Janet Hegman Shier
Below (top to bottom) recent photos of my students... theater movement workshop, improvisation workshop, overlooking a medieval city from a fortress, RC Deutsches Theater performance, alpine hike, group reflection (in Munich), classic 1940's bicycle tour of Munich, journaling in "Blue Rider" countryside of Germany, Kandinsky/Münter Haus in Murnau

I studied German and Russian in graduate school and I have lived in Germany and in Croatia. I teach intensive German and contemporary German Theater at the U-M Residential College where I serve as the RC German program director. I'm also an academic advisor in the Residential College. I love my teaching and advising work, as well as, the creative work I've been able to do through RC Deutsches Theater (since 1985!). If you explore this site, you can learn lots more about the program, Deutsches Theater and RC Deutsches Theater trips to Germany.

My teaching motto is: "Take something new into the classroom every day and get students out of their seats." (This greatly improves students' likelihood of learning!) As a long-time advocate of Howard Gardner's multiple intelligences theory, I integrate the arts into my teaching. I am interested in the connection between tapping into (lost) creativity and learning something new. The very skills that we use when problem-solving are those used in creating something new or learning a new language. As adults, though, we often fear taking risks. I actually credit some bad experiences as a learner, myself, to my own deep caring for my students' learning. You can learn a little more about my personal investment in discovering the link between creativity and language learning and my belief in assessing by evaluation over using letter grades by reading an article I wrote for the RC Newsletter.

If you explore my web site, you'll see students doing a lot of different activities, using the German they acquire in our program. I've been an academic advisor in the RC for many years and I know from that experience, as well, that students embrace the opportunity to approach academic learning from multiple perspectives. It is important to help students make connections that will help them learn, whether that is guiding them through new material or contacting an expert here or abroad who can mentor them.

Students in my German language and German Theater classes make visits to art galleries, listen to German music, and do performance activities, imaginative writing assignments and arts projects related to reading assignments as part of their required coursework. A top priority for me is to get students abroad and I work hard to get students funding to go abroad. Our students have received numerous scholarships that allowed them to study abroad in Germany for a semester or a year, and I've led several university-subsidized trips to Germany over Spring Breaks or in the Summer to expose students to theater and the arts in Germany. (Again, see other pages on my website.) For the past 10 years, every student the RC has nominated to the Munich Summer Fellows Program has been selected and received funding to participate in that exciting program.

In May, 2004, 11 undergraduates accompanied me on a 3-week GIEU arts and identity trip to Munich. More recently (Summer 2006, Summer 2009, Summer 2010), my students in Cultures in Dialogue:Crossing External and Internal Borders, a course focused on identity issues, traveled with me to Berlin. We studied about Muslims and Jews living in Germany today and examined issues of "self" and "othering the self" with an emphasis on the arts and autobiographic representation. You can check out our blogs from the last two trips. With new funding from CGIS, I'll lead a group of students to Munich in May 2012. Students interested in this trip need to contact us by Nov. 15, 2011 thru MCompass ; only 12 students will make the trip, so get your application in soon if you are interested! There are scholarships and fundraising opportunities that should make this program affordable to students who establish financial need.

In addition to teaching German, I sometimes team-teach a performance course on women's health awareness (in English),and I sponsor theater-related student projects, such as the Honors/RC collaborative course on: Beyond the Stigma: Israel, Palestine, USA through the Arts (taught by artists in Fall 2004). I also offer an interdisciplinary First Year Seminar (in Engish), entitled: The Self, the Other, and the Self as Other in Text, Image, and Performance. In Sept. 2006, in connection with my seminar, we sponsored 11 Artists-in-Residence program, by inviting Element 3--a group of documentary film makers, hip hop musicians and break-dancers, to spend 9 days in residence. Explore my website to learn about their amazing visit. They packed the RC Auditorium with over 260 people to see the 30 minute documentary, Zwischen Rap und Ramadan (Between Rap and Ramadan), a live hip hop performance with European champion break dancers and musicians, and a post performance discussion.

One of my favorite courses to teach--even after many years of teaching--is an intensive beginning German course which is offered to true beginners of the language, meaning the students never studied German in school. It is an amazing experience for students and faculty, alike, to experience the fast-paced and fun learning that goes on in that course. Students in that course are speaking German and functioning in class using only German within five weeks. I've even taken several of them to Germany over Spring Break and they did great after just 5-6 weeks of German! We are particularly proud of the popularity of that course year after year, because it shows that Americans have respect for learning a new language and RC students, in particular, embrace the challenge of trying a new language. We understand what it means to take a risk to learn and we work closely with students to help them learn, regardless of their level when they begin the program. One student in German I summed up the experience: "These teachers could teach a stone to speak German." (I don't know if I'd go so far, but I'm sure some people who know me think I would!)

My hobbies are reading, traveling, hiking, swimming, weight-training, book-binding, photography, and anything related to theater and the arts. I also love studying gorillas (In the picture at the top of the page, that's me on the left with Malaika at the Toledo Zoo.)

Thank you for visiting my web page. I hope that you will send me a message if you would like to know more about the RC German Program or the RC German Program's own theater company, RC "Deutsches Theater", even if you are just beginning to get interested in German language and culture.

RC German students' articles for the RC Newsletter, Fall 2004