Edinburgh University Students’ Association’s Student-Led Teaching Awards are back to recognise outstanding members of learning and support staff. After a challenging year for everyone, we’re celebrating our worthy nominees by shouting about their successes across our digital platforms.
What is your full name?
What is your job title?
Lecturer in Greek History and Culture
What school or service do you work in?
History, Classics and Archaeology
Please tell us a little bit about yourself and your role.
I’ve worked at the University of Edinburgh from 2013-2016 (on two postdoctoral fellowships, both of which involved teaching) and 2018-today (on a permanent lecturing post). My current job is a research and teaching post, and for the past three years I have been the organiser of a big survey course for pre-honours students (‘Greek World 1A’) which I teach as part of a team of colleagues. I also help out a bit with Greek language teaching. At honours level, I teach several courses on aspects of Ancient Greek social and economic history: one on Sparta and Crete (designed to get students away from Athens for a bit), another on Greek slavery, and a third on the economy of the Greek city-states. I’m in the process of introducing a fourth course on a topic close to my heart, on seafaring and society in the Greek world. Beyond this, I’m deputy academic conduct officer for HCA, which sounded a bit sinister to me when I took it on, but actually for the most part involves meeting with students who are having difficulties and advising them on how to improve their research techniques and presentation.
What does it mean to you to have been nominated for a Teaching Award this year?
I really touched my the remarks of the student who nominated me, which are really more valuable than an award. It’s quite difficult for me to tell whether I’m getting things right or not (though mid-semester and end-of-semester feedback exercises are very useful), and the process of tinkering with my course content and delivery style is an endless process; but this vote of confidence is very much appreciated.
What’s your favourite part of your role and working with students?
I remember distinctly as an undergraduate at Durham when my professor, who was a world-class expert and on the point of retirement, dedicated a book to his students, from whom – he said – he’d learned a lot. I was a bit cynical at the time – what on earth could the likes of me teach the likes of him? But now I understand what he meant: students ask all sorts of questions, and many of these questions just haven’t occurred to us before. If we don’t know the answer, we scurry off to our books to find one. Decades of having that regular prod to find out something he didn’t previously know and to relay the answer on to his students had given my professor an enormous knowledge of his subject. So beyond the fun of communicating knowledge, I find that teaching creates a really useful opportunity for me to find out more about my topic.
How have you adapted your approach to teaching and supporting students under the Hybrid Model this year?
Prior to this year, I mostly focused on texts and paid less attention to archaeology and visual sources. For in-person teaching, that worked fairly well. Being forced to convert my teaching to online lessons gave me the opportunity to incorporate a great deal of archaeology, iconography, maps, etc., which is something I’m going to keep for the future. The most fun I had was explaining inheritance systems in an ancient Cretan city using slides of a Lego family with lots of arrows – this prod to embrace technological opportunities allowed me to realise this (quite nerdy) dream…
What’s been the biggest challenge in your role this year?
The biggest challenge has been technical, as I’m quite rubbish at technology and had a lot to learn. The process was painful, but useful.
What would you say to the student(s) who nominated you, or students who are considering submitting a nomination for a staff member who has had an impact on them?
Thanks very much, I really appreciate your kind words and going to the trouble of submitting this nomination – and good luck with your studies! Also, if you’re in third year – and if HCA lets me teach my proposed seafaring course next year – make sure you sign up to it. I promise pirates.
To find out more about the Teaching Awards and browse nomination categories, please visit the Students’ Association’s website.