am not about to use history to make a simplistic case for or against the war. What I will do is bring up Iraq as an example of how wars can be more complicated than simply superior firepower and battlefield victory and that often the share cost of financing a war and not even the cost in lives will bring a side down.

Melanie Yergeau said...

I'm sorry to hear that you won't be staying next year. That really stinks.

But... does this mean that you'll return to Columbus? You are missed over here!