Perpetual student

This week I’ve started the Associate Teaching Programme at Loughborough University, to support my work there as a University Teacher. As part of the course, I have to write a reflective journal and, largely to try out the software and get my bearings, I wrote a short piece this evening about my thoughts at the beginning of the programme. I thought I might share it and future journal posts here.

Btw, for those not in the know, TEF stands for ‘Teaching Excellence Framework‘, which the Government is introducing in order to monitor and assess the quality of teaching at higher education institutions. Traditionally, HE teaching staff have generally not required teaching qualifications. That’s all about to change, most likely making it doubly more difficult to secure a permanent contract in academia, especially for early career researchers. Le sigh.

To a large extent, I have all but given up on the academic career I imagined I would have post-PhD. While I have secured several research positions in the six years since I graduated, I have found it impossible to progress my career, especially in the realm of teaching. This has been particularly distressing (no, that isn’t too strong a word) because,while I enjoy research and writing and have built up a solid publications record, it’s the teaching – the imparting of knowledge and skills to others – that I really love.

I was asked, quite out of the blue, last year, to undertake some undergrad dissertation tutoring in the School of the Arts at Loughborough University. Despite the timing being a bit difficult (I had to juggle a full-time postdoctoral research project at the British Library at the same time), it was a fantastic opportunity (and the extra money wasn’t bad either!). The then module leader supported my application to the ATP course. During all my roles at the University of Leicester, I was never eligible to take an HE teaching course (I was never on the right sort of contract) and so the opportunity to do the course, for gratis, was not to be missed! It will boost my CV, give me Associate Fellowship of the HE Academy (essential for TEF, should I wish to return to academia at some point) and will provide me with credit for all the teaching and teaching-related work I’ve undertaken in recent years. It will also lay to rest the ghost of the Post-Compulsory PGCE I started way back in the early 2000s, which, for various reasons I could not finish (not least because my then employer, also the course provider, withdrew support).

Anyway, I’m keen to get started!

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