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NTFS 2022: Q&A with Bee Bond

17 Aug 2022 | Advance HE National Teaching Fellow 2022 Bee Bond is Associate Professor of English for Academic Purposes at The University of Leeds.

How did you feel when you found out you won a 2022 National Teaching Fellowship?

I had just returned from a week of annual leave and opened my inbox with the usual trepidation around how many urgent issues I might find myself having to deal with on my return. The ‘Congratulations’ email was at the top of my inbox and was the best possible first email to read.

I also felt a great sense of relief. Having applied unsuccessfully twice before, it was a relief that the confidence my institution had had in my work was now also externally recognised, and that I wouldn’t need to think about whether to go through the process again.

The relief was then quickly replaced with worry about the visibility the award was going to give me and the high expectations it would give others around my knowledge and competence – imposter syndrome is never far away.

What does the recognition mean to you / your students / institution?

Much of my work is around making language visible in the University and highlighting the importance of language in knowledge building and communication and also in how it can deny many students access to this.

I hope this award will give increased visibility to this work and to how we are working to build an awareness of the importance of academic literacies and language work into approaches to teaching and learning across campus at Leeds.

What, for you, encapsulates teaching excellence?

I’m always quite wary of the idea of ‘excellence’, especially when it comes to teaching and learning. What is viewed as excellent or best practice in one context is almost guaranteed to not work in another context. I also often see excellence used in connection with what I think of as ‘busy’ teaching, constantly incorporating new ideas, approaches and technologies simply because they are new.

Whilst there’s obviously nothing wrong with introducing new ideas to your practice, aiming to be constantly excellent in this kind of ‘cutting edge’ way is exhausting and ultimately unsustainable, especially if done on an individual basis and without taking the time to investigate their implementation properly.

So, rather than thinking of teaching excellence, I prefer to think in terms of teaching ethically. Teaching that is based on clear ethics and principles that form the foundation of the work we do, rather than any tangible attribute or competency. I would describe this ethical attitude as being questioning, reflexive, unafraid of making mistakes, being open about failures and working to understand both failures and successes through scholarship. It involves working with and valuing others, building relationships based on trust and developing a sense of shared responsibility for learning.

How do you plan to maximise the impact of your National Teaching Fellowship?

I’m not sure I ever have plans around things like this. I’m still slightly in shock that I was awarded the Fellowship, and tried not to think ahead too much in terms of what it might mean to have it before I got the news.

I hope it will help to make the important work of others in my profession – English for Academic Purposes practitioners – less marginalised. I also hope it will enable me to make connections with people in other institutions who are keen to find better ways of supporting students to be able to communicate their knowledge and understanding, ensuring that whatever their language background is, they feel able to express themselves and that their language use doesn’t act as a barrier to their academic ambitions or choices.

What advice would you give to prospective NTFs?

  • Don’t give up. Don’t be afraid of failure.
  • Do work that you enjoy rather than work that you think might lead to awards, prizes or promotion.
  • Understand what your niche is and why it’s important – to you mainly, but also to your students and colleagues.
  • Work with others - students and colleagues (although I would argue that students are also colleagues when it comes to teaching and learning) - in whatever way you can in your context. This includes mentoring, being mentored, collaborating on scholarship projects, supporting others in their teaching and team teaching.


Bee Bond is Associate Professor of English for Academic Purposes (EAP) at The University of Leeds. She has taught EAP at the Language Centre in Leeds since 2001, working with international students to understand the language, skills, cultures and contexts in UK higher education and in disciplinary practices.  

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