Distinguished Teaching Award Recipient 2020, Dr. Shawn Bubel
I believe that students learn best when they are fully engaged with the topics they are studying. By using a variety of approaches, teachers can engage students and foster a deeper understanding of the material. Students who are immersed in and excited about the material being taught embark on their own paths of discovery. This is why I am a strong advocate of experiential learning. The field schools I teach are the ultimate experiential learning experience. There is no better way to learn how to do archaeological fieldwork and laboratory research than by actually doing it. Not only do the students learn a great deal about the discipline, they learn how to work with others, and, perhaps most importantly, they learn about themselves. For many, participating in an archaeological field school is a transformative experience. This was the case for me, and I do my utmost to provide similar opportunities for my students.
I am also a strong supporter of liberal education. Teachers must make every effort to expose students to different disciplines and ways of knowing, with the goal of creating well-rounded students who have a more holistic understanding of our world. Teachers must also foster critical thinking. Students will be exposed to an enormous amount of information throughout their lifetime. Being able to think critically will allow them to intelligently process and evaluate these data. It also gives them the tools to problem solve, explore new ideas, and push boundaries. Learning is a lifelong process and I strive to prepare students for their future. This means not just teaching them discipline-specific material but also the tools to navigate and succeed no matter the career path they take.
I use these same approaches when working with community learners. I regularly visit K-12 schools and run events, such as lecture series, artifact identification weekends, workshops, field trips, and conferences for the public. I strive to engage and inspire all my “students”, to promote curiosity, and to instill a desire to learn more. I ensure that my “classroom”, wherever it is, is an environment of inclusion and support, with an atmosphere of shared excitement alongside collaboration of critical thought.