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Michael Bowman Receives UW Excellence in Teaching Award

College of Education Ph.D. student Michael Bowman has worked side-by-side with faculty in UW classrooms, teachers in local elementary school classrooms, and educators in community organizations. They describe him as creative, generous, and tireless. College of Education faculty member Nancy Beadie, says that Bowman’s teaching is, “intellectually rich and scholarly sophisticated.”

michael bowman

Michael Bowman
Photo credit: Mary Levin

Recently, Bowman received widespread recognition for his work through the UW Excellence in Teaching Award, which acknowledges outstanding teaching skills in the classroom. He is one of two UW graduate students to receive this honor for 2012. Most recently, Bowman taught in the elementary Teacher Education Program and the UW undergraduate education program.

Nancy Beadie, his advisor, states, “Michael Bowman is a truly innovative pedagogue whose path-breaking approaches to "place conscious" teaching transcend the divide between K-12 and higher education, school and community, teacher and student. “

A student in the area of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies, Bowman believes that some of the richest learning comes from making educational history and policy specific to Seattle. In his courses, students craft and lead interviews with local educators and policy makers, muck around with historical and contemporary Seattle Schools documents, and have guided experiences in neighborhoods surrounding schools. 

His appreciation for this ‘place conscious pedagogy’ dates back to his master’s work at UW in 2004. As part of his master’s academic endeavor, Bowman worked with Wing Luke Elementary School students and teachers (including current Special Education PhD student, Kate Napolitan) to create a curriculum that explored the political, musical, and cross-cultural history of  Jackson Street in Seattle.

Upon returning to the College of Education to pursue doctoral studies, Bowman participated in a qualitative research project, led by Morva McDonald, about how to develop strong teachers within a community and how to place these trained, skillfully thoughtful teachers into schools. The team engaged elementary teacher candidates, Seattle based community-based organization leaders, and collaborating faculty to address this issue.

Bowman’s interest in the link between place and education is deeply rooted in his own research pursuits as well.

“I am really interested in the relationship between people's 'sense of place' or ‘identity with place’ and their involvement in educational provision,” Bowman explains. “How does one's attachment to- or alienation from- 'place' impact their participation in educational settings and/or their desire to imagine what is possible in education?”

Bowman teachers a Social Foundations course to elementary teacher education candidates at Concord elementary school in Seattle each summer. Teacher Education Program Director Kenneth Zeichner praises Bowman’s ability to successfully implement this model. “Teachers need to know about the assets and histories of the communities in which they teach and Michael Bowman's innovative work is a model for teacher education programs around the country” Zeichner states.

Bowman’s own dissertation research will likely focus on the larger question of the ‘neighborhood school.’ He plans to closely examine Seattle’s ‘neighborhood schools’, looking closely at how historical trends -  such as racism and spatial segregation, urban planning policy, and federal housing policy played out in regard to education.

“I am trying to tell a long historical story using Seattle as a case study,” Bowman elaborates, “about how the rhetoric of the 'neighborhood school' has at certain times been used by real estate developers motivated by increased profit; at other times by residents as a code for white supremacy, racial fear, and restriction; at other times by residents as a code for the liberatory power of education; and at still other times a pronouncement of post-racialism and the triumph of a liberal color-blind society. As school districts around the country return to policies of 'neighborhood schools' (partially due to the 2007 Supreme Court ruling involving Seattle Schools [Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle Schools]), I am asking how we, from teachers and College of Education faculty to community leaders and activists, can bring this history to bear on how we act in the present.” 

Although Bowman is lauded for his own teaching abilities, he asserts that he has found stellar examples through his own UW coursework.

“I am very fortunate to have seen many amazing teachers in this College,” says Bowman. “To be a student in a Nancy Beadie class or a Walter Parker class is to see and experience great teaching. So, I have this image of great University teaching and I will work, work, work to try to get somewhere near that.”

When he isn’t in a classroom or community center, you might find Bowman pounding the pavement of Seattle or being guided through places important to others, like his recent tour of his wife’s native Saigon. He is a student of place, it seems, and traversing the urban landscape is a favorite pastime.

Bowman and other award winners will be honored during the annual Awards of Excellence event, scheduled for 3:30-4:30 p.m. Thursday, June 7, in Meany Hall, with a reception to follow in the foyer. The ceremony is free and open to the public. UW Today will publish a special wrap-up of the awards ceremony shortly after the event.

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