Educators of Impact: In conversation with Joyce El-Haddad
There’s no doubt that Joyce El-Haddad nurtures in her students an innate love for learning and discovery. As one of this year’s highest student-nominated teachers in our university, Joyce strives for the best in both herself (she is a PhD candidate), her students and in her teaching practice. She believes that bringing a personalised approach to her lessons is the best way to engage her students in their learning journeys. She achieves this by getting to know who her learners are and how they learn best as individuals, while integrating different modes of technology, drawings, analogies and discussion, and connecting her unit content to real-world scenarios.
What do you love about your work as a teacher at MQ?
I love being part of someone’s university experience. I love instilling new knowledge in students and ways to think critically and see beauty in their journey of learning.
How do feel about being so highly valued by your students in receiving one of the highest number of student nominations and in their positive feedback?
I feel elated to receive such a high number of testimonials and positive feedback from students especially at such an early stage in my career (and in 2020!). It is and always will be so special and touching to have contributed positively to someone’s education.
I have had a few teachers throughout my own education who through their inspiring demeanour have remained an influence in everything I do. So, it is very rewarding to know that I am embodying my own inspirations towards my students.
Name one or two other key achievements as a teacher?
My favourite thing about my role is how dynamic it is. I am constantly learning new things and refreshing my knowledge about the human body, which fuels my curiosity even more and inspires my teaching. There is never a dull day!
I also really enjoy mentoring students who are interested in getting involved in projects, and even teaching. There is something special about helping someone subscribe to the lens I see teaching and learning through.
What kind of student inspires and/or challenges your approach to teaching?
The self-doubting student interests me. Self-doubt can manifest in many ways, whether that be appearing to ‘not care’, or visibly stressing out. My approach changes in these situations to address the individual first and help the student identify and encourage their potential. I strive with them to work towards that. It is very easy to dismiss and not address individual needs, however, where I am challenged in such scenarios is where I am most rewarded.
What did you do to support your students’ learning during the COVID-19 restrictions?
I brought the human into human anatomy. In semester one, I had an opportunity to convene and teach across four different anatomy units. I kept lectures live, and I organised check-in Zooms with my students. This gave them a platform to discuss their worries about online learning.
I also encouraged students to create a routine for themselves and posted kid-friendly anatomy colouring-in material to support parents who were studying. I also started an Instagram page (@orientatewithjoyce) where I used this platform to share content and study tips – even memes!
What would be your number one tip for other teaching staff?
My number one tip would be to stop worrying about including the latest technologies, or latest teaching methods, but rather to reflect on how meaningful you can make the human interaction with the students.
No matter how interesting the content is, or the technology used to deliver it, the humanity and energy an educator brings to teaching that content is what matters, and what will resonate most with students.
What does great leadership in the learning and teaching sphere look like to you?
To me, great leadership, especially in learning and teaching, is a leader who can offer high levels of autonomy to their team and their students. A leadership style that can recognise and appreciate the unique attributes everyone has to offer.
What would the perfect university classroom of the future look like to you?
I don’t think there is such a thing as a perfect university classroom. I think the near ideal future of university classes will be balanced with old and new ways, which needs to constantly be adapted to suit the needs of society.
When you aren’t involved in student learning, what do you do to relax?
On an average weekend, I usually catch up with friends.