- University of Minnesota Law School (2014-2016) (Criminal Procedure)
- Appalachian State University (2011-2014) (Introduction to Criminal Justice, Criminal Procedure, Criminal Law, The Judicial Process, Moot Court (honors), The Constitution (honors))
- University of South Carolina (2008-2011) (The American Criminal Justice System, Criminal Courts)
- Charleston Southern University (2006-2008) (Constitutional Law I, Constitutional Law II, Criminal Investigations, Criminal Procedure, Theories of Crime and Justice)
My teaching approach varies depending on the course and context, but my teaching philosophy is simple: be the master of your subject and be a passionate communicator of your subject. A sage Provost told me just before I began my first teaching job that there was no substitute for mastering your subject. Over the years I’ve come to believe that deeply. Issues like technology in the classroom, techniques for active learning and critical thinking, and clear course objectives are all important to me but the fundamental first principle of teaching is mastery of the subject.
For me, a second core principle for great teaching is a passion for the subject and for student learning. I’ve found the more I convey to students that a subject matters and that I care whether they’re learning it, the more likely they are to engage in the course. Fortunately there are a lot of things to care about within the subjects of courts, law, punishment, and policing where government policy and individual decision-making have such a tremendous impact on people’s lives.
Apart from being an enthusiastic master of a subject, I generally focus on two types of goals for a class. First, teaching a subject typically involves relaying the core concepts, ideas, theories, and facts related to that subject: the student should become the master of the subject too. Second, beyond the mere (but essential) learning of facts and concepts, a course should advance critical thinking and active learning skills. If I had to choose one goal for each student it would be that they came out of one of my courses as a better critical thinker and problem solver. In my view, this is among the greatest achievements of higher education.
I’ve been fortunate to receive exceptional feedback on my teaching–both from peer reviews and from student evaluations. A recent example is from my Spring 2016 Criminal Procedure student evaluations from the University of Minnesota Law School, a Top 20 law school with an impressive faculty of remarkable teachers. I was grateful to receive scores above the faculty averages for all measures. The chart below provides a few representative examples:
Here are some of the comments from those evaluations:
… He was really engaging, interesting, clear, and gave really helpful lectures.
I enjoyed his teaching style, clearly knows the material, and is such an effective professor. You rock professor Hester!
Best professor I’ve had in law school.
Prof. Hester is one of the most engaging professors I’ve had. He is hilarious all class long. …probably the best user of technology I’ve had as a professor….
…Seems to have a genuine desire to work with all students and help them do well.
Loved the class and I hate criminal law so thank you.
One of the funniest professors I’ve ever had….
I really think that Professor Hester is one of the best professors I’ve had at the law school – phenomenal teacher.
….He is incredibly intelligent, thoughtful, smart, and well spoken. Professor Hester deserves tenure and at the minimum at least a significant raise.
Hester’s a boss.
…Thank you for talking to us like we’re actually young adults rather than trying to babysit us. I also sincerely appreciate the fact that you come across like you really care whether or not we’re learning the material….
Tied for best Professor that I’ve had at UM Law
Professor Hester is the man. You all need a new professor to be most popular around here now that [name edited out] split and Hester can fill that role….You all should offer him a job as a regular faculty member. Seriously, offer him a job….
Brilliant interactions and discussion.
One of the most interesting/best professors I’ve had in law school. Not only is he an engaging speaker, but he also knows the topic very well and is clearly passionate about this area of the law. Overall, great class.
This was by far my favorite class of the semester, and maybe of law school. Thank you for making it so interesting.