June 10, 2013, by Teaching at Nottingham
Teaching for Me
Prof. Sue Pryce: “ ‘The secret of success is constancy to purpose’ (Disraeli). Mrs Ringer, a teacher of English language wrote this on the board, on the first day I attended a GCE ‘O’ Level course at Poole College of Further Education. It proved to be inspirational for someone who had left school at 15 with no qualifications at all. It coincidentally linked politics and teaching which shaped much of my life since. It also underlined the importance of teachers. They help students to access knowledge and enhance their skills but can also by their encouragement and example, be inspirational.
“I am writing this having just been told that I have been promoted to professor on the Teaching and Learning track. It is difficult to express the pride I feel and the sense of personal achievement. But it is also a clear signal that the University values and rewards teaching. I hope this will encourage and inspire others.
“How did I achieve this? I can’t claim to have had a plan or blueprint. It has been more a case of interest and attitude. I am always positive and I’m happy to put my hand up for new challenges.
“I am lucky enough too be in my dream job, being a teacher at this University. From 1970-73 I studied here for a degree in the Department of Politics. I loved the course, the campus, the friendly interaction between staff and students. I had a fantastic time. To teach here became my ambition. Lack of funds and the logistics of being a wife in the armed services made undertaking doctoral research untenable. After a variety of teaching posts, raising a family and moving around the country we returned to this area in the 1980s. I took the opportunity to return to my studies part-time and gained an MA and a PhD here. In the last year of my PhD (1994-5) I undertook tutorial teaching in the School and have remained here ever since, my status changing from part-time tutorial assistant to temporary full-time teacher, to permanent university teacher, associate professor and (as of 1 August) professor.
“Realizing my ambition has been partly due my own effort and determination but it has also been due to the inspiration, support and confidence I gained from those who taught and advised me. I have tried to inspire students in a similar manner. I’m always open to new ideas and use SETs, SEMs, comments from peer reviewers and observations of others, to reflect on my own teaching. I experiment with new techniques and adapt to new technologies.
“My teaching philosophy is to try to excite and inspire the love of learning in students. Politics is fascinating and relevant. I try to convey my own enthusiasm for study, and in particular for learning about politics, by making ideas and concepts accessible, by challenging accepted beliefs and encouraging students to think critically. I help them to make links between theoretical perspectives and examples drawn from their own experience. The rapid increase in both the diversity and number of our students has provided new opportunities. It has made me think about how to integrate students from different cultures and different backgrounds and to enable them to participate in class. I want students to find me approachable and accessible. I like to help them to develop a ‘can do’ approach to both their studies and life in general.
“I am committed not only to doing my best for the students I teach, but also to contribute in various ways to School, Faculty and University activities designed to promote teaching excellence. For 12 years I convened a Teaching Development Seminar. This forum provided a combination of staff development and mutual support for part-time teachers in the School. It recognized the importance of their contribution; it promoted learning through peer discussion and inducted them into the procedures and good practice in the School.
“A grant from the Centre for Integrated Learning allowed me to undertake work across the faculty of Social Science to promote a conversation about teaching and learning. This included organizing some of the following events: getting smart with smart boards; getting students to participate; assessment and feedback; what can we learn from internationalization?
“I also undertake a variety of work for the Professional Development team, including assisting with the PGCHE in the following ways: video facilitating; observing teaching; assessing portfolios; delivering workshops on classroom management. Watching other people teach has been a constant source of inspiration. This work has provided a valuable opportunity to observe the styles and methods used by new teachers across all the university’s disciplines.
“My role as University Senior Tutor has enabled me to lead the Grand Tutoring Challenge designed to improve the quality of student support across all our campuses. It has given me an opportunity to get to know many colleagues here and in Malaysia and China. I visited our overseas campuses in the autumn. I recommended everyone to visit them if you get an opportunity, the journey is long but it is well worth it.
“For me, teaching is about excitement, enthusiasm, energy . . . and of course preparation. Teaching is being lucky enough to do a job I love and now also to receive recognition and reward in the form of promotion to professor.
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