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WATE PGR 2020 Winner: Sam Holt (Physics)

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

The first teaching I did was when I was 15 years old, helping teach the local ski club and I became a ski instructor at age 16. I was a ski racer and the coach we had left so three of the older members, including myself, decided to train as coaches to teach the younger members coming through and to keep the ski club going.

What pearls of wisdom have you been given over the years that have helped you with your teaching?

Communication isn’t key. Comprehension is.

If you were mentoring a first-time teacher, what advice would you give?

Safety, Fun, and Learning (in that order).

What advice/top tips would you give to more experienced teachers?

Think about where your teaching fits into the skill acquisition model and if possible adapt your teaching style to complement it.

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

I really enjoy getting to know the students and knowing they leave with a better understanding of the world around them.

What are the biggest challenges faced by teaching staff? How do you overcome these?

The irreversibility of threshold concepts. Once you understand a key concept, it can be challenging to ever remember not knowing it making it difficult to express to people who haven’t passed this threshold. I find a two way dialogue with the students is helpful to bridge the knowledge gap, bringing the student to closer to the goal and you closer to understanding the student.

What lessons have you learned from your students?

Being open, approachable, and creating a good repour can make learning easier and fun.

Enjoyed hearing from Sam? See the full list of 2020 winners and commendees and read other interviews.