My university career of sixteen years followed several years of secondary teaching. The fourth year students remain my favourites, though I am happy to teach at all tertiary levels. Each semester I focus on getting to know my students as quickly as possible. This is often with the assistance of individual student photos, that my students know I refer to as a ‘rogue’s gallery’. I make sure my students see me as friendly, do not place myself on a pedestal and that I give a little of myself. In developing a comfortable rapport with my students I believe student learning is enhanced.
In my teaching role I like to be organised, keep accurate, current records while also working on relationship building with students and my colleagues. Students know I am willing to help them complete their pre-service teaching studies and I often visit them on their school practicum as their university supervisor. I show students how I prioritise my responsibilities and duties so that I am organised and professional. I want to be considered a strong role model for my students. Much of my time spent with university colleagues is also centred on relationship building and supporting each other. Sometimes it helps me to talk with others after a tough day and I usually discuss troubling issues with our Head of School or other colleagues. Other times I write poetry or watch television to relax and to avoid becoming drained and exhausted.
At the university level there are several layers of support for staff and students. When a student in tears and feeling suicidal, contacted me I was uncertain about what to do. I walked her across campus to a counsellor then told the Head of School what had happened. Afterwards I obtained the student’s contact details so I could follow up and be sure she was okay. On instinct I followed university policy so was pleased I acted appropriately. Now I know more about the university health and counselling services and the drop in centres available here. I may enrol in a counselling course myself to be better informed in future.
I enjoy my work here and believe strongly that good teaching is valuable and necessary in the university context. Sometimes other lecturers overlook adopting a flexible approach in their teaching and rely solely on presenting information to students during lectures. While it would help me to know more about university budgets and non-people centred elements of university life, my most effective strategy is to remember that improving student learning is my purpose here.