To Whom It May Concern:
I took Ms. Waddell’s WRD 110 course in the fall of 2014. I believe that she is an ideal candidate for a WRD teaching award: she is a passionate, innovative, caring educator, and she consistently went the extra mile to give her students the most well-rounded course possible.
Ms. Waddell did not shy away from any topic in our class discussions: she facilitated and encouraged polite debate on matters of race, class, gender, sexual orientation, etc., without appearing biased towards any side of the debate. She could have easily chosen a safer lesson plan, but she placed a particular emphasis on teaching her students the basics of respectful debate and critical analysis. As a student that came from a highly religious high school, I had never been in a classroom environment that welcomed and acknowledged differing opinions on hard-hitting issues: Ms. Waddell’s passion for her curriculum and her students greatly helped me transition into collegiate life. Her course sought not only to improve writing skills, but to teach college freshman how to have thought-provoking yet respectful conversations about any issue.
Ms. Waddell’s passion for her work was clear both inside and outside the classroom: she went out of her way to nominate my final paper from her class for a WRD excellence award. I would have never known to apply for this award by myself, but because of her thoughtfulness my essay was published in The Engaged Citizen. When Ms. Waddell realized that I was majoring in English, she invited me to get coffee with her and discuss potential career paths, helpful tips for succeeding as an undergraduate student, etc. She consistently went (and continues to go) above and beyond her job description as a teaching assistant and supports her students as a mentor figure.
In short, it was apparent to me my freshman year that Ms. Waddell was more invested in my future as an English major and my overall success at UK than my assigned academic advisor. She consistently pushes herself to do more than is required and seeks no reward from it other than the satisfaction taken from seeing her students succeed. She is an extraordinary educator, and I believe that she is a perfect candidate for a WRD teaching award.
On February 11, 2015, I observed Katie Waddell's WRD 111 class, which met Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 12-12:50pm. The topic of the lesson was visual rhetoric: it asked students to draw on their previous knowledge of rhetorical strategies and appeals and apply them to new visual mediums. In this lesson, Ms. Waddell was able to make explicit and useful links to previous learning and to the major projects the students were working on.
The multimodal character of Ms. Waddell's lesson was undoubtedly its strength. In the second half of the lesson, she had students analyze multiple texts, including a video and a website. These texts were both produced by BP following the oil spill in the Gulf. I thought this choice of texts was particularly useful, as it not only allowed for comparisons based on medium but also provided students with a clear context for the production of the text. This section of the lesson produced the strongest responses from students, for this reason. They were able to make assessments about the artifacts based primarily on their different visual characteristics, rather than just on their content or purpose. It is often difficult to create a coherent lesson on visual rhetoric because visual texts vary so widely, but this lesson did so successfully.
I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to sit in on Ms. Waddell's class. She seems to have a good relationship with her students. I particularly like that she opens each class with two minutes of silence: an opportunity for quiet is rarely available to students, and I think it helped strengthen the classroom community. Nearly every student participated at some point in the lesson, which is a testament to the success of the lesson and a strong classroom culture.
Dr. Brandy Scalise
Department of Writing, Rhetoric and Digital Studies
Katie has clearly established a strong rapport with her students and created a comfortable, safe learning environment. That said, she has also clearly established her academic expectations. For example, immediately after she told students to wrap up their responses to a brief writing prompt based on their homework reading assignment, they began collecting and handing in their papers without any additional directions from her. Katie plans classroom time well, moving deftly between writing activities, a mini-lecture with Power Point about audience and the rhetorical situation, video screenings, a large group discussion, and small group work. Katie reads her students well and has a good sense of when they are on task. When students did not need the full time originally allotted for group work, she quickly adjusted her lesson plan and pulled them back into a whole class discussion and then a writing activity that they completed individually before sharing with one another. Katie uses technology effectively in the classroom and chooses accessible and engaging subject matter––popular commercials––to help students go beyond easy, surface analysis so that by the end of the class session, several students were offering subtle and insightful analysis of a Budweiser commercial. (Observing WRD 110, fall 2015)
Assistant Director of Composition
Department of Writing, Rhetoric and Digital Studies
Great rapport with students. Very well organized. Excellent job of explaining why they were doing the various exercises and why they were discussing the topics. No suggested areas of improvement. Very effective teaching. (Observing WRD 111, spring 2016)
Dr. Jeffory Clymer
Professor and Chairperson
Department of English