Developing “Safe” Spaces to discuss Teaching

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I recently attended the second HEA “Beyond Fellowship” Conference (March 13 2017 at Aston University), an event primarily for those supporting accredited routes for gaining HEa Fellowship recognition. I’m going to share some of the topics and issues that arose from that event.


At the conference Keynote, Mandy Asghar, PFHEA at York St. John’s University shared some of the benefits of offering a dialogic route to seeking HEA Fellowship recognition (all categories).  Resources can be found on the York St John website. Mandy presented a substantial range of literature (V3) supporting the value of dialogue.  This was reiterated by rich comments from participants in the research that she and Ruth Pilkington, PFHEA (now an independent consultant) have been conducting.  Dialogue, as opposed to a written submission can greatly enrich and empower the person talking about their teaching and/or support for student learning (all aspects of the UK PSF intertwine), building their self-esteem that their contributions are valued.  However, dialogue needs to be carefully managed, ensuring trust and psychological safety for the individual ‘laying bare’ their practice, and feeling secure that making mistakes and taking risks is acceptable – its all about pushing the boundaries of enhancing practice and your own personal and professional development.  Dialogue is great to slow down, something that we often ironically in our busy lives don’t have time to do!

SALT’s remit is to enhance the value of teaching and promote a community of practice. We do that through a variety of seminars, Case Studies and supporting research. By doing so we aim to promote your CPD (A5 of the UK PSF) and also encourage your use of evidence-informed approaches to your practice (V3).

The value of being able to discuss openly about one’s practice has been greatly recognised through those on the PGCert. Here’s also what they do at Leeds. This also reminded me that the HEA website has blogs about Talking Teaching and why people have applied to get recognition of their practice. A quick Internet search on sharing about learning and teaching revealed this abstract for a Conference about sharing best practice. It recognises that we can be very different in how we access information – Twitter and Tweet Chats, face to face, watching videos, webinars, virtual meetings, reading, but I would argue that as social animals, we do all like to get to meet up eventually- the most effective part of conferences is often the networking and not necessarily the talks themselves (in the case of the HEA BF conference, the talks were however very good and so will be the sessions at this year’s SALT Conference!).

So, how can we develop a “safe space” in which you can come to share your ideas about teaching and supporting learning in a constructive way? Where, how in your busy schedule could we enable this? There’s Hoffi Coffi for Welsh learners. Can we have a “Talk Teaching” regular meeting on each campus? What could encourage you to come along? What can SALT do for you?

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