SSD Newsletter, July 2021: A message from Dr Susan James Relly

Hybrid teaching is not easy

High quality teaching is a cornerstone of our work in the Social Sciences. I have been enormously impressed with the way that colleagues have adapted and innovated their approaches to teaching and learning for our students this academic year during the pandemic. Hybrid teaching is not easy, nor a natural fit with the way we traditionally approach teaching in Oxford; yet, it has shown what we are capable of and student feedback has been positive and appreciative.

When the government announced the lockdown in Michaelmas Term, we were in a privileged position compared to other organisations and institutions in that we were able to continue with or work, albeit in adapted forms. Teaching has been a lifeline for many staff and students as we have changed our ways of working and living. Continuing to have interaction with students in-person allowed some semblance of normality and colleagues, both academic and professional and services, went to great lengths to ensure our teaching facilities were Covid-safe. When we were required to pivot to teaching entirely online for Hilary Term colleagues reacted nimbly and with acuity – we were becoming quite experienced at remote teaching. Trinity Term has seen a mix of methods with many of our students still remote, some isolating, and some choosing to leave early to ensure they are home for the summer.

I have very much enjoyed conducting some supervisions in person outside and socially distanced in the warmer weather more recently, and have found these and my online interactions from teaching, supervision, and general meetings with students both rewarding and much-needed; hearing their enthusiasm and insight in our discussions has provided inspiration, determination and clarity. Inspiration in terms of ideas about research and novel methods and approaches to conduct their work given pandemic restrictions, and determination and clarity that we have given our students the best teaching we have been able to in this peculiar academic year. As we close this year and look toward 2021/2022 I have no doubt that colleagues in the Social Sciences will continue to innovate as hybrid teaching will still be needed as we move forward. Your dedication to our students, your subjects and teaching, and your collegiality throughout this year has been exemplary. It is the last especially that has made this year bearable as we strove to deliver the excellence we are known for. Colleagues have gone above and beyond, and I am extremely grateful – thank you.


Dr Susan James Relly

Associate Head (Education)