What about hobbies?
I enjoy reading fiction, and my all-time favourite books are by classic authors like John Buchan and Rafael Sabatini. But I grew up on sci-fi & fantasy like J.R.R. Tolkien and Anne McCaffrey and I still keep up with modern authors like Ann Leckie, Andrzej Sapkowski, and Scott Lynch. I’m not a big fan of George R.R. Martin but I published a research paper, or possibly a love-letter, to David & Leigh Eddings in Fafnir – The Nordic Journal of Science Fiction and Fantasy a few years ago. I also spend a lot of time listening to music, especially artists like Robyn, Grimes and Florence and the Machine. I think I only figured out my gender based on listening to Everything but the Girl on repeat for a year.
You’re non-binary right?
That’s right. I ask people to call me ‘they’ instead of ‘he’ or ‘she’. It makes me uncomfortable and upset when I am seen as, or treated like a man, but I wouldn’t like being treated like a woman either. Luckily everyone at the Academy for Distance Learning is so tolerant; I couldn’t ask for a more supportive place to work.
Tell us about a typical day at the Academy for Distance Learning
Tuesday is usually my marking day. I work from home, which can be a bit lonely sometimes, but it also means I can sing along (badly) to music while I work without any complaints which is lucky! I get automatic email notifications when learners submit work, so I’ll load up that week’s assignments and go through them. Usually my marking (and singing) gets interrupted about lunchtime by Ellie the Cat, so we make some lunch. In the afternoon, if I finish marking early, I sometimes have time to write for the ADL blog. Over the last month I’ve been working on a series of academic blog posts on the history of pesticides in the UK, which you should definitely read if you are worried about the bees.
What kind of tutor are you?
I like to think I am a very patient tutor. When I mark an assignment, I’m not sitting judgement over the author or their work, I am trying to work out how successful the lesson has been. A lot of our learners haven’t been in formal education for years, and it’s really common for students to feel like they might not be able to learn at all anymore. I want to prove to people that anyone can learn anything on our courses. I got terrible marks in my A-Levels, but I went on to get a first-class degree, and now I am a Dr and a Fellow of the Linnean Society. That’s all because my teachers were patient with me and understood that mistakes are a part of the learning process. I always accept resubmissions for my assignments, so if you make a mistake the first time you submit an assignment you can go back, try again and improve your mark. When I am your tutor, your grade should depend exclusively on how determined you are.
Any pet peeves?
Because of my academic background I get a bit cross about plagiarism (when students copy and paste other people’s work into their assignments). But no, I am really very relaxed with my tutoring. Learning is so much more successful when it’s fun!
Can we follow you elsewhere?
Right now, I’m experimenting with Twitter, so you can follow me @LeafyHistory, or keep an eye out for my articles in the ADL newsletters.