In 2015 I was awarded the University Award for Excellence in Teaching. This is a highly prestigious award and I was praised by the selection committee for my commitment to inclusive teaching and education for all.
“It is through the kindness and support of people such as Tori that I felt I could finally settle and see myself studying here”
I am a responsive, inclusive and motivating teacher, committed to promoting education for all. These principles have been integral to my teaching and outreach work over the past six years. In the three years that I have been teaching on the Humanities with a Foundation Year (HUMFY) programme, HUMFY has quickly become one of the leading programmes in the Faculty of Arts and Humanities at the University of East Anglia, establishing high levels of student satisfaction. This achievement is firmly based on my commitment to excellence in teaching, particularly in my principles of breaking down the barriers to Higher Education and developing learner confidence. I also encourage a wide range of people to consider the value of Higher Education in my award winning outreach and engagement work.
I see a central part of my role as developing student confidence. This is essential not only in terms of student wellbeing but also in ensuring high student retention. The majority of our students come directly from FE, and so it can be easy for them to feel lost and alone. I see it as my responsibility to help them feel they are part of a community and this is an area in which I am very successful.
I am able to make each learner know that they matter, that their contributions are valuable and that what they study is relevant to their lives. I am a firm believer of ‘learning by doing’ and so build students into the process at all stages (be that in the classroom or in my outreach work). I therefore ensure that learning is a conversation rather than ‘transmissionist’. Throughout my teaching I encourage peer assessment. For example, I film formative presentations and as a group we watch them back with the presenter. I also email a copy of the video if the student requests it. This way students can see their skills develop over the years. Such activities can only work if you have excellent group rapport and confident students, something I have been praised for by my MA Higher Education Practice advisor: “She encouraged them to share their views and were clearly used to doing so, thus showing that a good rapport had been established”.
This principle of inclusive support is also clearly evidenced in my advising where I have sought additional training in order to be able to offer bespoke, relevant and thoughtful advice.
HUMFY experiences a higher than ‘usual’ proportion of learners with additional needs, and so my approach is to take the time to talk with each student, letting them know of the different ways that UEA can enable them to work on an ‘even playing field’. I always seek to provide a context where students do not feel shame for the difficulties they experience, knowing that students can only thrive in a context in which they feel supported and accepted. As a former student notes, my support “helped ease [her] nerves and increase [her] confidence” having recently been diagnosed with dyslexia. This reassures learners from all backgrounds that education is as much for them as it is anyone else and this is something that is central to my teaching philosophy.
 The Humanities with a Foundation Year programme accepts students with an average of CCC in their A-Levels and prepares them for Higher Education study
 2014 UEA Engagement Awards for Outstanding Contribution to Public & Community Engagement; 2013 Faculty of Arts and Humanities: Public Engagement Prize.
 On the module that I convened this year, students praised its applicability to their everyday lives, and the ways in which it encourages critical questioning: “focused on debating which was engaging and increased my understanding of the topic thoroughly”.
 4 In addition to this I have received a median score of 5 out of 5 for every indicator of teaching quality on every module that I have ever taught (FY, UG, PGT).