With the last week of Lent Term now upon us, I’ve been thinking a lot about my teaching experience this academic year. Like I’ve written in previous posts, this has been my first year teaching. Needless to say, it has not been ideal taking on this new endeavour during a global pandemic. Yet, there was nothing I could do about that, so I have had to make the most of it.
It’s been incredible how quickly this year has flown by. It honestly feels like September was only yesterday when it started. It’s strange because the last 12 months have both gone by incredibly slowly and much too fast. Sometimes it is hard to believe we’ve been fighting coronavirus for over a year now. Time feels like it has both stopped and continued its relentless pace. It boggles the mind, which makes it hard to believe I have my last class this week.
Teaching has been a very rewarding experience. When I was an undergraduate student, I always looked up to my professors and teachers. I always thought it would be very rewarding to be on the other side of the classroom and try to give back to students, especially since I felt like my professors gave me so much. Now that I’m in a position to do that, it has been my mission to make the classroom an open and inclusive place. I want to challenge my students, but also make them feel like they can take risks and speak their minds. I’m hoping I was able to create that type of environment this year.
Teaching this year would been even more difficult, if not impossible, if I didn’t have the privilege of teaching some wonderful students. My students have been a joy to work and learn with, and it has constantly been a highlight of my week to speak with and learn from them. They have consistently come to class ready to have some incredibly thought-provoking conversations, which makes my role so much more enjoyable. It’s been fantastic to have such a bright and diverse group of students this year.
No matter what form teaching takes next Autumn, I have learned some important lessons from this academic year that I will take forward. Teaching is an eye-opening experience that I think is important for all PhD students to have, so if you have the opportunity to do it, I would highly recommend it. They say you can’t truly understand someone until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes, and I think that’s very true. Teaching is no different, and doing it will make you a more humble, patient, and tenacious person. It’s an experience worth having, and I’m incredibly excited to do it again next year!