Roger Telfer recently received a Student Led Fellowship Award for Outstanding Teacher, 2014 in a graduation ceremony held in February 2015. Our partner university, Cardiff Metropolitan launched the Student-led Teaching Fellowships in 2011/2012 to provide students with the opportunity to recognise and reward excellent teaching practice. The award is the most distinguished that the university can bestow on an academic colleague. Here we get the opportunity to talk to Roger about his reaction to receiving this award and share his
experiences of teaching.
LSC Connect: Congratulations Roger. You must have felt so honoured when you found out you were the winner of the Student Led Fellowship Award. What was your initial reaction?
Roger: Delighted of course, and surprised that so many students had felt inclined to take the trouble to vote for me. I felt privileged because I know, even in my relatively short period lecturing at the LSC, that there are many very able and inspiring lecturers working here.
LSC Connect: What did you win and how did you celebrate?
Roger: I received a beautiful glass award along with a transcript of
LSC Connect: How long have you been teaching?
Roger: Well …… would you believe 48 years? After graduating from the University of Exeter in 1966, and undertaking a Diploma in Education at the University of Newcastle in 1967, I started teaching at The King’s School in Pontefract in Yorkshire. Over the next 48 years I have lectured in schools, further education (FE) and higher education (HE) colleges, and, in the past 15 years for different universities. During this period I did, at one stage, have a smaller teaching commitment when I was Head of the School of Business and Management in a large FE and HE college. After my initial retirement in 2002, I taught at Anglia Ruskin University for 6 to 7 years. I joined LSC in late 2013 and have thoroughly enjoyed my time so far …. the students from so many different countries and cultures are a constant pleasure, and also, so receptive to learning in the UK.
LSC Connect: 48 years! That is amazing. What has and continues to motivate you to teach?
Roger: I have often asked myself this. When I tell people that I have taught all my life, many of them are amazed. However, I have always believed that education can be a powerful force for good. I still find great delight in sharing with students what I have learned over the years, and giving them the facility to enhance their own lives through learning. The day-to-day experience of the teacher can be very wearing and tiring what people underestimate is the amount of preparation that good teaching entails. Nevertheless, the rewards, like the one I received recently, outweigh all those negative experiences.
LSC Connect: In nominating you for the award, students spoke not only of your total enthusiasm and ability to breathe vitality into the subject but also your skills in inspiring the development of knowledge outside their class time. How do you motivate your students, and what do you do to help them learn?
Roger: Motivating students is not always easy of course. However, I have always been enthusiastic about the importance of the subjects I have taught for all these years mainly Economics and Research Methodologies. I find no difficulty in enthusing about both of them. Economics is a ‘living’ subject and there is no shortage of current events occurring which I can use as examples in my lectures; students too are aware of the economic world around them and between us we have no problem in filling our time together positively and productively. Research Methodologies is a highly academic subject with a received protocol attached. I enjoy the passing on of that form and academic protocol. The skills learned through the subject should, I firmly believe, lead to better decision-making in all walks of life where evidence-based decision making should be paramount.
LSC Connect: What are your biggest challenges?
Roger: At the LSC, the main challenge is delivering long three hour sessions to large groups of students from a huge number of countries, with different cultures, different expectations and different grasps of the English language. I have to be constantly inventive with the words, phrases and images I use in these sessions. At a personal level… as you can imagine, age does start creeping up on you and the real challenge I want to continue to overcome is that of maintaining my standards of work for a few more years yet!
LSC Connect: What are your future plans?
Roger: I suspect that I am in the twilight of my career …… so I would like to continue to work part-time as I am doing at the moment; continue to learn- you are never too old for that; enjoy my family and particularly my lovely grandchildren; and, in the immediate future, enjoy the Disney cruise we are taking them on!
LSC Connect: What advice do you have for a teacher who is just starting out?
Roger: Never think that you have got teaching ‘sorted out’. There are always new ways to approach your teaching. Remember to always inspire, enthuse, coax and cajole your students, they will appreciate it in the end. Also remember what I said earlier that much hard work is necessary never go into a class unprepared or underprepared.
LSC Connect: Thank you for taking the time to share your experience with us. I hope you continue to be inspire and enthuse in all that you do whether it’s teaching at LSC or taking the grandchildren on a Disney cruise.