#CelebratingTogether: Dr Tony Gilbert

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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. 

 

Tony Gilbert
Dr Tony Gilbert

What is your full name? 

Tony Gilbert 

What is your job title? 

Casual tutor (former Senior Lecturer) 

What school or service do you work in? 

School of Mathematics 

 

Please tell us a little bit about yourself and your role. 

I retired from the School of Maths almost 10 years ago after 37 years in post. When in full-time employment, while I did some research, I enjoyed the teaching and pastoral aspects of the job much more. This has not changed with retirement, and it has been my pleasure and privilege to be able to continue tutoring on a casual basis for the School of Maths ever since.  I like to think that both my tutees and I benefit from this arrangement: for the students, I bring long experience (and hopefully, still a bit of passion); while for me, it keeps me engaged with younger generations, and gives a real purpose to life. I hope to be able to continue in this capacity for a good few more years yet. 

 

What does it mean to you to have been nominated for a Teaching Award this year? 

A great deal. I always loved the cut and thrust of classroom teaching… and it is enormously gratifying to feel that it is appreciated by some of those with whom I have come into contact. 

 

What’s your favourite part of your role and working with students? 

My favourite part is simply the close contact with the students. But also, I think it is true to say that while Maths is not for everyone, for those who have sympathy for the subject, it is full of wonderful things… and it is gratifying and exciting for me to discuss these matters with my tutees. 

 

How have you adapted your approach to teaching and supporting students under the Hybrid Model this year? 

Being in a vulnerable age group, I asked only to do online tutoring. In consequence most of my tutees were Chinese. I kept as best as I could to my customary style, and I think this broadly went down well, and with just a few students, it seemed to work really well, but I was fully aware that with many students, the interaction was simply not as effective as when working face to face. 

 

What’s been the biggest challenge in your role this year? 

It saddened me that despite repeated gentle requests for students to have cameras and mikes on so that we could have a channel-wide discussion, most of my tutees preferred not to do so; this was something I simply had to accept, and it appears that this was also the experience of all my fellow tutors. Fortunately there were a small number of students who would keep their cameras and mikes on, and I felt hugely indebted to them, as they largely kept the tutorials actively rolling on. Inevitably they got a larger share of my attention, but I was careful to make a point of repeatedly inviting queries from everyone in the tutorial group, and also ‘visiting’ each student individually to ask if they had any queries (mostly declined by those with mikes and cameras off, which was a bit dispiriting, because my experience from face to face tutoring was that if I had been able to see the work they were doing, there would be, as often as not, something useful I could tell them). 

 

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? 

Firstly I would say an enormous ‘thank you’ because it is hugely gratifying for someone who cares about their impact on the students who pass through their hands. And I would also like to say that I am pleased because I think we should always express our appreciation to someone who has done something positive for us; it probably will bring pleasure to the person concerned and it makes clear that their efforts have not gone unrecognised. 

To find out more about the Teaching Awards and browse nomination categories, please visit the Students’ Association’s website. 

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