[Illustration by Santana Questa]
Carole McNall, an assistant professor of journalism and mass communication, is The Intrepid’s cartoonist’s choice for this week.
Mark Belcher (@markbelcherjr), news editor, interviewed McNall, ‘75 alumna, about her teaching philosophy. In the fall 2011 semester, she teaches three sections of JMC 101: Intro to Media and two sections of JMC 300: Media Law.
Belcher: The group of students you teach for the most part is freshmen, correct?
McNall: For some reason I just have not, for the most part, been teaching things that pick up sophomores. I teach Media Law because that’s one of the things I was hired for. I discovered I liked teaching freshman, and I have since asked the dean to keep me teaching (JMC) 101.
Belcher: What can freshman coming into St. Bonaventure expect from your classes?
McNall: JMC 102 (- Language Skills for writers) probably will look different by this fall because we’ve been talking about some revisions in the writing classes, so it’s hard to tell what it will look like. JMC 101 has been a constantly changing thing since I started teaching it, because it’s a constantly changing field … The lawsuit against the founder of Facebook happened (spring 2011) semester, and got pulled into the intro class, because it had some pertinence to a communications medium.
Beclher: Would you say you’re one of those teachers who always has an open door?
McNall: Yeah. My first year teaching full time, Br. Basil (Valente, O.F.M.) told me not to expect to write tests, grade exams or papers in your office. If you manage to do that; that’s gravy, but figure you won’t. Boy was he right! There have been afternoons where one person will walk out the door, and another person will walk in. Partly, that’s one of the pleasures of this job. I don’t have to just walk into a classroom full of 200 people, who are just names on a roster — and that’s pretty much it. I can get to know somebody who walks into my office.
Belcher: Have you found students enjoy your 101 and 102 classes?
McNall: Hopefully, yeah. It’s hard to tell. Some people do poker face far better than I will ever do. I try real hard to make it interesting. And happily, most semesters even some of the people that come into 101 undeclared — and there’s usually at least few — some of them turn around and become JMC majors, so apparently it was interesting at least enough to them that they said, “Yeah, I think I want to go this way.”
Belcher: Let’s talk a little about your personal history.
McNall: I went to law school (at University of Buffalo) not even knowing what I wanted to do with it when I got out. I practiced for a little bit when I did get out, then I got the chance to teach as an adjunct — first at the community college downtown, then both there and here. Within about a year or so of starting, I was looking at my husband and saying if someone were to offer me a full time job I’m grabbing it. I was here teaching a business law class, and Dean Coppola asked me to come to his office and started the conversation with, “So, would you like to teach full time for us?” And I’m like “Yes. Yes I would!”
Belcher: What would the number one piece of advice be for the incoming freshman?
McNall: Don’t be afraid to ask questions, in class, out of class. If you’re confused, almost certainly so is someone else. In class, most professors will happily back up and try again, or look at the person and say, “Stick around a few minutes after class.” We all realize people are coming in here from all kinds of backgrounds.