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 Divinity
Please tell us a little bit about yourself and your role.
I’m currently in the second year of my PhD in World Christianity. My research explores changing practices of Christian mission and this was my second tutorial class.
What does it mean to you to have been nominated for a Teaching Award this year?
I have loved leading these tutorials. The students were so perceptive, confident and curious, it’s been amazing to journey alongside them through such a great course. Being online, I tried to mix the contents of the tutorials between close text reading, broader discussions and one week even asked the students to do some acting, to keep each week fresh and interesting. Between the course manager and tutors we tried to emphasize that we wanted this course to inspire the students to read and research more and encourage creative thought and approaches. I hope some of these flexibilities and energy can keep being integrated into future teaching. I’m really glad the students enjoyed the online tutorials, I do not envy them being undergraduates throughout this pandemic and it feels amazing that I’ve helped their university experience be a little more positive.
What’s your favourite part of your role and working with students?
I really enjoy hearing their perceptions about the tutorial texts. Religion, Violence and Peace building is such a relevant course and igniting discussions around these important themes is really fulfilling. One week especially felt great where I asked their confidence levels about the topic from a scale of 1-10 and they averaged the score of 3 explaining that they found the topic difficult and complex. After the tutorial they were genuinely enthusiastic to find out more themselves, asked me for a reading list and a few even chose it for their essays.
How have you adapted your approach to teaching and supporting students under the Hybrid Model this year?
I’ve tried to be flexible and encourage discussion as far as possible. I’ve used break out rooms, had a role play week, encouraged very close reading in a few more difficult weeks, and invited a prominent lecturer in the field who I happen to know to join one week for a Q&A. I also think being present at the beginning and asking the students how they’re doing and how they found the materials for that week to facilitate conversation has worked well. I’ve also tried to he as approachable and honest as I can, pointing out where I’ve struggled, what I found difficult and what I’ve learned. I think this has helped them open up on a platform that is unusual.
What’s been the biggest challenge in your role this year?
I think the lack of schedule has impacted everyone. It’s also been pretty hard to concentrate on anything for long periods of time. Every week I felt a little refreshed and energized after the tutorials. It’s been good to have this alongside my main PhD work.
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?
It really means a lot, especially for PhD students. We often feel overwhelmed, suffer with impostor syndrome and struggle like you. To hear I’ve helped you enjoy the module and university means a lot- I just want you to be inspired like I have during university. I had a few really supportive lecturers during my undergraduate that really stretched me and helped me believe in myself. Working for a university can be a perilous experience so student feedback like this makes it worthwhile!
To find out more about the Teaching Awards and browse nomination categories, please visit the Students’ Association’s website.