Ben Fancy and Nikole Bonacorsi are this year’s lead teaching consultants at the Sheridan Center. As consultants, Fancy and Bonacorsi, foster the goals of the Sheridan Center in many ways. Together they facilitate training sessions for graduate students new to teaching and organize the Teaching Consultant Speaker Program to bring experts to campus to share their insights on teaching. They also work to build community among the other Teaching Consultants.
Bonacorsi is a fifth-year PhD candidate in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology studying plant evolution. Through her research, she has investigated plant growth and architecture, and described a new plant of the Devonian Period. Teaching has been an important part of Bonacorsi’s graduate school experience. “It's so much fun to spend time discussing important issues in teaching and learning with a big interdisciplinary group of peers. I'm a paleobotanist, and the plants I study are ~400 million years old, so it's really nice to get out of the lab and interact with living people at Sheridan.”
Fancy, a sixth-year PhD candidate in the French Studies Department, studies strategies employed by seventeenth-century French fiction writers to convey the inner thoughts and emotions of their characters. He is particularly interested in techniques that accomplish this besides use of a third-person narrator which later became more popular. Fancy’s study of how authors convey inner thoughts drives his interest in how we convey ideas about teaching. He believes once these ideas are shared we can begin to evaluate them. This becomes especially powerful when the ideas come from different fields. “It’s really a tremendous experience to be able to talk about what teaching looks like with other graduate students from different disciplines and think deeply about the ways in which teaching strategies and signature pedagogies from other fields can inform my own teaching” says Fancy.
Both Bonacorsi and Fancy find the interdisciplinary nature of the Sheridan Center for Teaching and Learning very rewarding and emphasize that in integral part of their role is connecting with students of different fields eager to learn and teach.