When I began my teaching career I spent so much time putting all my energy into work, taking marking home every night and spending free periods helping and developing students and their projects. This is all very important yes, as teaching a hard job but also very fulfilling. However, when I went on University open days, tours and workshops with my classes I felt suddenly envious for all the wonderful creative opportunities the students had. This was the first period in my life where I was being very creative and developing ideas with my students which I do love, but doing nothing for myself. Each year I see students off for their big adventures in higher education which is one of the more fulfilling factors about my job, helping students take this next step in life, and this year the first cohort I ever taught will graduate University.
Have you ever had periods in your career like this? How important is it for you as a creative teacher to continue your own professional practice?
I think it is crucial as a creative lecturer to have projects and opportunities to nurture your own development, whether this be going to exhibitions, seeing shows or going to conferences and talks on creative topics. I find this keeps my brain thinking! Recently I went to see the Sonia Delaunay exhibition at Tate Modern. This was really inspiring with the vibrant colours and shapes which she painted in an abstract nature. Yes this does make you think ‘it would be great for a project at work’ but it is refreshing to read about others thought process and see first-hand the pieces of art. I left feeling inspired.
Currently I have many other projects under my belt I am progressing to enrich my own creativity. As yes I really enjoy teaching and working with the students but there are many other pressures in working in education. I have begun to teach within adult education on interest courses, which I find totally different and very enjoyable. The dialogue also with learners who come to these sessions adds to the enjoyment, hearing about their individual aims and what they want to achieve.
Finally I am beginning to expand my research portfolio from an academic angle. Daring to send abstracts off to conferences I have managed to gain a place presenting a poster at The University of York, and to present at paper at The University of Oxford. And of course also the brilliant opportunity of writing here as part of the Worn through community. I discuss my additional activities with my students at work, who mainly are really interested in what I am doing and the experiences I have had in my career and previous training at University myself. I hope by doing these for myself it enriches my outlook in my current position and I can guide my students to a higher level and relay all of my experiences as these are opportunities they may wish to progress their careers on to. How do you find juggling your creative and academic careers? Do your students ask you about creative projects your are involved with?