Students know Michelle Wheeler from her dedicated service as Head Academic Librarian at MSP. This fall, she is also teaching a writing class for doctoral students.
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in south Florida. I visit every winter to visit my parents and soak up the sun.
What appealed to you most about teaching here at MSP?
I have been a librarian at the school since 2007. Teaching research skills has been part of my job since the beginning. Early on, it became clear that research and writing skills are connected. I will be teaching the writing class to first-year doctoral students and trying out some of the ideas I have been collecting over the years.
What are you most passionate about in your professional life?
I want to teach students how to find quality information sources. Especially concerning is the human tendency to readily accept information that matches our existing beliefs.
What is your favorite nonacademic book and why?
Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? is a memoir and a graphic novel by Roz Chast. The year I first read the book, I could not stop talking about it. This book is for everyone, including people who think they do not like graphic novels. Chast approaches topics such as aging and death with authenticity, sincerity, and humor.
Describe your teaching philosophy.
We are all learners and teachers. In the best scenario, we reflect on and shift our ideas to allow new lessons into our life. When we break lessons down into small units, the learning is easier, but then we risk losing sight of the big picture. The short-term focus may be the next paper, but developing solid research and critiquing skills will serve students their entire lives.
What would your students be surprised to learn about you?
One of my first jobs out of college was as a clerk at the Secretary of State’s office where I gave written and road tests to Michigan drivers. My next job was as a court clerk, where I took payments on traffic fines. Later, I worked in a library dedicated to highway safety. These three jobs turned me into a lifelong conscientious driver.
What sage advice would you like to share with students?
At this point in your education, you have developed some solid habits. Some of those habits serve you well; others do not. Be willing to reflect and reconsider how you invest your time. Once you identify some areas for change, work hard to integrate those changes into your life. We are all traveling in well worn grooves that simplify life, but hold us back as well.