Community Champion Greta Golick
Greta Golick teaches courses in book history and print culture and workshops in bookmaking at the Faculty of Information. Each summer since 2013, she curates student book art projects into an exhibition in the Robarts Library. She is a graduate of the Faculty of Information at U of T (2000 and 2010). Prof. Golick is an active member of the Canadian Book Artists and Bookbinders Guild and a member of several other international bibliophilic organizations.
In the nomination, the student states that you “create a nurturing environment where all students feel like equals” in your class. Could you tell us a bit more about how you accomplish this, and why it’s an important aspect of your approach to teaching?
I teach a class with both masters and PhD students, and it’s possible that some professors could treat the students differently based on this fact, but I don’t. I treat them all as equals and create an equal playing field for all students. I do a lot for my students, I try to be very available, they have my cell phone number, they can call or text me if they need to. But I also have expectations for my students, like having them come to every class, that’s our contract. If they can’t make it to class, I understand, things happen, but I want them to let me know, either through a simple text message or e-mail.
This program is a lot of work, and students do get nervous, especially about due dates, and if I find a student is anxious about due dates, I try to be very flexible. Again, I just ask that they communicate with me, let me know that they need more time, and I have no problem extending the deadline. I just expect the student to take the initiative to communicate that to me.
I really want my students to be successful.
I also often bring food to class, particularly on the last day of class and when we have presentations scheduled. I think it helps to alleviate some of the stress.
Discussions about health are often related to concerns about healthy eating, physical activity, managing stress, and sleep. We’d be interested to hear from you, your thoughts on the concept of a “healthy campus” and how it can been integrated into the classroom setting?
While I do try to do those things for myself, like eating well, getting enough sleep, and exercising, I don’t know that I tell my students that they should do those things. They are very stressed, I know that. Things are so speeded up, and then they come in to my class, and I think, because of what we do in that class, they are able to slow down. I teach a class about books, beautiful books, and when my students spend time in the class looking at these beautiful books, and maybe taking a break from their digital lives for a time, I see them begin to slow down and relax.
In the nomination, the student describes you as approachable and supportive, and that your “love of learning seeps into each class and each field trip, and it’s wonderful.” Please let us know what this nomination as a Healthy Campus Champion means to you personally and/or professionally?
I’m surprised. I’ve always worked this way – very hands on. The nomination is very validating for me and my approach to teaching. I care a lot about my students, I care about them as people. I also learn from my students. That’s one of the things I enjoy so much about teaching: students always bring something new to the discussion.
My students have a project where they make their own books. Again, they’re creating something beautiful, and it’s a slow process, but the students love it. I think the opportunity to engage in this kind of activity, making things with their hands, is wonderful and relaxing.
We would also be interested to hear if you have suggestions about what more could be done to foster campus environments that support the wellbeing of our students?
Building relationships between faculty and students, I think this is important. I know it can be hard to do in big classes. I’m not saying that students need to build relationships with all of their professors, but at least one. I think this is key to having a really good university experience. I think it’s important that they find one person that really inspires them, whether it be a professor or another student. It makes their experience richer, and will probably go a long way in terms of supporting their mental health.