In 2016, the Faculty of Mathematics awarded two individuals with distinctions in teaching. One of those awards went to Professor John Watrous. The other award was given to Professor Ruxandra Moraru.
When Moraru started teaching courses in pure mathematics 11 years ago, there were enough challenges coming up with ways to present the material that it’s something she’s not grown tired of.
“Teaching for me just kind of happened, and it’s still happening. I enjoy the challenge of teaching students about something I’m passionate about. It’s a unique and incredible job and something that’s intellectually challenging.”
Besides being intellectually challenging, Moraru finds it rewarding to see students really connect with abstract material. “Teaching is an opportunity to see how people think. It’s a chance to help people grow. If people let you, you can really help them.”
Moraru’s tool kit for teaching involves a blackboard and chalk – something common among mathematicians. But something that may be less common is keeping the pace she teaches at quick. “With a blackboard, students get room to think. It takes time to write and teaching in such a tight space makes students think more because they have to be actively engaged or they may miss something.”
Her advice for colleagues who are teaching for the first time is to be yourself. “If you’re not a jokester, don’t tell jokes. If you have a style or a particular way of learning, stick to it. If students see that you’re putting in the effort, they’ll find value in it and adapt to your teaching methods.”
Watrous and Moraru join 18 past recipients of the Faculty of Mathematics Award for Distinction in Teaching since its inception:
- 2015 – Steve Drekic and David Harmsworth
- 2014 - Penny Haxell and Javid Ali
- 2013 - Dan Wolczuk and Yu-Ru Liu
- 2012 – Stephen New and Levent Tuncel
- 2011 – J.P. Pretti and Jeffrey Shallit
- 2010 – Serge D’Alessio and Alfred Menezes
- 2009 – Ian Goulden and Troy Vasiga
- 2008 – Robin Cohen and David McKinnon
- 2007 – Beverly Marshman and Ian VanderBurgh
Nominate your outstanding Faculty of Mathematics teacher for this award!