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?
What school or service do you work in?
School of History, Classics and Archaeology
Please tell us a little bit about yourself and your role.
This is my first year, both at the University of Edinburgh and as a tutor. Currently I’ve been tutoring the course of Roman World (1A and 1B), and Greek (elementary). I’m really happy about these courses, since they give my the possibility to keep on with my interests, and interacting witht the students. As a tutor, I am supposed to propose some discussion topics during our meetings, and to help students in recovering the difficulties they may have with the subject. By the way, the most interesting part is undoubtedly the discussion moment, in which I can directly interact with the class.
What does it mean to you to have been nominated for a Teaching Award this year?
This nomination comes totally unexpected, but I’m really excited about it. I did all my studies in Italy, and there we do not have tutors (and actually no one cares a lot about students and the problems they can have during their degree). This means a lot for me, because I myself have experienced these sort of difficulties, and now I’m happy to be able to help my students in overpassing them and improving themselves. After reading the lovely feedbacks left by my students, I do not care much about winning the prize. For me this is already the best award I could have ever achieved.
What’s your favourite part of your role and working with students?
I know it is predictable, but having the possibility of interacting with them is of course the best part of my job. As I said, I come from a different background, and for me it’s amazing seeing how brilliant students are, and how they perceive and imagine the ancient world (what I’m tutoring). Especially by marking their assessments, I came across a wide range of new perspective from which considering a topic which I supposed I knew well.
How have you adapted your approach to teaching and supporting students under the Hybrid Model this year?
Luckily I have been able to do my activities both in presence and online. During the in-person tutorials I noticed that students were a bit blocked in interacting freely by the fear of the virus and the restrictions. On the contrary, they have used a lot the chat to comment upon the lesson and also to talk among themselves. I for myself am not a formal person, so it has been quite easy to do more “informal” tutorial during the second semester, when everything was online. I’ve never been afraid to show my students my fails when I was on the other side, and I’ve been the first to promote funny jokes about the Greeks and the Romans (our subjects). I think this attitude has been helpful in making them relax during our classes, not being afraid to ask for extra explanations or to show their doubts. Talking about the material, I’m a fan of visual presentation with just few keywords, which I used both in presence and online; this is the best way for me to make students remember about the discussion topic, and also to help them expressing their opinions.
What’s been the biggest challenge in your role this year?
The biggest challenge has been trying to build a strong sense of community among the students, in order to make them feel being part of something. Most of them have never come to Edinburgh, and have experienced all sort of problems. I’ve tried to show them my “human” side, to create a productive environment in which learning together (and also breaking the sameness of the tutorials with jokes – just to mention, we are planning to open a YouTube channel making ASMR video by reading ancient Greek texts).
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?
Of course a very big, big (but really big!!!!) thanks! They literally made me cry (which is not so difficult, since I’m a really sensitive person). As I’ve already said, this nomination was totally unexpected. But anyway, I do not feel I did something extraordinary; I’m always happy to help my students, especially when they are in troubles, no matter if I have to spend more time on my computer. I would have done exactly the same even without this nomination, and I’ll go on in this way even if I won’t win the award.
To find out more about the Teaching Awards and browse nomination categories, please visit the Students’ Association’s website.