In Conversation with Angbeen Atif Mirza, Awardee Inaugural Vice Chancellor’s Award for Teaching Excellence
Angbeen Atif Mirza at the Shaikh Ahmad Hassan School of Law (SAHSOL) is one of the five awardees for the inaugural Vice Chancellor’s Awards for Teaching Excellence. The Award celebrates exceptional and inspirational teachers at LUMS.
Mirza’s teaching philosophy focuses on making theoretical content accessible and critically engaging for her students in their study of law. She takes her students on a magical journey of discovery and project-based learning in courses that generally are taught in a teacher-centric traditional manner. Her contributions to teaching go well beyond the classroom – Mirza has been a mentor to her students; helping them to secure internships, further study opportunities, and to engage in community work. She has introduced the Legal Clinic and the Street Law programme at SAHSOL, which are a testament to her dedication to teaching and ensuring that her students have an impact beyond LUMS.
As one of her students commented, “My Street Law experience helped me in gaining not only personal but also professional skills. This overwhelming experience taught me the importance of law, education, and communication.” Throughout her time teaching at LUMS she has revised her teaching pedagogy in response to feedback from her students and the latest trends in teaching and learning, evolving as a teacher who strives to cultivate the love for learning.
Here is an insight into Mirza’s teaching methodology, her inspirational teachers, and her future aspirations.
What inspired you to become a teacher?
I have always enjoyed the study of law. Engaging with ideas of rules and justice and how that plays out in society has been an area that I have always found exciting. Discussing these concepts, challenging student’s worldviews, and interacting with students from different backgrounds has always been inspirational for me.
What are your goals for your teaching career?
I want to see SAHSOL establish a clinical education centre, with practical course offerings in a variety of areas of the law being offered alongside the more traditional, theoretical and black-letter law courses.
What are some of the challenges teachers face today?
I think one of the challenges we face is competing with social media for student attention! Or just trying to retain student attention generally in a time when we are bombarded by information in attractive and innovative ways. It can be difficult to retain student interest in material that might not always seem as engaging by comparison.
How would you describe your teaching style?
I would like to say empathetic and collaborative. I hope my students don’t disagree! I aspire to make my classroom a welcome space where we all engage with the subject matter as a group, rather than a one-way transfer of information.
Amongst your various achievements, what is one thing as a teacher that you are really proud of?
I’m very proud of my Street Law class. I’m grateful that I was trusted to set it up at SAHSOL. I love seeing my students grow and take on the role of the teacher and develop extremely innovative teaching activities. Every year, students come up with exciting new ways to engage their audience (students in secondary schools), and it makes me really proud to see that process unfold.
If there is one thing that you want your students to remember, what would that be?
I would want them to remember that the ethics of the profession come before anything else. It's more important to be inclusive and collaborative than to win alone.
Are there any teachers in your life who have inspired you?
Yes, many. To name a few: Sadaf Aziz, Moeen Cheema, and Bilal Minto have inspired me by what they have taught me, particularly in the area of social justice, the way they went about it, and the way in which Sadaf has always encouraged me to believe that I could achieve goals that I would have otherwise thought out of my reach. I hope to be able to do that for my students.
Mark Rosenbaum at Michigan Law is someone that I aspire to be based on what he does as a social justice lawyer, and Richard Roe at Georgetown will be a lifelong inspiration in teaching methods and Street Law.
What do you find most rewarding as a teacher?
The moment when I am able to connect with a student. On a point that I may be teaching or something that may be part of a class discussion, just the point when we are on exactly the same page of understanding.
What value does the Vice Chancellor’s Award for Teaching Excellence hold for you?
The idea that the effort we put into the daily routine of teaching and working for the larger community is being appreciated by the University is amazing. It makes me want to work harder and better!