Teacher of the year about the devotion of teaching: "commitment"
The students at LUSEM have spoken. Igor Martins at the Department of Economic History is the Teacher of the year at LUSEM 2020! Every year our students are given the opportunity by the Education Committee of Lundaekonomerna to nominate their favourite teacher. The award “Teacher of the year” is very prestigious and the winner is solemnly presented at the annual Winter ball.
Congratulations, Igor! How does it feel to receive this award?
“It feels fantastic! I knew there was something called Teacher of the year award and I was very happy when Emma Olsson from Lundaekonomerna called me but I didn’t realize how prestigious it was until I started to receive phone calls and emails with congratulations and a lot of new friend requests at LinkedIn.”
Igor Martins came to Sweden in 2014 to study the master’s programme in Economic History at LUSEM. In 2016 Igor started his Ph.D. studies and in October 2020 he defended his thesis. Even if a lot has revolved around the thesis work there has been time to engage in another important activity: teaching! And Igor loves to teach. The fact is, if he had to choose, teaching comes first. Obviously, the love of teaching pays off, the motivation text about Igor’s skills as a teacher says it all (read the full motivation text further down below).
Why do you think the students voted for you?
“I believe it is my commitment to their education. I try to track their progress individually and I am available for them by keeping an open-door policy. My students feel that they can come by and talk about anything, even if it is not related to the course. They have for example asked me about my previous employments such as in the financial markets and oftentimes ask for career advice. I can see my younger self in each one of them. I remember.”
According to the students you seem to have managed to solve and meet the latest digital challenges in a very good way. What is your secret?
“I managed to give the students what they needed despite the situation. We were lucky to have Canvas when Covid-19 came. I think it is an excellent tool if you use it in the right way. I have also used Zoom for lectures but we also met in person, in small groups. Most of my lectures are hybrid solutions with a small group in a class room and the rest at Zoom. I put effort into the Zoom meetings to make them as good as possible. I check the brightness of the light, the angle of the computer screen and I always look into the camera lenses on my laptop. Small, simple things but so important…."
One goal is to always make it easier for the students. Igor has several ways of doing that:
“I always present something new to the students, something that is not available in the articles or the course literature and they can always find it in my slides, uploaded in Canvas. My course structure is the same, week after week. I am a minimalist…I want to keep it clean. The students know where to find everything, always in the same place. I pay a lot of attention to the number of clicks required to access the contents on Canvas. I also name my files in a certain way to make it easier for the students. If they download my files they will end up in the same order as I decided upon in the first place. And I avoid giving assignments over weekends, we work hard during the week and when the weekend comes both me and my students can feel free.”
What is the best part about teaching?
“The “aha” moments is the best part. When you see that the students managed to organize all the information you provided them and build knowledge out of it. The information comes together, they understand. That feels great! It is also about learning for me, I think I am the person to learn the most, I learn about myself.”
And the hardest?
“The hardest part is to always be spot-on, either if it’s about my Canvas pages or in class. To the students, you are the representative of the knowledge you are conveying. You can’t expect them to do things you wouldn’t be able to accomplish yourself. As a teacher, you should perform at the same level of excellence you demand the students perform. If you do not take your course seriously, why should they? If you do not respect their time, why should they respect yours? This, however, is hard. While the student is overseeing only his/her education, you are overseeing the education of dozens or even hundreds of students. This is what makes it hard. To deliver excellence constantly to hundreds of people."
At last, how will the Teacher of the year award inspire you in your forthcoming teaching?
“This validates that I am on to something. I am far from a perfect educator but clearly, I am doing good things more often than not. Knowing that my effort is recognized feels great and this inspires me to keep improving.”
The "Teacher of the year" motivation
Regardless of being online or in class, Igor’s dedication to his students is equally striking. He goes above and beyond to give meaningful feedback and truly takes an interest in the development and success of each individual. His excellent communication skills and intellectual capacity makes him stand out from the crowd.
Through continuously being receptive to students’ feedback he develops himself as a teacher and makes learning fun, rather than something tedious and hard. Igor is always passionate about the topics that he teaches; which in all cases is transferred to the students through his more than adequate pedagogical skills.
During this daunting period of digitalisation, he has truly made an effort in making the zoom-lectures clearly structured and interactive and always been available to help out - making it easier for students to keep up with their studies. His canvas pages are always easy to navigate and should be an example for other teachers to follow.
With that said, any student who receives the zoom-link to his virtual classroom can consider themselves lucky, which is why Igor Martins is elected Teacher of the Year at Lund University School of Economics and Management.