Temple Times Online Edition
    NOVEMBER 17, 2005
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Lindback winner Woyshner puts joy into the classroom

The Christian R. and Mary F. Lindback Foundation has granted Temple additional time to identify winners for its annual awards, and four outstanding faculty members were selected as 2005 winners. Christine Woyshner will be included in the faculty convocation in April 2006.

Tuesday, 5:12 p.m.


In Room 207 of Ritter Hall, Christine Woyshner is talking to her undergraduate secondary education students about keeping students engaged in the classroom.

“I can’t just tell you, ‘Do these things, and everything will be perfect,’” Woyshner, an associate professor of social studies education in the College of Education, said.

But as she walked amidst her circle of students, Woyshner provided a lesson in engagement simply by engaging them herself.

“You seized a moment there. That was good,” she said as a student talked about a recent classroom student teaching moment.

“I like this modification,” she said to another.

“See how hard this is?” she asked the group after she demonstrated a “fishbowl” exercise, in which some of her students sat in a small circle and passed around and described a historic object … in this case, a pasta crimper important to Woyshner’s family heritage.

“This kind of teaching takes time,” Woyshner emphasized to her students. “It has to be part of your goals, what you’re trying to accomplish with your students.”

Friendly, approachable and encouraging, Woyshner, a Temple faculty member since 1999 who has been awarded a 2005 Christian R. and Mary F. Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching, describes teaching as a “joyful, yet rigorous” process. Just don’t call it fun.

The former second- and third-grade teacher from Lackawanna, N.Y., who left teaching elementary school to study under the legendary Vito Perrone at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education, is all business in the classroom.

“Fun to me is fluff. Cotton candy is fun,” Woyshner said. “But to me, being joyful is being engaged. It’s being able to engage students over time.”

Though she left teaching elementary school after five years in the same urban district she attended as a child, Woyshner’s formative years leading a classroom still inform her scholarship and teaching at Temple daily, she said.

“By teaching in my racially, linguistically and ethnically diverse hometown, I learned about the role of community in schooling, the challenges of teaching a diverse population, and the expectations that I had for myself as a classroom teacher.

“But I wanted more,” Woyshner said, noting that she pursued graduate work and her doctorate because she wanted to have both more intellectual challenges and a wider impact with students.

“Teaching for understanding goes beyond teaching for knowing,” said Woyshner, part of the first generation of her family to attend college and the daughter of blue-collar, socially conscious parents.

“We apply the facts, but it’s beyond kids’ just regurgitating. We want kids to do projects, write papers, think in new ways.”

The graduate of D’Youville College and Buffalo State College has found her niche at Temple, where, in addition to being a professor in the department of curriculum, instruction and technology in education, she is also an affiliated faculty member in urban education and women’s studies.

“Temple was a great fit. My whole life is urban education.

“The students I’m teaching are a lot like me. They’re hard-working folks. I see myself as that.”

- By Barbara Baals