“Curious About Everything”, Dr. Mikki Hebl, Psychology

There are a lot of award winning teachers at Rice. So even though I would like to think that I’m not a dime a dozen, I know that I am.  But at Rice, a dime a dozen is a great thing.  What do I do to try to be successful? I have passion, I do experiential learning, and I care about students.  But I know lots of other teachers who don’t exhibit great levels of passion, don’t do experiential learning, and maybe don’t even care that much about the personal lives of their students, and yet, they are tremendously successful.  So I don’t have the secrets of what makes a good teacher figured out.

One common ground seems to involve maintaining interest and staying intellectually curious. For me, it’s staying curious about everything and about what the students might be thinking this round or this year or even this class. Because there are always some new ones who surprise you, make you question things anew, and ask you to provide insights you didn’t before address or consider. So, I try very hard to be open and be curious.

What makes me excited? I think at the end of the day, what makes me feel proud is to think about helping students get excited about new material and helping to usher them safely to the next stage in their lives. I think about a lot of the guardian angel teachers that I had, and I hope I’m one of them to some of my students. It would dishearten me to know that I am not encouraging them. Life is hard, and it’s difficult to find your way in the world when you are 17-21, and I’d like to help be a tour guide for young people, just as others have helped me find my way.