June 25, 2012
Alumni teaching award goes to Jacobellis at SAIS Bologna
Fabrizio Jacobellis, adjunct professor of international economics at SAIS Bologna, was awarded the Johns Hopkins Alumni Association Excellence in Teaching Award for academic year 2011–12 during the SAIS Bologna Commencement Ceremony, held May 26 in Bologna, Italy.
Below are Jacobellis’ responses to the questions The Gazette has asked all the recipients.
How would you describe your teaching philosophy? Teaching is about interaction with the class, with each and every student, and about giving them the comfort that no one will be left behind during the entire course, no matter how challenging this can be.
What’s the best piece of teaching advice you ever received? Not sure it was the best piece of advice, but it surely had an impact on me. Once I met a professor who told me while I was his teaching assistant, “If your students hate you, then it means you are doing a good job; otherwise, you are fired.” I never really understood whether it was a joke or he was serious about it, but I firmly refused to follow that advice, and while working as TA in his class, I started looking around for another job as TA. You never know in life.
Did you have any teaching inspirations? I had the opportunity to sit for three graduate programs in my career as a student, so I have been through several teaching styles. However, I think the two main examples were Professor Giovanni Peri, who taught me advanced macroeconomics in very simple terms and using lots of intuition, and Professor Michael Plummer, from whom I learned how to engage with students during the class, use intuition and real-life examples to communicate, be passionate and knowledgeable but never create a distance between students and professor.
Best teaching/classroom moment of the past year? Every time I manage to explain concepts using funny examples and/or anecdotes to get everyone’s attention.
What have you learned from your students? That they will always be smarter and more passionate about my subject than me, and this is the best incentive I have to constantly improve my knowledge and insights.