Rebecca TaylorBy Susan Trulove
Spectrum Volume 17 Issue 27 - April 6, 1995
"Becky's strength is her passion," writes Jim Laughlin in his nomination of Rebecca Greenberg Taylor for Virginia Tech's Graduate Teaching Award.
Laughlin, who is Taylor's advisor as a graduate teaching assistant in English, continues, "She is passionate about teaching, passionate about the transformative possibilities of reading and writing, passionate about the necessity of a supportive community of engaged students in the classroom. She cares greatly about her students."
That is evident in her own statements about her philosophy. "Students must care about their words and about the effects those words have upon other people," Taylor says. She has her students write daily and, by putting their words on a computer program shared by all the students, receive immediate feedback from one another "which heightens their awareness of how writing affects an audience."
Writing daily also allows students to build fluency, and to question their assumptions about language and culture. "In a collaborative environment, students begin to see themselves in relation to others, realizing that the voices around them have contributed to their own understanding of how culture is contructed--of how we apprehend culture through language. Students in turn raise their own voices in order to join that chorus."
"One of the great strengths of Becky's course is the serious attention she gives to encouraging the students to revise their work--by which she means not only correcting errors but re-seeing, reenvi-sioning, rethinking," writes Fritz Oehlschlaeger.
GTA advisor Thomas Kerr writes, "Becky's first-year composition students leave her classes writing as competently as many sophomore and even junior English majors....Ms. Taylor is the teacher who, for all the right reasons, one does not soon forget."
Students write, "The thing that has been most beneficial to me was the teacher's openness and honesty in class. Also the specific time R. Taylor made for each one of us." And, "It was made clear that we all should have the opportunity to say how we felt without the fear of being told we were wrong/right." Many students commented on improved writing skills.
Taylor, who earned her undergraduate degree from Virginia Tech in 1991, also served as research assistant on Oehlschlaeger's project looking at the ways religion is presented in `cultural' composition readers; assisted Eileen Scheel, co-director of the writing program, in research on `political correctness' debates; put together an annotated reader of materials that can supplement the text in Freshman English; was an English tutor for Upward Bound; served as the graduate-student representative on the department's composition committee; founded the Group for Graduate Student Professional Development; tutors in the Writing Center; presented four conference papers; and served as assistant to the coordinator for GTA orientation. She is a member of Phi Beta Kappa, the National Council of Teachers of English, Conference on College Composition and Communication, and Southeastern Women's Studies Association. Taylor taught English and was director of theater arts at Indian River High School in Chesapeake, before returning to college. She has been accepted for doctoral study at Purdue and Ohio State universities.