Conference picture

Past Winners of the Teacher of the Week

Alexander Dickow


The Center for Instructional Development and Educational Research (CIDER) recognizes Alexander Dickow, assistant professor of Foreign Languages and Literatures, for being a practitioner of a communicative and immersive approach to language teaching, speaking in French as much as possible, while seeking a balance between many student-driven group and individual activities, and brief, energetic teacher-oriented presentations and class discussions.

A very nearly all-French classroom requires that the professor give the students permission to make mistakes, that an atmosphere of trust be established between teacher and student, and that the students accept that understanding is a process, not an immediately accessible product. This has been a challenging dynamic to build as a young teacher, but Dr. Dickow has made progress in creating this immersive language environment. Students in Elementary (1st-year) French in Spring 2014 were particularly pleased with the results of a communicative approach. Dickow also prefers frequent quizzes or short exams, so that students are evaluated more frequently but less intensively, encouraging more frequent processing of the material. Students in several courses, such as Elementary French and Topics in Business French (FR 4164/5164) have expressed their enthusiasm for this approach to testing and assessment.

As class material, Dr. Dickow enjoys exposing students as much as possible to the riches of world art and history, as in this semester’s French Culture and Civilization (FR 3205), in which students have seen (to date) images from a Medieval Book of Hours, a 1913 two-meter-high Futurist poem decorated in vivid colors, a 1960’s French pop hit about Charlemagne, and a clip from a 1928 silent film about Joan of Arc by the great Carl Theodor Dreyer, among others. Outside the classroom, Professor Dickow particularly loves working one-on-one with students on their writing and research. Last spring, a student pursued research on French Science Fiction with Dr. Dickow, reporting: “I loved seeing myself grow in the French language as each book became easier to read. I had no idea how extensive and interesting the French science fiction genre could be and am grateful I had the opportunity to explore it with research.”

Professor Dickow vaunts last year’s CIDER New Faculty/Early Career Teaching Certificate workshop program as a wonderful occasion to reflect on teaching practices. Dickow has put CIDER’s resources and expertise to work through in-class observations and filming and formative evaluations, and he feels that teachers new and experienced should take advantage of these tools. As a young and dedicated teacher, they have helped Professor Dickow build his confidence and begin reaching challenging teaching goals. For Dickow, VT has been and continues to be a source of considerable growth as a teacher.

Website on Professor Dickow’s research, translation and creative writing endeavors (Links to Dr. Dickow's past teaching experiences will be forthcoming on the website soon):


( 1028 )

Nominate a
Teacher of the Week

The goal of the Teacher of the Week program is to recognize effective, engaged, and dynamic teachers. Please consider nominating a teacher; the process is clear and concise (no dossiers; see nomination page).

View Past Winners

A list of the past winners is available.