Unconditional Teaching start

Tyll Zybura

Created by Tyll Zybura on 17 Oct 2019

Als Referent für hochschuldidaktische Workshops schöpfe ich aus meiner langjährigen Erfahrung als Dozent für schreibintensive literatur- und kulturwissenschaftliche Seminare, aber auch aus meiner Praxis als lösungsfokussierter Coach.

Meine Lehre ist erfolgreich, weil ich eine empathische und wertschätzende Haltung gegenüber Studierenden praktiziere, aus der sich spezifische Kommunikationsweisen und Methoden in Lehre und Betreuung ableiten. Diese Methoden gebe ich in meinen Workshops für Unconditional Teaching an Kolleg*innen weiter.

Als lösungsfokussierter Coach kann ich auf einen reichen Fundus an konstruktiven Fragen und Hilfsmitteln zurückgreifen, die Ressourcen aktivieren und Selbstwirksamkeit stärken. Das hilft mir im Unterricht und in den Workshops. Für Unconditional Teaching biete ich auch individuelles Lehr-Coaching an.

Meine wissenschaftlichen Forschungsthemen drehen sich unter anderem darum, wie unsere Gesellschaft Kindheit als Identitätskategorie konstruiert, was Zombie-Filme mit Biopolitik zu tun haben oder wie queere (Selbst-)Repräsentation funktioniert.

Für Studierende habe ich gemeinsam mit Katharina Pietsch und Vivian Gramley den Schreibratgeber Writing in English Studies (externer Link) veröffentlicht.


As a workshop trainer for teaching in higher education, I draw on many years of experience as a lecturer for writing-intensive seminars in literature and cultural studies, as well as on my practice as a solution-focused coach.

My teaching is successful because I practice an empathetic and appreciative attitude toward students, from which I derive specific communication styles and methods in my teaching and mentoring. In my workshops for Unconditional Teaching I pass these methods on to my colleagues.

As a solution-focused coach, I can draw on a wealth of constructive questions and tools that activate resources and strengthen self-efficacy. This helps me in the classroom and in my workshops. For Unconditional Teaching, I also offer individual coaching for teachers.

My scholarly research topics revolve around, for example, how our society constructs childhood as an identity category, what zombie movies have to do with biopolitics, or how queer (self-)representation works.

I have co-authored a writing guide for students: Writing in English Studies (opens new window).

Meine Essays / My essays

„Ich möchte mich für die herausragende Betreuung im Studium und die exzellenten Seminare bedanken“

Wir haben einen wunderbaren Brief von einem unserer ehemaligen Studierenden bekommen, den wir gern teilen möchten.

12 May 2022 | 2 comments | Tags: Essays, Letters from our students

Das eigene ‚Mittelmaß‘ anstreben

Viele Studierenden haben eine ungesund stressige Alles-oder-Nichts-Haltung gegenüber ihrer eigenen Arbeit. Sie entspannen sich etwas, wenn sie lernen Prioritäten zu setzen, und wenn sie sich erlauben, bei weniger wichtigen Leistungen „Mittelmäßigkeit“ zu akzeptieren, um Zeit und Energie zu sparen. / Original English version: On ‘embracing mediocrity’.

3 Feb 2022 | 2 comments | Tags: Essays, Mental health, Powertools

We’re celebrating two years of Unconditional Teaching!

[DE] In diesem Dezember feiern wir das zweijährige Bestehen von Unconditional Teaching! [EN] This December we’re celebrating two years of Unconditional Teaching!

21 Dec 2021 | Tags: News, Essays

Empathisch handeln (statt empathisch sein)

Warum unser konventionelles Verständnis von Empathie problematisch ist und wie Empathie als Praktik unsere Lehre verbessern kann. / Original English version: On doing empathy.

26 Oct 2021 | Tags: Essays, Mindset, Empathie, Macht, Privileg, Verletzlichkeit, DE

The most wonderful student letters

For Christmas 2020, Katharina and I received a box full of lovely letters from students who express their appreciation for our teaching. :)

4 Jan 2021 | Tags: News, Essays, Letters from our students

Teaching about plagiarism (or not)

As teachers, we need to frame plagiarism as a technical problem, not a moral one. Learning how to avoid plagiarism is an integral part of learning what academic writing is about. In fact, once students understand how and why to write as scholars, plagiarism will become a non-issue.

22 Jun 2020 | 2 comments | Tags: Essays, Analysis, Teaching practices, Teaching writing, Plagiarism, Accountability, Positionality, Ownership

Killing curiosity: why exams harm scholarship and education

Teaching is about establishing and sustaining connection between curious minds to create and to share ideas and knowledge. Exams are about generating distance and social barriers to safeguard privilege. They are harmful to students and harmful to scholarship.

