“Simply put,” says Professor of Sociology Jocelyn S. Viterna, “Miguel Quintana Navarrete is one of the best teaching fellows that we have ever had the pleasure of employing in sociology.” Miguel has taught classical sociological theory for four years, leading classes that are far more intense than most TF positions. Students regularly report that the readings in this theory course are difficult to comprehend and that the intellectual workload is among the most intense of any class at Harvard. Historically, students have struggled to see how the writings of scholars from 200 or 300 years ago are relevant to today.
It is remarkable, then, that sophomores love learning theory under Miguel. In reviewing his evaluations, two themes explain this praise. First, Miguel’s talent in generating useful discussion. “Miguel did an amazing job at breaking down the concepts week by week and promoting useful, intriguing discussion,” said one student. Another commented, “Miguel facilitated thought-provoking discussions very well, maintaining an environment that was a conversational safe space in which no student dominated over others as we grappled with uncomfortable issues and in which students frequently were able to change their opinions in light of what their classmates shared.”
The second theme noted in evaluations was the individual attention and care Miguel provided through his feedback. “There are no comments that are not helpful,” a student wrote. “He challenges us to do better each time and helps us accomplish that.”
Miguel’s mentorship of peer instructors also contributed to the effectiveness of teaching throughout the department. “I was always able to count on Miguel for sage advice on handling curriculum changes, difficult grading decisions, and any inconsistencies that arose across multiple sections of the course,” says Bart Bonikowski, the faculty coordinator of the department’s theory program. “The personal welfare and intellectual growth of our students were of utmost importance to him and informed all of his hard work in the course. His leadership helped the other TFs perform to the best of their ability and it inspired me to continue improving my own teaching. All of us—the students, the TFs, and I—were lucky to have him on the teaching staff.”
“In sum, Miguel is one of the most successful teaching fellows we have had in the long history of our program,” Viterna says. “Not just because he has outstanding teaching evaluations, but also because his students uniformly acknowledge that he demands—and successfully elicits—their best work every week.”
Miguel, the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences is pleased to present you with the Derek C. Bok Award for Excellence in Graduate Student Teaching of Undergraduates. Congratulations!