PhD Candidate Sociology
Spring 2023 Winner
Michael Ryan's teaching philosophy revolves around creating a positive and engaging learning environment where students are encouraged to stretch their boundaries, embrace challenges, and embrace the journey of growth. His approach centers on the understanding that many students often enter college with apprehensions about making mistakes, maintaining academic performance, and navigating a competitive environment. In response, Ryan fosters a classroom environment where it is acceptable to fail, learn from those failures, and collectively grow.
Ryan's strengths as a teacher lie in his straightforward approach, patience, and creativity. Every course, whether on a micro or macro level, follows a well-defined roadmap with clearly articulated objectives and expectations. Ryan believes that this roadmap forms a partnership between the student and the teacher, fostering an environment in which students can openly discuss challenges and seek guidance to get back on track. To address varying skill levels among students, assignments are scaffolded, ensuring that everyone has an opportunity to receive the support they need before submitting their work.
Ryan's personal background, as the first person in his family to graduate from college, has afforded him a unique perspective on the feelings of inadequacy and difference that many students experience. He approaches interactions with students with an awareness of his social context and understanding of the diverse backgrounds his students come from. This empathy-driven approach has made his classroom more welcoming to students from a wide range of backgrounds, and his students appreciate the uniqueness of his teaching.
A standout aspect of Ryan's teaching approach is his commitment to fostering respectful dialogue among students with differing viewpoints. Through surveys, group discussions, and essay assignments, students are encouraged to respect and understand views that may differ from their own. This not only strengthens the learning community but also nurtures empathy and the ability to engage constructively with differing opinions.
Ryan's innovative and empathetic approach to teaching has earned him the Outstanding Graduate Student Instructor Award in the social sciences, reflecting his dedication to nurturing students during their time at Baylor.
What Students Say
I have never encountered a professor as passionate and supportive as Professor Ryan. He supported our interest and went to great lengths to ensure we would be successful. He truly puts all he can into the class with the goal we leave more informed and wanting to create change. His impact was not apparent in only me, but all of his students.