Teaching and Learning Gallery

Leonardo Costantini

Leonardo shares more detail about their practice us and how they felt about being shortlisted for a Bristol Teaching Award.  

  1. Which Award were you shortlisted for? 

Inspiring and Innovative Teaching Award

  1. How did you feel when you found out you had been shortlisted for an Award? 

I was delighted to discover I had been shortlisted for the Inspiring and Innovative Teaching Award: it is great to receive recognition for one’s work, and I feel deeply grateful to the students who nominated me. Likewise, I am truly grateful for being shortlisted! This really means a lot to me.

  1. Can you tell us a little bit about your practice and why you were nominated? 

I endeavor to make my classes stimulating, enjoyable, as well as accessible to all students. A crucial aspect is to create a safe learning environment, where students feel safe to interact with me and with each other without feeling judged. Making mistakes is at the core of learning, so students must feel safe and willing to give it a go, even when they are not entirely certain about an answer. At times it can be challenging to make all students equally interested, especially when working with mixed cohorts: with students from different years and courses, some of them may already have a certain knowledge of the subject matter. I found it, therefore, necessary to adapt my teaching and the learning resources to every class, tailoring these to the students’ own needs and interests. Thus, it is very helpful to keep updating—in some cases rewriting altogether—the teaching resources (e.g. language textbooks), and to introduce during my classes some of my research outputs, or at least a streamlined version of it. This made it possible for the students to test and enhance their critical skills and enabled me, in turn, to get interesting and helpful feedback. It was very rewarding to see that students recognised all the effort I put into my teaching.

  1. What inspires you to go the extra mile with your teaching? 

I love making the Classics accessible and interesting to all my students. This is becoming increasingly difficult as it is a subject so distant from our contemporary views and perceptions of the world. However, learning a different culture, no matter how chronologically distant, gives us an opportunity to reflect about ourselves and get a deeper knowledge of our own culture. This is a point I frequently stress in my classes.More than anything, I try to convey my passion for Classics, and if that means creating an extra series of classes from scratch to cover a topic students would like to learn (which I did in 2020/21 and 2021/22), then I always do my best to make that happen!

  1. What would you like to share with others about your teaching practice? 

Two key aspects in my teaching practice are empathy and rigorous preparation. I believe that creating effective teaching resources, and tailoring exercises and seminar questions to the students’ needs is only possible when you can fully perceive how students react to your teaching. Are they finding it enjoyable? Do they engage with it or are they looking passive and uninterested? Recognising these factors is essential, and one needs to correct things accordingly rather quickly. This takes time and energy, but it is absolutely worth it.

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