Photo courtesy of Tarleton Media Relations
Tarleton State University’s Center for Educational Excellence is now hosting the Texan Talks series. According to their website the Texan Talks focus on research, teaching, service and leadership. This year there have been two Texan Talks already with two more planned for the spring semester. The Second Texan Talk featured Dr. David Frazier the 2019-2020 Jack and Louise Arthur Excellence in Teaching Award winner. The Jack and Louise Arthur Excellence in Teaching Award recognizes an influential and committed faculty member who showcases Excellence in University Teaching.
“Sometimes I sit by and think that I’ve lived a dream in my lifetime of being a teacher. It’s something that I’ve always been very passionate about and something that I’ve always wanted to do. I remember in my early childhood teaching kids to do different things. Teaching was just something that I guess came into my being, in my psyche very early in my lifetime and I always had high school teachers that would say you’re going to be an amazing teacher and it was something that I always thought about,” Dr. Frazier said.
Dr. Frazier accredits a lot of his success in teaching to his previous teachers including, who some could consider his first teacher, his mother.
“Teachers would always work with me and they would challenge me on all the things that I’ve done and they would constantly say you would be a great teacher, whatever that meant. I’ve tried to figure that out for years a lot of it I give credit to my mother. My mother was one of those kinds that when you asked questions, she never really just gave you the answer she would always say I don’t know what do you think? So, I was always coming up with really creative ways to get away with things or to deal with things,” Dr. Frazier said. “I was very lucky to have an agriculture science teacher at my high school that kind of fit all these pieces of these puzzles together and was able to show me just what a great career teaching can be. Not just in agriculture but in any curriculum at any level there is something very distinct about being a teacher.”
Dr. Frazier’s ideas on what it takes to be an excellent teacher revolve around success in doing his job, which to him means success in teaching his students.
“One of my favorite comments that I’ve developed over the years, people are always asking me at every level, what’s the key to being a good teacher? I’m not saying that I’m a good teacher by any means I’ve just been very blessed to have great students that were fun to work with. For me, teaching is a big difference between giving students information and teaching them that information,” Dr. Frazier said. “I think as we focus in on what it takes to be an excellent teacher you have to look at the fact that we have a job to do. You need to go in there and actually teach students material.”
Dr. Frazier learned from his experience while he taught at a high school how to involve his students in his lectures and keep their attention. Keeping his student’s attention is something that he has found to be vital in making sure that they retain this information.
“When you show them, when you teach them the information you want them to have, it makes a world of difference. A lot of my philosophies of teaching have developed on [my] early years of teaching. I remember very distinctly trying to teach a lesson about typography [and] I had a young man that was in the class that had a lot of learning disabilities. He kept looking at me and he was like I just don’t understand what you mean when you say typography or slope and he just couldn’t grasp the concept. So finally, I went over and I grabbed a table pushed it up in the air so it made this great slope and I said ok young man. Here is a slope, we go from higher to lower you got that? And he was like yeah, I got that. Then I said now what happens when you put water on a slope? And I grabbed a glass of water and I poured it in the table and it ran off. All of a sudden that little kid looked at me and he [said] okay that makes sense and I never forgot that through the years,” Dr. Frazier said. “So, I learned that if I were to just teach him this, show him this, illustrate this and make sure that he had it that would be something that I need to take to all of my students.”
Dr. Frazier has continued to integrate this teaching style to the best of his abilities while here at Tarleton.
“So, through the years I’ve developed a teaching style where I’m not only lecturing. I absolutely despise just straight lecture and unfortunately when we get to the post-secondary level we do a lot of lectures just for the shear nature of our business. We go in, we lecture, we expect students to grab concepts and then we give them these exams where they just regurgitate the information back to us. It seems like a great way of teaching but it’s actually the lowest level [of retention,]” Dr. Frazier said.
This Texan Talk took place on March 2, 2021 from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. over Zoom. The Future Texan Talks are planned to be during this time period. The next Texan Talk is scheduled for Wednesday, March 24, 2021 and will feature Dr. Scott Cook, the 2019-2020 Engaged Faculty Award winner. After that the final Texan Talk of the spring semester will be on Tuesday, April, 6 and will feature The 2019-2020 Faculty Excellence in Student Success Award winner, Dr. Bryant Wyatt.
To learn more about and attend any future Texan Talks you can register on their website at: www.tarleton.edu/cee/texan-talks.html