Gary Green, assistant dean of academic affairs and professor in the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, was named a 2019 Josiah Meigs Teaching Professor.
Gary Green makes learning an adventure.
He does this by serving as a catalyst for student learning—igniting their interest in and passion for course material—rather than simply being a provider of course material.
Although Green has taught more than 25 different classes, his primary responsibilities are for several of the core classes within the Warnell School and the parks, recreation and tourism management major. For the past several years, he also has regularly taught or co-taught 10-12 classes of more than 500 students and mentored 10-12 undergraduates and 12-16 graduate students per year.
“His dedication, energy and passion to ensure student success as well as his drive for innovation in teaching is well recognized by all who have worked with him,” said Rahul Shrivastav, vice president for instruction.
Green’s undergraduate classes employ creative, fun ways to inspire learning, including the use of WALL-E to talk about sustainability and a mystery bag of prizes to encourage the asking of questions. Students also have mock snowball or beach ball fights, where they write their opinions about a topic on a piece of paper, ball it up and toss it around the room. These activities allow students to share their opinions anonymously, which leads to open discussions.
When several graduate students selected to serve as teaching assistants told Green they felt unprepared to teach undergraduates, he created a mentoring system to help them become better instructors. The system developed their teaching skills by providing in-class, mini-teaching opportunities—that developed into full lectures—that provided systematic constructive feedback to the TAs.
To continue to improve as an instructor, Green believes he needs to expand his teaching knowledge and skills, while finding new ways to be fresh and innovative. To achieve this, he volunteers to teach campus-wide seminars and workshops, and he mentors other faculty across campus to help them become stronger instructors.
Over time, Green’s role as teacher transforms into one of being a lifelong mentor. He stays in regular contact with many of his students. For him, people’s long-term education, growth and professional development are the best metrics of his qualities as a teacher and mentor.