When I submitted an application for LEaD fellowship coaching I’m not sure I really knew what to expect. What I asked for was support to develop interactive teaching for larger groups of students. What I got was Dilly. Having chatted to Anise over coffee, to discuss options, she matched me with Dilly as my main coach, to provide the support to meet my objectives (see https://blogs.city.ac.uk/learningatcity/2016/07/20/lead-fellows-coaching/#.V5IsCLgrK7Q). After an initial telephone conversation with Dilly about my role, teaching experience and expectations she arranged to come to a lecture and observe me. Before the call ended though, she had already got by brain “ticking away” with new ideas of how I could improve engagement further.
During the first teaching observation, I was really nervous, aware that Dilly was scribbling far more notes that any student in the room! After the session we went through the notes, reflecting on specific aspects of the session and Dilly provided her expert view on some of the points and lots of advice on additional ways to manage the groups. Two more sessions later Dilly said I was ready to develop and reflect on my own teaching.
What did I learn?
I learnt so many things in such a short space of time. Initially, despite me thinking the sessions were interactive there was a long way to go. Dilly set objectives for me to move to 50 : 50 student interaction : me talking, then finally 80 : 20, which I did achieve in the 3rd session.
Other key tips and learning included:
- Setting expectations so that students knew they would be expected to engage in activities and feedback
- Using pairs and small group discussions, with role cards, where appropriate, to focus students to think about different aspects of an issue.
- Clear transitioning between topics in a session helps students focus.
- Settle and stir: maximum of 10-20 minutes of students sitting listening. Then activities or engagement with learning.
- Asking students to re-cap on two things they have learnt at the end of the session.
- Praise students consistently for their contributions.
- More “Blue Peter” moments have already begun. I’ve made role cards for two sessions and am planning a “speed dating” session for the induction course, where students will have to explain an ultrasound term to a colleague. I’m not sure how I will cope when Ron Richardson retires, as he has been so supportive of my many mad-cap ideas.
- Getting over my fear of missing “teaching” something. If students are engaging in learning, thinking for themselves and making connections whilst engaging in the learning process they will probably leave a session with more information than if I tried to cover more material in a less engaging way.
- Engaging peers in the learning process more, by inviting second year Pg students to meet new students.
Having met with the other LEaD fellows for an action learning set, it was clear that we have all developed both personally and professionally from the experience. I am really grateful to LEaD for the opportunity, Anise for her tireless work supporting us during this project and Dilly for pushing me to provide sessions that have, in her words the “wow factor”!
Now the hard work comes, re-visiting every session I have ever taught!