Thursday, July 18, 2019

Know Your Profs: Camosun’s Alena Chercover takes offense over plagiarism and gendered children’s clothing

July 10, 2019 by Katy Weicker, staff writer

Know Your Profs is an ongoing series of profiles on the instructors at Camosun College. Every issue we ask a different instructor at Camosun the same 10 questions in an attempt to get to know them a little better.

Do you have an instructor who you want to see interviewed in the paper? Maybe you want to know more about one of your teachers, but you’re too busy, or shy, to ask? Email and we’ll add your instructor to our list of teachers to talk to.

This issue we talked to Camosun English instructor Alena Chercover about her sweet tooth, lack of free time, and optimism for the future of education.

1. What do you teach and how long have you been at Camosun?

I’ve been at Camosun since 2012, and I teach both technical writing and academic writing. My schedule typically includes some combination of ENGL 151, ENGL 170, and ENGL 273 courses.

Camosun College English instructor Alena Chercover (photo by Adam Marsh/Nexus).

2. What do you personally get out of teaching?

This is a hard question because there is so much to say. I love learning new things from and with my students; I love getting to know students and then seeing them succeed; I love collaborating with wonderful colleagues both in English and across disciplines; and I love being part of the unique communities that develop in each class section throughout the term.

3. What’s one thing you wish your students knew about you?

This is a wonderful career, but the workload outside the classroom is very heavy. Marking, in particular, takes a lot of time (including evenings and weekends), and feeling invested in students’ success and well-being means that it’s often hard to put down the mental load even when the work day is done.

4. What’s one thing you wish they didn’t know about you?

I’m terrible with names. I work very hard to learn all my students’ names in the first couple weeks of class, but I often forget names when the term is over. That said, I don’t forget the students. Even when their names escape me, I remember things they said in class, what they wrote about in their research papers, why they came to Camosun… Still, it’s embarrassing to forget names.

5. What’s the best thing that’s happened to you as a teacher here?

I’ve taught some students at the very beginning, middle, and end of their programs. It’s amazing to see how much those students learn and change. It’s also amazing to run into former students around the city and to learn about their families, careers, and other accomplishments since Camosun. I think this is probably a regular occurrence for veteran teachers, but it’s still quite new and exciting for me.

6. What’s the worst thing that’s happened to you as a teacher here?

Discovering plagiarism in a student’s work is probably one of the worst things. It’s not really uncommon, but it still feels horrible every time.

7. What do you see in the future of post-secondary education?

At the moment, I’m optimistic. I love the ways in which post-secondary education is increasingly intercultural, Indigenized, and interdisciplinary.

8. What do you do to relax on the weekends?

I have two kids under five. I don’t really relax on weekends. I do have fun with them, though, and cuddling up with those kids and pile of beautiful children’s books is pretty close to perfect.

9. What is your favourite meal?

I love restaurant breakfasts, especially sweet breakfasts like waffles or crepes.

10. What’s your biggest pet peeve?

I don’t think I have many pet peeves, but one thing that’s frustrated me lately is children’s clothing. Clothing for four-year-olds is entirely gendered—shirts designed for boys are mostly blue or grey and feature trucks, superheroes, or predatory animals. Meanwhile, shirts designed for girls, while more colourful, are often form-fitting and lacking in active, powerful images. All four-year-olds should have access to a bright purple T-shirt with a sequined digger on the front.

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