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5 questions with... our newest WATE award winner!

Congratulations to Cherisse Francis, a Doctoral Candidate in the Law School who has won a Postgraduates Who Teach Excellence award!

Congratulations on your WATE award! Can you tell us what is different about your approach to teaching?

CherisseI think my approach to teaching is about seeing the whole student and that makes it different. Although this sounds like a cliché that’s truly the answer. Even when I’m delivering the same content, I interact with classes differently based on their various personalities and the ways that I’ve seen them process information. For some groups this requires more ‘play’ or games and for others I can call them more directly to respond to questions. I also bring my whole self to teaching and use my personal and professional background to produce examples.

What’s your research focus?

My research focus is trafficking in persons in the English-speaking Caribbean. Broadly I look at the campaigns as well as the discourses currently used to combat trafficking in the sub-region and the extent to which they have been influenced by the Global North. What I’m really investigating is the impact that these external voices have had on anti-trafficking progress (or lack thereof) and how we can better integrate our culture and history into this field.

How does your research and study inform your teaching practice?

I was a law student once and I remember hating the traditional lecture styles and regurgitation that was expected of me. Once I entered legal practice I found that the way I was taught did not at all prepare me for legal practice or life beyond ‘school’. In my teaching practice I try to address those gaps. I use language and examples that occur in professional practice whether in the courts or between colleagues. I also took the time at the beginning of my classes to hear students’ hopes after their university education so that I can provide (sometimes) information that is of interest to them or that could help their professional development.

What’s your favourite thing about teaching?

My favourite thing about teaching is watching students get excited when they finally understand a concept and then having them challenge what I’ve said. There’s usually a moment when a light-bulb goes on and they comprehend something well enough that they can dissect my explanation and add to the discussion. I would explain a concept 100 times to see this light-bulb just once!

What advice do you have for students thinking about getting into teaching in higher education?

Just do it! You don’t have to be perfect, you don’t have to read everything and it’s okay to not know all the answers. If you are open and honest with your students they can often teach you more than you teach them. Also, your teaching practice will continuously develop as you find your rhythm.

Five cheeky bonus questions

Dab hand or disaster in the kitchen?

Dab hand for sure! I’m from the Caribbean, most of how we love is through food. It’s a sin for someone to come to my home or into my space and leave unfed. Cooking and baking is basically the same as therapy!

What's currently on your reading list?

I recently returned from the Commonwealth Youth Forum in Rwanda so my reading list is two books recounting stories from survivors of the Rwandan Genocide which I purchased while there!

Where’s your favourite spot on campus?

My favourite spot on campus is Wolfson Research Exchange in the Library. Just because it’s a space only for PGRs and once you enter, even if you never talk to anyone else you can sense that everyone is in the same space as you, confused on the journey to writing a PhD thesis.

How do you spend your spare time?

What is free time? ( just kidding) I spend most of my free time baking or cooking. If I’m not doing that I’ll talk to friends and family back home!

What's in your travel mug, coffee or tea?

Tea, all day every day! Specifically green-tea.