MOSCOW, Idaho – “It’s a tremendous honor as a junior faculty to be recognized for my teaching,” Angelique EagleWoman said after receiving the William F. and Joan L. Boyd Excellence in Teaching Award at the University of Idaho College of Law. Mr. Boyd is an alumnus of the college, his wife a retired teacher, and both are proponents of the importance of effective teaching as a mark of faculty excellence.
This fellowship was initiated in the spring of 2005. Its intention is to “recognize and reward faculty who demonstrate exceptional teaching effectiveness, a deep commitment to student learning and professional growth, and an interest in creative and innovative teaching methods.” It also is based primarily on faculty activity reports, memorandum on teaching, class visits, student evaluations and other information on teaching performance.
EagleWoman, a member of the Sisseton-Wahpeton Dakota Oyate of the Lake Traverse Reservation, talked of her philosophy of teaching and the two things she looks at in her classes. “One is I believe strongly in providing historical context for what I teach. In Native American law you have to know the errors of U.S. Indian policy to be able to understand the various acts of congress that impact tribal nations.
“The other thing I want to stress in my classes is ethics. I believe above all the legal profession is an honorable profession and that as legal practitioners we must always be guided by the best interests of our client as well as our values and obligations to uphold the standards of the legal profession. I’m a strong supporter of professional ethics and responsibility.”
She uses a lot of technology in the classroom. “I think we’re dealing with a generation of kids that are very tech savvy. I have online course pages. I post a lot of materials online. I do a lot of PowerPoint presentations. I also believe we have different learning styles so I want to be able to hit auditory learning. I want to be able to hit visual learning and I want to be able to reach standard note takers who do well with lecture style.”
She talks of another system she uses that may not be high tech but it’s certainly innovative. “In my large classroom for first-years I teach civil procedure. I have a rather unique random method of calling on students. I have their names on wooden chips that are in a red bag and randomly select a chip to call on students. That adds an air of anticipation that in any class for any subject they may be called upon and hopefully that adds to greater preparation for my classes.
“Some students love it and others aren’t too thrilled with it but I enjoy it and I think that as advocates for others you have to put in the time to adequately represent the interests of your client and thorough preparation leads to confidence. I want my students to feel confident in court rooms, in law offices, wherever they are. This is our training ground. That’s the method behind my madness.”
Dean of the Law School, Donald Burnett, said EagleWoman joined the University of Idaho law faculty in the fall of 2008. “She brought to her academic appointment a wealth of expertise in Native American law” in relating her previous experience on the Lake Traverse Reservation, with a private law firm in Washington, D.C. engaged in Native American law, with the Kaw Nation and Ponca Nation both in Oklahoma, and with academic experience at Hamline University School of Law and University of Kansas School of Law.
Burnett said EagleWoman’s depth of knowledge has been described by students as “thorough and amazing,” inducing “admiration and awe.” He said her Native American Natural Resources seminar has been described as “fantastic.” “She has richly earned the William F. and Joan L. Boyd Excellence in Teaching Award.”
EagleWoman summarized her reaction to the award. “As a law professor there are three components to what we do. One is teaching. One is scholarship. The third is community service. I spent a lot of time on community outreach and community service and also scholarship. For the law school to recognize my teaching as well is a tremendous honor.”