A collection of quotes written by faculty and students about Maya and her teaching.
Excepts from Faculty Evaluation from Different Teaching Visitations:
“Instructor expertise was reflected both in lecture and her spontaneous explanations to student questions. Instructor demonstrated superior organization with regard to her student audience. Instructor made thorough use of technology of the lighting lab so that every concept was represented by the lighting equipment she had carefully set up, clearly indicating some hours of preparation. Excellent poise. Instructor moved smoothly through the lecture and interaction with students was seamlessly incorporated. Class appeared engaged, ready to answer questions and comfortable asking them. Maya has a sense of how much student can absorb at one time, and her lecture is filled with mini-reviews or questions to check and ensure that students are indeed understanding all they have heard. No observed weakness. I would not know what to change. I thought the class demonstrated real teaching skill, and superior rapport with students.”
~Elliot Wasserman, Professor and Chair of Performing Arts Department
"Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed observing Maya teach. By far one of the most interactive, energetic, and educational classes I have ever sat in on. Her teaching style is dialogic in nature, combining lecture and Q&A with students, that moved them through the course material in efficient, but fun way. Maya has an amazing rapport with the students. The ethos of the class is playful and creative. Students were engaged and enthusiastic, both in answering Maya's questions and asking questions."
~ Dr. Stephanie Young, Associate Professor of Communication Studies
"For an entire semester, I witnessed Ms. Fein’s effective classroom management, organizational techniques, and her abilities to communicate complexities and demonstrate applications of theories. She infuses her passion, persistence, and innovation into her teaching and mentorship of students. I think, more than ever, students need experiential- learning courses that require students to be flexible, learn to problem-solve in ever- evolving circumstances. Ms. Fein provided enormous and on-going emotional support to all the students. She checked in with them.She was humorous and enthusiastic, and gentle in her suggestions for improvement. To help students discover their own solutions, Ms. Fein asked them leading questions, demonstrated options, and directed students to resources. Ms. Fein’s presentations were thorough, creative, and engaging. Ms. Fein modeled for the students a great deal of adaptability, especially when we needed to find a new space and reconfigure the course. She provided ground and elevation plans and a 3D model of the theatre. She worked extra hours and beyond the call of duty to transform the theatre. The lighting was, as expected, fabulous! Judging by the turnout at the opening and the comments we received, Ms. Fein and I created a unique and impactful educational experience for all involved. Ms. Fein is a delightful colleague and an amazing artist of light. I value her enrichment of my own teaching and scholarship of engagement and her contributions to the established, collegial relationship between the Performing Arts and Art and Design Departments. She truly surpassed my expectations in the areas of teaching, scholarship of teaching, interactions with students, creativity, scholarly exchanges, problem-solving and collegiality.
~Dr. Hilary A. Braysmith, Professor of Art History. Co-professor on Planet Evansville Interactive Art Installation
"I found the class to be highly informative and students were engaged throughout and provided many moments that clearly demonstrated the level of instruction and learning they are receiving. She provided information clearly, stopping frequently to ask questions that referred back to previous lectures, to which the students always responded quickly and correctly. She provided hands on time...helping they to put into practice what she had instructed. She is very strong with using various kinds of instruction to appeal to the different types of learning that students might need. The ability of the students to participate intelligently in the discussions is proof of the instructor's ability to present material in a way that students can absorb and retain information. [She had a] clever way to introduce a concept that might be difficult for students to grasp in a way that provided them a physical example to use as a guide."
~Eric Altheide, Associate Professor of Theatre and Head of Acting
"Maya was knowledgeable and comfortable with the material being covered. She did a good job of making the material accessible for the students. The information was given in a logical sequence, building one idea off the previous only. I thought the examples she provided were apt and helped enhance her points. Maya had a positive attitude, a great deal of enthusiasm, and presented the material with energy. I thought Maya displayed a passion for the material and a great deal of class preparation. She did a good job of getting the students involved and making them feel like the material was within their grasp. Overall, I really enjoyed the class and her approach to covering the material. She did one or two things that I plan to steal - which I always think in an indication of a job well done."
~ M. Shan Jensen, Professor of Theatre and Head of Design
"I would rate the quality of this instructor as top-notch. Her delivery was terrific, her ability to engage the students was fantastic, and her enthusiasm for the material was obvious and infectious. There were a number of different approaches to the same information which solidified the information for the students. When students were stumped, she was able to lead them to the answers, referencing previous demonstrations. Her depth of knowledge was clear as was the knowledge of her students...evidenced through the oral quiz. She demonstrated concepts beautifully. Her use of appropriate vocabulary was impressive as was her fluidity in delivering the information. Within this limited time frame, Maya handled information thoroughly and never appeared rushed and never disregarded student questions. She made sure that everyone had a good view of the [demonstration] table and took the time to make sure everyone was safe around the equipment. Maya makes good eye contact, addresses every student by name, and her voice carries nicely in both the classroom and lighting studio. Maya did a nice job of drawing everybody into conversations. It was impressive to see so many students truly engaged. She is a very capable instructor who engages students with her clear mastery and her ability to disseminate the knowledge in a clear and concise manner."
