Mary Steinhardt

Mary Steinhardt

Department of Kinesiology & Health Education
Senior Fellow

What motivated you to become a PTF?

To be around faculty who care immensely about teaching so that I can continue to grow and become a better teacher. I have thoroughly enjoyed the fellowship, the campus-wide conversations, and all the wonderful resources on the Faculty Innovation Center website.

What inspired your passion for teaching?

The most influential people in my life have been teachers—my mom and dad—and many others who served as great role models. They modeled honesty, respect, integrity, humility, confidence, compassion, and creativity. They motivated me to find the courage within myself to grow professionally as well as personally; they motivated me to live with intention and realize my potential, and they supported me every step of the way. My goal is to pass this gift on to others. 

What advice do you have for other teachers?

Being a teacher is a privileged position that demands humility as much as respect. It is important that teachers recognize the capacity of this role to influence, and so self-reflection regarding one’s actions is crucial. I’m most effective when I show up on time with a good attitude, do my best, have fun, and model an openness to learning and respect for others. I have high expectations and strive to optimize student engagement and success. Since the person who learns the most in any educational setting is the teacher, as often as I can, I change the role of my students from that of student to that of teacher. Finally, if my heart is in the right place and I’m giving a hundred percent, students tend to run with my strengths and overlook my weaknesses (thank goodness). When this happens, we create an environment that supports the core purpose and values of the university, where everybody counts and everybody has a role to play. We share the responsibility and we share the benefits. When we create such an environment within the classroom, lives are transformed, not least my own.

For more on Dr. Steinhardt's work, please visit her homepage or email her at msteinhardt@austin.utexas.edu.

Dr. Steinhardt is a Senior Fellow and serves as mentor for incoming Fellows in the Provost Teaching Fellows program. Find out more about this Faculty Initiative here.