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WATE 2015 winner: Clare Rowan (Classics)

Clare RowanOne of our 2015 WATE winners, Clare sees her position as a research fellow as a chance to create opportunities for students to act as researchers. Alongside this, she has had a major impact on how Classics students learn key transferable skills, enhancing their employability.

Why did you start teaching? What (or who) inspired you?

I enjoy my subject area and am passionate about it; teaching in this sense was a natural evolution!

What pearls of wisdom have you been given over the years that have helped you with your teaching?
  • don’t be afraid of a long silence while waiting for students to respond to a question
  • you can’t be universally popular, particularly if you challenge students and take them out of their comfort zones
  • there are different types of learner, so make sure you cater to them all!
Is there anything you wish someone had told you when you started out?

Repeat and return to key themes and concepts to ensure that students remember and understand them. And, as with most things, you will improve as a teacher over time!

If you were mentoring a first-time teacher, what three bits of advice would you give?
  • break up lectures with discussions/problem solving or other activities
  • signpost different lecture themes or topics as you move between them
  • always spell or have written somewhere unfamiliar words
What advice/top tips would you give to more experienced teachers?

Often we think it is obvious why we are teaching a particular topic or taking a particular approach, but it may be far less clear to the students, particularly at the beginning of their studies. I have learnt to explain ‘why’ and find this creates greater enthusiasm and commitment from students.

What new technologies are you currently using to enhance your teaching? What are your top tips for using them?

I use digital stories in the form of short videos, and am developing text coding as a method to encourage students in close readings of texts. I think the key to using digital technologies in the classroom is to choose software that is easy to use (to ensure the lesson doesn’t become about the technology), and to explain to students the reasons we are taking a particular approach, or performing a particular task.

What new or future teaching innovations are you looking forward to?

More and more of the ancient world is becoming accessible online through databases; I look forward to developments in 3D visualisation technology which means we may be able to have a 3D image or print or an ancient object, meaning we can examine it in a way not possible via a photo.

What do you enjoy the most about teaching? What’s the best part of your job?

I enjoy introducing students to new ideas and concepts, and watching students develop over the years. One of the best parts of the job is seeing students improving or achieving great things; graduation day is always a great moment.

What lessons have you learned from your students?

I have learnt that what you study at university does not necessarily determine your future career path. Also, you are never too old to start learning something new!

Know someone like Clare? Nominate them now for a WATE award!