~Alisa (AL) Holen, Associate Professor in Art and Design Department
"I am a part of the theatre department, and time and time again professor Maya Fein has proved to be one of the most passionate professors I have ever interacted with. She is a constant inspiration to me, and my peers I'm sure. She is a constant reminder that if you put your mind and energy towards something, it will be done. In her case, not only will it be done, it will result in the unity of an entire department. Maya is constantly working towards bringing us all together, in comrade and effort, to not only create beautiful art but an equally beautiful family. Her drive to constantly create an open and inviting atmosphere for her students cannot be matched. I feel like she is such an outstanding professor who is always working so hard, not only because it is her job but because she is so passionate about giving us students all of the education and inspiration she has to offer. She never ceases to bring forward new opportunities and life lessons for her students to grow from. I am so eternally grateful to Mrs. Fein, and because of this, I believe that her actions should not go unnoticed."
"Maya has been a mentor to me in many ways. Rather than just being someone who teaches me about light design, she's someone I can go to if I’m having a bad day. Having a woman light designer has made me feel more confident in my field, because seeing her succeed shows me that I can do that same thing in the future. She tries to challenge us when she knows that we can do better. She really makes us think about what’s the best way to design a show. I use to feel really anxious when she asked me to be a leader, but because of her confidence in me, I now can say that I am a leader who has confidence and knows what they are doing. She truly cares about her students, she makes sure that everyone is safe and comfortable in lab. Lighting and school can be very stressful, but at the end of the day I know I have people like Maya will be there for me and for any other student that may need help."
"I have had the privilege of studying under Maya Fein for the last three years. Throughout these years she has presented me with countless learning opportunities. She has also provided me with the knowledge and guidance that allowed me to design shows and Master Electrician for many shows at USI. This also led to me working as Master Electrician for a professional theater in Virginia during the 2018 summer. She always makes herself available to any questions I have had, making time in her very busy schedule to ensure that I understand every moment. She manages to cater to my skill set and level, ensuring I am always furthering my education and learning. She’s helped me establish my confidence and to grow as a leader, which has allowed me to be in charge light crews and teach many of student during labs. She’s provided me with the tools I need to succeed in life after graduation.
Over the last 3 years, I have also witnessed Maya grow tremendously as a professor at USI. Her first year was a rough transition as she was forced to learn to the space, students, and had to become a new cog in the machine of USI theatre. She adapted and continues to make every effort to make her classes better each year. She is constantly mentioning and implementing new ideas in her classes. She treats all her students individually, catering to each one of them, caring about each of them ensuring they get the education they deserve. Each year she pushes the boundaries of how much the students and department can grow. From forming a digital media lab to help promote shows to simpler things like matching t-shirts for labs, Maya’s constant drive to better herself and everything around her is her greatest strength."
Intro and Advance Lighting Design Courses:
Formative Assessment of Classroom Teaching includes bullet points responses to what Maya does to help student learning:
Teacher enthusiasm, good teacher/student communication, hands-on learning, round table discussions, opportunities for all students to talk, organized classes, utilization of the lighting lab.
Student Evaluation Feedback
"Maya actually cared about the students and that was noticeable by helping the students and answering questions they had. Class was fun and it was not like she was just getting paid to be there and talk for an hour or so, she actually wanted to be there and help students grow. "
"Maya is a wonderful, enthusiastic teacher. I admire her passion and excitement for lighting design. Maya does an excellent job explaining difficult topics in a way that introductory students can understand. Even though I am not interested in lighting design as a profession, I learned good information that I can apply to several other areas within the world of theater."
"One of the most enthusiastic teachers I've had the pleasure of learning from."
"I appreciate how much Maya is willing to work with her students outside of class to make sure they are taken care of and succeeding. Knowing that you can trust your professor and that they trust you increases the drive to do better, at least in my opinion."
"[Maya's] practiced lectures and demonstrations are very good. Just from attending those, a non-lighting individual can probably learn enough to be an effective lighting technician, given a little practice."
Lighting Laboratory Course:
Student Evaluation Feedback
“I am extremely thankful to have an instructor that truly cares about her students and their education. I am truly inspired by Maya Fein's dedication to the program and investment in her students. I have learned more in lighting lab this semester than I have in the past 4 semesters. Maya takes the time to explain and teach. Maya is approachable and I feel comfortable coming to her with questions. She pushes us to be the best version of ourselves in lab and as students. She has been an asset to the department and I hope to see her continue as the lighting director here in years to come.”
In reference to Maya, “I think that you are an absolutely wonderful human being and I have honestly learned so much because of you. I appreciate how much you care and how much effort you put in to each and every one of your students, it really shows your passion for teaching and lighting.”
“Maya was a great teacher who explained everything in a way that really helps one understand complex material in a simple way.”
"Maya's welcoming approach to teaching made things easier and more comfortable to grasp difficult task. If at any point I didn't understand something, she was always ready and willing to help."
"Absolutely loved this course and it’s instructor!"
