My employment began here sixteen years ago after I completed my undergraduate qualifications in micro-biology and embarked on PhD studies. From the outset I began on a short term contract and I am still employed on this basis. The shortest notice I received to pick up a unit was four days and the maximum number of units I have coordinated in one year is seven. Fortunately I have an interest in teaching, enjoy my work and feel valued by my supervising colleague.
When I first began teaching I received little guidance so had to find out how to do things for myself. For example, the only information I received for the first unit I taught was the unit title. I knew I needed to rewrite the lectures so simply settled down and wrote them. In my early teaching days I became familiar with policy and procedures through trial and error. The most serious situation I found myself in centred on not knowing I needed to write a semester exam until the day before it was due. I solved the problem by writing the exam overnight.
When beginning a new unit I am excited by the challenge of working with previously unseen material so use the textbook to select what looks interesting and important. I work to make my units valuable learning experiences for undergraduate and post graduate students. Despite the effort it takes to organise well, I like to use excursions to interest students in my teaching units, and earlier this year I received a competitive teaching and learning citation for my work.
Because my employment remains on a casual basis I have taken some risks, such as establishing an anonymous online discussion board to open up discussion on controversial issues. I support students to focus on evidence and remove emotion from their argument. I encourage students to develop critical thinking and to look at all the evidence to obtain a balanced view of an issue. By adopting an ethical and trusting approach towards my students they invariably respond in a mature manner.
While there has been little time for me to engage in research I have co-written collaborative research reports. Currently I also manage a graduate attribute project designed to map graduate attributes and then eliminate the overlaps in our teaching and learning program.