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, ensures high quality student 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 Raul Posse Emiliani for the FLBCA Sessional Award in recognition of his outstanding contributions to Student Learning.
My relationship with JCU has extended over a period of time, first as a student graduating in 2005 and nowadays teaching and mentoring students in photography in the Bachelor of New Media Arts program. I am working on my last subject in the Graduate Certificate of Tertiary Teaching and I have enjoyed the course very much.
Teachers who are approachable have the ability to transform students’ learning experiences. As a teacher, reflecting on the many miles I have walked and sometimes stumbled in the shoes as a JCU student, I am certain that two lecturers in particular contributed to my success because I could approach them with my questions. I feel fortunate that I can draw on those experiences; use a little humour, body language and encourage questions as a way to demonstrate my willingness to guide and mentor students in their learning. The sooner I know a student is having issues, the sooner I can help! Student feedback is important to me and it is good to know that many students say they feel comfortable to ask questions in my teaching sessions.
I believe students benefit by helping them break up their work into manageable workloads. My early introduction to teaching takes me back to Colombia where I taught English to adults who had to learn the language. Techniques that learners responded well to, I now incorporate in my teaching practice therein presenting things in visual form, linking things, using analogy, and brainstorming ideas. Photography is a free, self-oriented topic so I give students the option to choose and to use digital resources that are readily available.
Challenging students to think for themselves is important. In one assignment I show photographs but do not disclose who the photographer is – sometimes a name that is too difficult to read or pronounce; or a name that denotes gender or nationality can be dismissed prematurely, when in truth it is the image which speaks to the student and following this intuitive judgment is crucial to the creative process. This technique has produced impressive reflective essays.