21 Apr 2020 | Tags: Essays, Analysis, Institutional education, Testing, Grading, Intrinsic motivation, Power, Gate-keeping, Privilege, Mastery

Keep contact to your students in this time of crisis

This is a call to teachers and supervisors to take proactive steps to keep in (virtual) touch with your students in a time of crisis.

19 Mar 2020 | Tags: Essays, Corona crisis, Teacher-student communication, Doing empathy

Showing vulnerability

Acknowledging our vulnerability as teachers by addressing difficulties in class openly is a powerful strategy for connection and learning.

17 Feb 2020 | 4 comments | Tags: Essays, Mindset, Vulnerability, Communication, Empathy, Conditional teaching

Magic questions to ask students about their writing

In my writing supervision I focus on process instead of results and on reflection instead of adherence to rules to help students experience more agency over their writing when they become aware of their own writing strategies.

27 Nov 2019 | Tags: Essays, Teaching writing, Teacher-student communication

Speaking to students about self-care and mental health

Spending thirty minutes of one class session on honest talk about stress and suffering and coping and healing can have an enormous positive impact on our students’ lives.

28 Oct 2019 | Tags: Essays, Mental health, Self-care, Empathy, Powertools

The poisonous perfectionist vs the constructive critic

Perfectionism is a fear-based attitude towards failure that inhibits learning and encourages self-sabotage. We can fight it by strengthening the inner constructive critic to focus on processes of revision and improvement.

27 Oct 2019 | Tags: Essays, Analysis, Teaching writing, Perfectionism, Self-doubt

Downscaling course prep tasks

When students don’t do my prep assignments, I teach them how to ‘downscale’ homework instead of not doing it at all. This leads to homework being done more consistently as it empowers students to consciously manage their resources and priorities.

14 Oct 2019 | Tags: Essays, Teaching practices, Communication, Time management

Relieving stress in student writing

I found that I can relieve the writing anxiety many of my students have by de-emphasising normative writing advice and facilitating an appreciative, non-evaluative awareness of their individual writing strategies.

14 Oct 2019 | Tags: Essays, Teaching practices, Teaching writing, Strategies-based teaching

On ‘embracing mediocrity’

Students often have an unhealthy all-or-nothing attitude toward their work which increases stress levels. They relax a bit when they learn to prioritize their work and allow themselves to ‘embrace mediocrity’ on low-stakes tasks to save time and energy. / Deutsche Version: ‘Mittelmaß’ anstreben.

14 Oct 2019 | 1 comment | Tags: Essays, Mental health, Powertools

No apologies necessary

In my experience as a teacher, students apologize far too much. I think that is troubling, so I try to reframe their ‘failure’ to meet some formal expectation or other as a chance to take control of their own learning.

14 Oct 2019 | 1 comment | Tags: Essays, Teaching practices, Communication

Congruent self- and supervisor assessment

Students often express that my responses to their writing are in consonance with their own self-assessment, which motivates them to revise their papers. The specific form of my responses facilitates this congruity, and here’s why.

7 Aug 2019 | Tags: Essays, Teaching writing, Teacher-student communication

On doing empathy

Why our usual thinking about empathy is flawed and how empathy as practice will improve our teaching. / Deutsche Version: Empathisch handeln (statt empathisch sein)

6 Aug 2019 | 1 comment | Tags: Essays, Mindset, Empathy, Vulnerability, Privilege, Power

Tyll on Unconditional Teaching

In this entry, I draw a parallel between the mindset of Unconditional Basic Income (UBI) and our concept of Unconditional Teaching.

24 Jul 2019 | Tags: Essays, Mindset, Unconditional Basic Income, Teaching writing

Appreciative responses to student writing

When I respond to student writing, I want to take it seriously as scholarly work with a communicative intent. This 6-step-method of writing responses makes my feedback as effective as possible both in terms of its usefulness for students and in terms of the time it takes me to do.

3 Nov 2017 | Tags: Essays, Teaching writing, Feedback

Revision-oriented supervision of student writing

Feedback that is given on late-stage draft versions of student writing instead of on finalized papers is more meaningful to students because they can immediately use it for a revision of their work. Especially if the feedback is an appreciative response.

27 Oct 2017 | Tags: Essays, Teaching writing

For strategies-based teaching

Against the rhetoric of competency-based teaching, I set a rhetoric of teaching strategies which focuses on the resources that students already have rather than on their presumed deficiencies.

7 May 2017 | Tags: Essays, Teaching writing, Teacher-student communication

Stepping stone writing tasks

Writing academic papers is an incredibly involved procedure which brings together many different skills. Often students achieve better results and more confidence about their work when the writing is scaffolded through a series of interconnected steps.

6 May 2017 | Tags: Essays, Teaching writing

The benefits of writing portfolios

My students and I have made positive experiences with writing portfolios. Here’s why.

1 May 2017 | Tags: Essays, Teaching writing

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