"Spectacular learning experience."
Introduction to Theatre Online Course:
Student Evaluation Feedback (received anonymously):
“I believe everything is working well in this class. This class is very well planned out and the material is both understandable for people who are experienced in theatre as well as for people who are not experienced within theatre, like myself.”
"I believe the layout of the class is working very well. The time management for the class has been easy to understand and doable. I find the time limits on the test and quizzes to be just right. I also believe that the [discussion boards] are very beneficial as it makes me feel as if I am still taking a class and not independent learning."
"Maya seems to really care about her students and their grades, which I love. She makes it known to her students that she wants them to succeed. "
"I enjoy the variance in the types of study material. I often have troubles sitting down and straight-up reading the material, so the addition of videos and more interactive activities really help me understand the subject better."
“I really like the discussion boards and being able to communicate and understand how other classmates feel.”
"I really appreciate the clear outline of what is due each week. The Google Calendar as another calendar of due dates is super helpful. I wish my professors in my other online classes were as helpful with the calendar! I've had 5 online classes in my college career so far and this has been by far my favorite because of how clear the expectations and calendar are as well as the fun assignments that don't just feel like 'make-work.' "
"The diversity of assignments [works well]. This is the first time that I am doing a character arc and that I will go see a play to review it as a professional."
“I like the discussion boards. It helps to interact with the other students about the different plays.”
Responses from non-theatre majors that were asked how Maya’s Intro to Theatre course can apply to their lives.
“By taking this course I have learned that musicals are only a branch of theater and plays offer so much more than musicals do. There is so much art that goes into plays, and all this time I thought the art was in musicals. There is so much that can be learned from a good play. I have found that with every play we have read and watched I was able to discuss them with my boyfriend and do a lot of critical thinking and debate. It really does enrich my life, my knowledge of the world around me and my understanding of true art. I have found that I enjoy plays more than I ever expected to and have found myself purchasing tickets to plays for fun, not just for this class. I have found that when we take my kids to the plays they learn a lot from them as well. They were hesitant to go at first, but then found that they too enjoy the plays. This is a new family activity we will keep on our schedules going forward as it really allows for a lot of good family time and discussion.”
“I learned how many different periods of plays there have been, and how they were all effected by the social life and politics at the time. For example, during some centuries women were not allowed in plays, so men did all the acting rolls and wore masks. This was interesting to me. This can be applied to situations in life for all women, because we haven't always had the right to do things that men have and we should keep fighting for what we want.”
“I think an aspect of the theatre I can take with me is the empathy it promotes. We get to learn about the characters, their stories, hopes, sadness, etc. It’s natural to connect or even root for the character. By hearing other’s stories and their perspective, even fictional ones, I get to learn how to better understand and feel for other people. During the plays and musicals, I get to put myself in their shoes and imagine how they must feel in that situation. As a social worker, I’m going to be doing that every day with clients and patients. Empathy is one of the main values of the field. Through theatre, it ultimately gives me more opportunities to read about different perspectives and connect with their stories.”
“I have rarely seen someone who has such a gift for empathy in teaching. But Maya does not stop at using intuition and nothing more. She also strives to learn about her students' mindsets from polls, after-class discussions, and empowering learner contributions in class. She dedicates time to strategies of inquiry that point to what is needed in the moment and is constantly adapting based on what she finds. It is an amazing combination that leads to highly individualized and informed instruction.”
“Maya Michele Fein is one of those teachers who stands out in one's life and experience. I've encountered her as a teacher/master of tango, but I am quite sure that any subject she teaches would be brought to life in the same compelling way, and that her students, of any topic, would be very happy to have her as their guide and mentor. Although I was intimidated by even the thought of learning tango, my first encounter with Maya banished that. Maya is a force-of-nature. While she is breaking down the elements into approachable and do-able bits, and expecting the students to attend to learning, she is also so utterly clear, disarming, humorous and centered that if one looks around, one sees an array of smiles on students' faces, throughout even a long lesson. Her enthusiasm is completely contagious, while she is also exacting, and can hone in on the nuances and get students to improve with each interaction, intervention, adjustment or incremental addition to the dance. She is truly a gifted, natural, delightful, masterful teacher. I feel so happy that I get to learn from her, and be inspired in my own work to be as exuberant, passionate, clear, and utterly congruent as she exemplifies. If you are considering her for any position, don't let her slip through your fingers.”
"Informative; creative teaching methodology; and truly innovative per each pair of instructors."
"Excellent instruction, individual help and practice time, friendly community"
"I really like your approach to teaching tango. Your feedback is always super helpful"
"Very enthusiastic and motivated."
"Your sensitivity to the needs of the room - even as different as they can be - is really great."
"Clear explanations, targeted feedback, sense of fun, and chance to practice both in depth with one and to rotate with many"
"Loved the workshop. The instructors were patient and encouraging"
"Robert & Maya were perfect! I loved their enthusiasm, clear instruction, humor, history lesson, constructive advice, friendliness... but most of all, I LOVED dancing with them. They are superb! "