Musings on supporting new lecturers

After a very thought provoking joint #LTHEchat #HEAchat on Wednesday evening I decided to set myself some actions.

Ensure all new lecturers are assigned a learning and teaching mentor, and make sure the mentor gets the appropriate training and support

We assign buddies that help all new staff find their feet and mentors once a new lecturer starts the PG Cert but what about the interim or if they don’t do the PG Cert straight away. Thinking about who is the mentor is important to, someone who has gone through the process recently and who the new lecturer will feel they are able to ask what they feel might be silly questions. Making sure that the mentor has the appropriate skills via training and support is also key to success.

Finish the New to Lecturing Survival Guide

Everyone is super keen to provide support to new lecturers at the beginning of the semester but as the new lecturer gets into the swing of things they can get forgotten and nobody tells them about the double marking procedure or something similar! One of the ideas from the #LTHEchat #HEAchat was a survival guide. I am already preparing a 10 topic guide on Moodle to support new lecturers and so have decided to rename it – a survival guide. Why online? Not all lecturers start at the same time to attend a face to face programme. Also it will provide a great resource to go back to.

Promote learning and teaching community within and outside the institution

At every institution I have worked at I have rapidly felt part of a disciplinary or departmental community but what about a learning and teaching community. These should be across the whole institution. We tried to promote ours by meeting in a physical place but finding a convenient time led to problems. So now even within the institution it has become an online community, sharing ideas via email and making use of the @writtleL_and_T twitter account. New lecturers also need to be aware of wider learning and teaching community outside the institution and what better way to begin than through taking part in the #LTHEchat and #HEAchat.

Make use of the new ideas and innovations that new lecturers bring

Listen to how new lecturers challenge conventional wisdom. I remember my own frustration as a new lecturer when told I could not add interactive learning activities to the VLE as students wouldn’t use them. But it also reminds me of an interview I heard with Prof. Peter Higgs on the radio. His research that led to the naming of the Higgs boson was possible because he had completed his PhD in a different area and the subject conventions (what people thought were already knowns) were easier for him to challenge. The same applies to teaching. Ideas and theories need to continue to evolve and we need to remember that new lecturers can often be the source!

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