Pamela Conners: I’m a Gustie and This is How I Teach

Posted on November 10th, 2015 by

connersPamela Conners

Assistant Professor in Communication Studies

What classes do you regularly teach?

Rhetorical Criticism, Community Advocacy and Social Change, Argumentation and Debate, Public Discourse, Contemporary Rhetoric

What’s the best advice about teaching you’ve ever received?

Listen. You have as much to learn from your students as they do from you.

Tell us about your favorite topic or course to teach.

Lately, I’ve been particularly interested in rhetoric of food and enjoy taking up that topic in class or in an IEX course.

Describe a favorite in-class activity or assignment.

I have been experimenting with ways to use creative writing to enhance student learning. In one course, after exploring the advocacy of several community organizers from the 1960’s, I ask students to write short stories about how an advocate’s work would change if they lived in our contemporary context with the available digital media. The students’ creativity and critical thinking shine in this exercise. Their fictionalized accounts invite us all to more carefully consider both the opportunities and obstacles that the digital realm creates for advocacy work.

What teaching and learning techniques work best for you?IMG_0012

Most of my courses are discussion-based.  I also value the link between theory and practice and the connection between the college and the community, so I’ve been finding new ways to engage more community-based learning in my courses.

Tell us something that you’ve learned about yourself from teaching.

Teaching energizes me.  When I’m feeling exhausted or just overwhelmed, exploring ideas with my students is one of the greatest pick-me-ups.

Three words that best describe your teaching style.

Adaptive, deliberative, relaxed

What is your teaching philosophy in 8 words or fewer?

Foster curiosity, test ideas, and invite new perspectives

Tell us about a teaching disaster (or embarrassment) you’ve had.

I once came to class with the wrong lesson prepared; I had read my own course calendar incorrectly.

IMG_9963What is something your students would be surprised to learn about you?

I like to sew.

What are you currently reading for pleasure?

I just finished Kitchens of the Great Midwest by Ryan Stradal and need to make a trip to the library to pick my next selection.

Who would you like to fill out this survey next?

Betsy Byers

The How I Teach series asks Gustavus faculty members to share their thoughts on assignments, course activities, and teaching in general. Most Tuesdays a new Gustavus faculty member will be featured. If you have someone you want to see featured, let us know. Also, we’d love it if you’d answer the questions yourself and send those along with a few pictures to


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