What was your reaction to winning the award?
“I definitely had no expectations that I would win this award and was thrilled to find out I did. I have been nominated in previous years but as this competition is University-wide I felt the odds of winning were very remote.” – Camden McKenna, winner of the Student Tutor of the Year Award
It was a huge shock to be shortlisted. There are so many supervisors in the University so it’s hard to pick just one. – Joe Zuntz, winner of the Supervisor of the Year award
“While I won Teacher of the Year in 2021 (such an honour and delight!) the specific award I won this year was Outstanding Commitment to Social Justice and Sustainability. Reading the students’ nominations made me feel incredible – not least because I think they are the ones making outstanding commitments to sustainability. I knew some students had nominated me (a few of them let me know after class or in emails), but I certainly didn’t expect to win. Thousands of nominations are made and I was incredibly impressed by the other teachers and groups nominated.” – Elizabeth Bomberg, winner of the Outstanding Commitment to Social Justice and Sustainability award
What makes a good teacher?
“I think you have to want to do it and have passion for the subject you teach. I firmly believe that any subject can be exciting with the right teacher or be boring as hell with a poor teacher (I call this the ‘Hogwarts principle’ after their dire history teacher, Professor Bins). The best teachers can also remember, or imagine, themselves as the students: think about what they do and do not currently understand, and how best to help them fill in the gaps. Paradoxically, the real scientific geniuses can sometimes not be the best teachers, because their understanding is so far ahead of everyone else, it’s hard for them to imagine the students’ perspective. I don’t have that particular problem!” – Richard Milne, winner of the Teacher of the Year (College of Science & Engineering) award
“Someone who engages and inspires students. The best teaching is more about inspiring than instructing. That involves conveying interest and fascination in the topic, but it also involves challenging students to think for themselves, enabling them to feel confident in their own ability to engage with difficult concepts, to figure stuff out on their own and with their peers.” – Elizabeth Bomberg, winner of the Outstanding Commitment to Social Justice and Sustainability award
“Often people cite a passion for the subject as critically important to good teaching. I do think that’s important too but that’s not what I remember most about my favourite teachers in the past. What I do remember is the presence of the teacher in the room and the way I felt in that room. It seems to me my best teachers not only brought slides or discussion questions but really brought some authentic part of themselves.” – Camden McKenna, winner of the Student Tutor of the Year award
Why do you think students should nominate their teachers for awards?
“One reason is the chance to bring incredible joy to another individual – in this case your teacher. However, I’d also want to remind students of something they tell us – feedback is critical to learning and improving, and positive feedback, i.e. what is working, what should we continue doing, is especially effective. In short, nominating someone for these awards is a superb form of positive feedback.” – Elizabeth Bomberg, winner of the Outstanding Commitment to Social Justice and Sustainability award
I see how happy staff are to be nominated, even once. Nominating a staff member for a teaching style that you liked encourages them to do it more. – Richard Milne winner of Teacher of the Year (College of Science & Engineering)
“Students should nominate their teachers to give them their vote of confidence and encourage them to keep doing what students think is working. For early career teachers, like tutors, teaching fellows, post-docs, etc, that vote of confidence might even encourage them to persist in teaching at University level in spite of the precariousness of their employment status. Essentially, I think students should vote for what they want more of, and hopefully that will translate into getting it.” – Camden McKenna winner of the Student Tutor of the Year award
“It is very hard to know as a teacher if you’re doing the right thing so it’s really nice to know you’re making a difference to students.” – Joe Zuntz, winner of the Supervisor of the Year award
Congratulations to all this year’s winners.