Teaching: on the front line

June 4, 2004

What is your experience of teaching? Stuart Campbell asks teachers how they manage.

Name : Valerie Boyle

Age : 50

Job : Senior university teacher and learning resources manager, department of politics, international relations and European studies, Loughborough University.

Salary : I have two part-time contracts and am paid one proportion on "other-related grade 3" scale and the other on administrative, library, computer staff grade 1.

Qualifications : BA modern and mediaeval languages (Cambridge University); PGCE Background: I started teaching French and German in secondary schools.

After a gap of several years to bring up children, I taught a part-time post-GCSE German course at Loughborough University.

An additional part-time post as multimedia languages developer gave me the opportunity to train in information and communications technology. My learning resources manager role developed from here.

Hours spent teaching : I am responsible for levels 3 and 4 German as part of our university-wide language programme, which amounts to four-hours contact time a week.

As resources manager, I manage the Learning Resources Centre and help organise a programme of language evening classes for students, staff and the community. I give ICT support to students and colleagues for learning and teaching.

Hours on red tape : At the start of semester one, most of my time is spent taking evening-class registrations.

Hours on research : My role does not include research, but my development work has included integrating multimedia materials into my teaching and helping colleagues do the same.

Teaching bugbear : Students seem to have become increasingly reluctant to sit down and learn vocabulary and irregular verbs.

How did you solve it? I can't say that I've solved the problem, but online practice tests help with grammar, and the vocabulary-building programmes I've set up have proved popular.

Worst teaching moment? The worst moment recently was when I had a nosebleed halfway through a class. It's quite difficult teaching with a tissue under your nose and your head held back. I carried on for about ten minutes, but I gave up when I ran out of tissues.

Best teaching moment : After a session on the German case system, occasionally students will thank me for explaining something they say they never really understood at school.

Teaching tip? Start learning a new language, just to remind yourself how difficult it is.

Outside interests : Cycling, country walking, reading, music and cross-stitch.

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