(2014-15, 2015-16, 2016-17 Teaching Assistant)
Teaching Assistant of the Year 2016-17
How did you support your challenge group?
I transformed my interest in ARTs into an “Artist-Researcher-Teacher” approach to assist my challenge groups. By offering different forms of Arts including images and music during the project, I encouraged the students to think creatively and critically and enjoy the research process. Whilst I could be quite strict as a “quality filter and controller”, I always ensured that my group found the whole process exciting. They should feel confident that they earned it themselves.
I also drew my attention to the uniqueness of each team in each year. The combination of various personalities, backgrounds, disciplines, and cultures would require me to address slightly, or extremely, different teaching methods and techniques.
What was the most rewarding part of carrying out this role?
Contributing to the students’ development was the biggest gift I could ask for. I learnt that teenage years and the early 20s is an ideal time for learning and obtaining cultural advantages, as well as advancing creative skills. Therefore, I feel so grateful to be part of the students’ journeys of growing mind-set and manner.
Additionally, the success of The Birmingham Project is built upon the great collaboration and effort of the organising team, the supporting teams, the academics, and the external partners. I feel lucky to have the opportunity to work with the best people in helping students to gain distinctive educational experience. I am so proud to be part of The Project and to be recognised by The Project.
What skills and/or experience have you gained from carrying out this role?
I am fascinated by the creativity and the talent of “screenagers”. The teenagers born in the age of digitalisation and multi-screens are interesting. Assisting them in learning new knowledge and skills also helps me train and gain myself significantly.
Working in an inter-disciplinary and trans disciplinary environment is a valuable experience. It can be very challenging to push boundaries when working with people from different backgrounds and expertise. Furthermore, good communication might not always mean “well spoken” if it came to the quest of exchanging tacit knowledge that could not be expressed easily through words.
Do you have any advice for anyone who is thinking about applying for the Teaching Assistant role?
I would suggest the 4Es: Energy, Expertise, Encouragement and Embracement.
Give your best Energy to fuel your team. Bring your Expertise and professional manner on board as your students will learn from what you do, unconsciously or intentionally. Encourage them to welcome unconventional thoughts and learn to harmonise the counterpoints. Embrace yourself, your strength, and diversity.
I also wish to stress that The Birmingham Project is a well-established research scheme. So, if you are into research, the Project can offer you valuable research ideas, data, and connection.
Developed by renowned academics and experts in the fields, the themes and challenges in the Project suggest many trend research themes such as social issues, community engagement, and University-Industry collaboration, all of which are very publishable.
My PhD thesis was developed from the data collected when I worked in The Birmingham Project (with full consent) and parts of my research have now been published in a book chapter, a journal paper, not to mention a number of conference proceedings and talks. If you are looking for opportunities in the industry, you can establish your network with well-known companies and get more informed of their on-going projects, such as Silicon Canal by IBM.
All in all, opportunities are right here. You just need to give yourself a chance.