When most students think about history, the first words that generally pop into their head are tedious and boring, but, according to students at the College of Southern Maryland, history cannot only be fun it might become your favorite class if it is taught by CSM Assistant Professor Chretien Guidry.
In a recent assessment conducted by RateMyProfessor.com, Guidry earned ninth place in a ranking of the countrys highest rated junior and community college professors. The ranking is based on on-line evaluations submitted directly by students, good or bad. Unlike end-of-semester class evaluations, these comments are unsolicited, meaning that students have personally chosen to post their comments about a given professor, their performance and the quality of the subject matter presented. According to RateMyProfessor.com, more than 7.5 million student-generated ratings have been posted on more than one million college professors.
I feel very honored and humbled by the ranking, said Guidry, who knows how important it is for students to take an active role in obtaining an education and to research the quality of a schools faculty and their courses. He studied accounting at CSM prior to earning a bachelors in history from the University of Maryland and a masters in education from Marymount University.
Its important for students to have as much information about a class as possible and any medium that allows the student to better prepare for a course and the professor that teaches it is one that I support. I relied on word-of-mouth as a student and would have been grateful to have had a resource that allows students to make comments about the professors teaching methodology. Do they give lots of exams, how do they lecture, what is their grading system, are they bias or objective about the material? I believe these are legitimate questions to ask, said Guidry, who has been teaching at CSM for more than nine years and appreciates the connection to his students. The students are the ones who make the magic in my class happen, and keep me motivated, he said.
I remember teaching Western Civilization for the first time and I was sitting outside the Francis P. Chiaramonte, M.D. Center for Science and Technology going, Oh, my gosh. Im going to go in there and teach. These people are going to be depending on me. I was excited but also very nervous. I had been a student for almost 16 years and now I was going to be up-front. Were discussing early human beings like Homo sapiens, Sapiens, Homo erectus and Australopithecus and I remember the very first question was whether there were dinosaurs running around with human beings and were they eating them and stuff like that? It was just a great question, because it was so honest and it came from me being able to create an atmosphere where the student felt comfortable asking. I told her that to my knowledge there werent any T-Rexs running around with cave people but that I could relate to her curiosity when you see it in the movies. It established a very thick bond of trust with the students there was a connection there and that connection has never been lost, said Guidry, whose students posted more than 60 entries on RateMyProfessor.com discussing Guidry and his history courses.
Guidry brings history to life; [he] makes you want to learn and be involved. I've never had a better teacher. His passion for teaching and the will for his students to succeed is amazing. When it comes to history Dr. Guidry is the one to take, said User, Hst1014, 11/17/08
Never have I seen someone so in love with teaching. He is one of the most influential and motivating teachers in all my years of education. He gives his students a diverse look at history This was the first college class that I was actually EXCITED to go to, said User, Hst1032, 4/1/08
This man truly cares about his students! Because he was one, and he isn't afraid to say so. He can identify, which makes someone personable, said User, Hst1014, 11/6/06
Guidry says he hasnt forgotten his journey from former student to professor at CSM. In 1991, I was fixing to graduate from McDonough High School. I was in a vocational tech course and the college provided us with the use of their computers. I remember wondering how I was going to get my degree, a job, everything like that. When I would come to campus, heres this wooded area and I could suddenly breathe a little bit. Theres a relaxing atmosphere here that hasnt changed. When I ended up working here, I remember just feeling the importance of being able to work with people and affect positive change in their lives. Now, knowing that my class and approach to history has made a difference to my students only fuels my determination to strive to make history even more exciting, knowledgeable and fun for those who take it, he said.
A regionally accredited community college that provides programs and services with a special focus on local workforce development to maintain and grow a healthy economy and community, the College of Southern Maryland is a silver level recipient of the 2008 Maryland Performance Excellence Award. CSM, founded in 1958, is the fifth largest community college in Maryland with campuses in Calvert, Charles and St. Marys counties. For information about CSM, call 301-934-7765 or 301-870-2309, 240-725-5499 or 443-550-6199, Ext. 7765 or visit www.csmd.edu.
Be Tough Yet Thought-Provoking, Says CSMs Guidry
Teaching is an art and like any art it takes practice and determination. CSM History Professor Chretien Guidry shares his thoughts on how to work towards being a favorite teacher – tough as nails yet fun and thought-provoking.
1. Vary class activities. Since most of people can only focus on one thing for about 20 minutes, changing from lecture to activity after 30 minutes is a great way to reset the attention timer and to reinforce a theme or point in a lecture.
2. Provide group work opportunities which encourage students to learn from one another and express their ideas and thoughts creatively. In addition, teachers can gauge student mastery of a concept by their responses to the group activity in the class.
3. Be honest and genuine with your students. Sometimes professors and teachers are hesitant to admit that they don't know an answer or made a mistake but admitting that you dont know but will find out shows students that learning is a lifelong process. It also earns you their respect and makes you more approachable.
4. Flexibility. Certainly, you don't want the philosophy of “anything goes, however, it is important to remember that students have lives and responsibilities outside of the classroom. You shouldnt penalize students for things beyond their scope of control like accidents, deaths etc.
5. Remember you are the captain of the ship, your students need you. While students want to have fun, they also want to learn and they need teachers who are willing to teach them. What they learn about the material and more importantly about themselves is in your hands. So take command, be confident and know that you are helping them, and hopefully changing their lives in a positive way.