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Past Winners of the Teacher of the Week

Clare Dannenberg


The Center for Instructional Development and Educational Research (CIDER) recognizes Clare Dannenberg, associate professor of English, for populating the world with linguists! Dr. Dannenberg teases students at the beginning of each of her classes that she will convert them all into becoming linguists. While students may chuckle at her prognostication, they come away from her classes with a transformed understanding of how language works in their world.

In Dr. Dannenberg's graduate and undergraduate linguistics courses, she provides opportunities for students to conduct hands-on research with “real-world” data that they collect. At the same time, though, Dr. Dannenberg charges her students to interrogate the theory she teaches relying on their own experience and their collected data. She encourages students to critically reflect on the ethics of data collection and the responsibilities of reporting their findings. Dr. Dannenberg creates a community of scholarship and learning. She sees her classroom as a laboratory and her students as co-participants in research projects.

Whether teaching online at a distance--Skyping with students and lecturing through Centra--or teaching face-to-face in a conventional classroom, Dr. Dannenberg works to create an informal, community-based learning environment. In her experience, the more informal the learning context and the more approachable she is both inside and outside of the classroom directly correlates with student success at mastering the material.

Dr. Dannenberg is a member of the Academy of Teaching Excellence and is a Diggs Teaching Scholar. Her students see her as having "the inherent and most evident love for the subject (and life itself) [which] made it almost impossible not to engage in the class, and enjoy learning about something that touches the lives of all (or most) humans. Professor Dannenberg is tough, but efficient and a distinct professional."

While not every student who takes her class goes on to become a linguist, her students do leave her class with a true appreciation of the discipline: "Clare made this class interesting and fun and because of this, I wanted to learn the materials more than I have in previous classes and I enjoyed participating in class discussions. This [Linguistics] is the most beneficial class I have taken at Virginia Tech."

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