Teaching as a Relational Practice: My approach to teaching has developed over the last decade or so, from my beginnings as a Tutor during my PhD studies, through to my first academic appointment in 2004, to my role as a Senior Lecturer in the Crawford School of Economics and Government, The Australian National University's postgraduate policy school. My expertise is in public sector management, a field that draws on a range of disciplines and where effective teaching requires a combination of intellectual breadth and depth, and an appreciation of the practice of management in context. Throughout my academic career I have focused on bringing my research expertise into the classroom, and creating an environment where students can also bring their expertise and experience. This creates a collaborative learning environment where each have something to teach and something to learn. I have been humbled through my teaching experience by the depth of contribution of my students, especially in my current position where I have the privilege to work with experienced professionals who practise what I have spent the last decade researching.
I learned early on in my career that teaching is relational and that great things can be achieved by forming and developing relationships of trust in the classroom, in part because a supportive environment encourages students to take the intellectual risks which help them to learn. As my teaching practice has developed I have been able to transfer this to understanding to the teaching of much larger classes. Whilst this can be a challenge, the feedback that I receive from students and the recognition from my peers demonstrate that I have been able to transfer critical lessons from small group learning and apply them to much larger groups of students. I take great pride in my ability to get to know my students, understand their worldview and expertise, and to work with them to bring this into the classroom, all the while focusing on developing their professional skills. My approach to teaching now reflects the knowledge that I have developed over time, working in different institutions, with different student groups, and with diverse sets of colleagues, and that now underpins a sustained contribution.
My success as a teacher reflects a deep commitment to inspiring and motivating students to learn - not just from experts in the scholarly world, but from the experts sitting beside them in the classroom - and ensuring that students feel respected and supported in their development as individuals. I honed these skills over several years, firstly as a Tutor working with relatively small groups of undergraduates in a management school, through to a role where I was responsible for the design and delivery of courses that focus on the complexities of making managerial decisions and designing policy advice.