Teaching and the student experience are interlocked. This paper takes a personal look at the pleasures and pressures of teaching in contemporary higher education. In doing so it adds to the definition of teachers’ work in higher education, surveys some of the creative and positive sides of University teaching and shines a light upon the impact of increased commercialisation and managerial approaches upon academic work. It focuses upon the teaching and learning activities that academics undertake in the service of the university, including the research that adds to and updates their own knowledge, and hence underpins their teaching, so as to enable and enrich the learning journeys of their students. This paper has been written as a personal narrative, as what I have come to call a ‘subjective academic narrative’. The ‘subjective’ refers to acknowledgement of the inevitability of the personal being an integral part of research; the ‘academic’ refers to the analytical and the intellectual ambience in which university research takes place; and the ‘narrative’ refers to the story, that is, the way in which we re-tell all of our research. Above all, this paper contributes to a sense of understanding some of the elements of teaching that are involved in student engagement.