JCU Sessional Teachers participate in a range of teaching roles and thus are oftentimes at the very forefront of student engagement, hence their ability to influence student learning in powerful ways. Sessionals contribute meaningfully to the learning and teaching community and their genuine interest in facilitating student learning, promotes high quality learning experiences as is evident in SFS.
The casual teaching experience encompasses but is not limited to preparing for and presenting tutorials and/or workshops; lectures; mentoring and group facilitation; designing teaching materials; external/online teaching and marking. In 2011, JCU peers and colleagues nominated Samantha Morgan for the FAESS Sessional Award, recognising her outstanding contributions to Student Learning.
In this account Samantha reflects on the casual teaching experience and what it means to be formally acknowledged for her positive contributions to student learning:
I teach from the assumption that everyone is interested in the topic and capable of success in it, and I try to use a range of methods to help students come to grips with new concepts. I supplement verbal presentations of ideas with images, or with physical demonstrations involving students. I use colour-coding to make written information visually engaging. I try to support learning with tasks which involve practicing new knowledge, or discussing it with other students. Asking questions is a good way to check comprehension when unpacking assessment instructions and criteria. Timely feedback on assignments is also important.
Outside of the classroom, I try to make myself available for consultation as much as possible. I have found students want to talk about their fears and doubts as often as they want to ask about their subjects, and much of the time they just need someone to listen. In the classroom, being approachable is about greeting students with a smile and creating opportunities for laughter. Being inclusive means knowing everyone’s name and making sure everyone gets a chance to speak. It also means responding with interest to all contributions and asking questions to develop thinking where it appears to need it, rather than making judgments. I think the personal is as important as the pedagogical if you are aiming for inclusivity.