Report on the “A conversation with successful NTFs” webinar

This blog has been contributed by Prof Debbie Holley, Events Officer on the ANTF Committee, who has organised our roadshow events for aspiring NTF and CATE winners this year. Here she reports from this webinar, in November 2020.

Image shows a Zoom meeting, featuring five female and two male presenters from the webinar event
The ‘rogues gallery’ from the webinar! The event was facilitated by Debbie Holley (centre top). Guest presenters were Professor Sally Brown (bottom right; @ProfSallyBrown), Dr Steve Briggs (bottom left; @drstevebriggs), and Beatriz Acevedo, (bottom centre; @beatrizacevedoX) . Support from Advance HE came from Leonie (top left), Dan Amin (top right), and Karen Hustler (centre). Thanks to everyone!

The Association for National Teaching Fellows (ANTF) and AdvanceHE collaborated to run this national webinar for aspiring National Teaching Fellows. Fully booked with 65 participants and a waiting list, this session offered a brief re-cap of the scheme and highlighted updates; the AdvanceHE pages have the forms, links to great videos and lots more.

This time we concentrated on what the evidence can be for the three main criterion; and explored this through the lens of our three panel guests.

A) individual excellence

B) raising the profile of excellence

C) developing excellence

Dr Steve Briggs shared his journey as a Professional Services member of staff at the University of Bedford, and showcased how he set about identifying an issue in the sector, where learning developers are seen as ‘betwixt and between’ and not ‘fitting in’ terms of recognition and reward in terms of University staff recognition pathways.  He set about challenging and changing this, through working with the Association for Learning Developer in HE (ALDinHE) by leading change and developing their own national framework for the Certified Practitioner (CeP) and Certified Leading Practitioner (CeLP) awards.

Dr Beatrix Acevedo, Creative Oracle and lecturer in sustainability at Anglia Ruskin University, based in their Business School challenged all of our preconceptions with her journey of seeking more creative ways to communicate her teaching passion! Her main message was to create an individual authentic and personal narrative that reflects across the three areas of ‘excellence’.

And Professor Sally Brown, one of the award co-founders added, in her own wonderful style:

‘shy bairns get nowt’ analogy – for non-Geordies,  this means if you don’t write about it, we don’t know you have done it! Key message is to step up, explain what you have done, the impact of this for yourself, for others and say why it matters..

Sally has some excellent resources, including a very detailed powerpoint about what counts as evidence on her blog. We concluded by encouraging participants to think about mentors, teams and collaborations as their way forward.

The full recording is available here (passcode v&&fZw8B)

Thanks as ever to the AdvanceHE team, Leonie, Dan Amin and Karen Hustler

Debbie Holley, on behalf of the Association for National Teaching Fellows (ANTF)


Webinar three: 3rd December 2020 “Institutional/Individual perspectives”

This webinar will briefly re-cap the previous two sessions, and the panel will include a representative from those tasked with staff development in our institutions, to offer the institutional viewpoint about the scheme, as well as NTFs happy to share their experiences. We will record and blog.

3rd December 2020 1-2pm (currently full with a waiting list in operation)

Educators in lockdown: Skills skills skills!

This week, we will feature a series of blogs from Professor Susan Smith, Associate Director, Centre for Learning and Teaching, at Leeds Beckett University. Susan first shared her findings and reflections on educating in a lockdown back in May; in this fourth instalment, she reflects on how everyone has developed new skills – social as well as technical. You can find Monday’s introductory blog here, Tuesday’s instalment on lockdown working as a ‘messy business but getting tidier’ here, and Wednesday’s blog about coping better here.

Head shot picture of Susan Smith

Some members of our team light heartedly mentioned their rusting social skills as we lost opportunistic corridor chats, office friendships and missing the feel of being part of, for now, a whole- university campus.

We have, though, gained other new skills in spades though some felt that this did not compensate. When I reviewed the vocabulary used about the range of skills that colleagues said they’d learnt since the beginning of lockdown, it revealed that initial technical glitches and low confidence have now morphed into more active skill development. We have developed between us a range of nuanced skills- online collaboration, team and project management, time management, prioritisation and looking at new ways to be much more creative and engaging in teaching and in support roles. We have fostered brand new collaborative projects (which seemed lost for ever in the spring) and these are also now emerging from academic staff in the Schools as reinvigorated research and practice enhancement ideas.

We have redesigned our annual pedagogic project funding programme which is now going to focus entirely on ways to improve the online and blended learning environment.

We all want to get better at developing skills which emotionally engage colleagues and students online. We have all noticed (and have figures to support it) how student numbers are increasing in lectures and staff numbers are increasing at meetings and educational development workshops which were patchily attended in the past. It’s easier to fit in meeting or a lecture when you don’t have to travel, find a room and worry whether by it overrunning, you’ll get home in good time. We find attendance is strong with the new blended and online approach, but we still expressed concerns that we don’t really know how students and staff colleagues are really engaging when their cameras are off– does it matter? They are adults and they are consumers, the use of the camera is their choice …That said, we must get better at supporting our staff to help our students to engage with learning sessions as actively as possible, to build online project groups, contribute, and have fun.   The same can be said of staff -only meetings- how can we encourage new voices to contribute beyond the conversation panel.  Maybe these typed panel conversation comments are the new voices from shyer colleagues who disliked speaking up in large face to face events and meetings. We have learnt that it is important to take these typed comments seriously and diligently note and absorb them.

Professor Susan Smith, Associate Director, Centre for Learning & Teaching, Leeds Beckett University


Introducing…Steve Briggs

The Committee of the Association of National Teaching Fellows with CATE are absolutely delighted to welcome Dr Steve Briggs to the team. Here’s an introduction to Steve, and his plans for CANTF…in his own words. Welcome, Steve!

I am Head of Professional and Academic Development (PAD) at the University of Bedfordshire where I manage a team of Learning Developers. My team support students to enhance their academic skills, literacies and practices with a specific focus on writing, maths, study skills and ICT. The PAD team provide a range of extracurricular student support (including drop-in, 1:1 appointments and online materials). They also work in partnership with course teams to develop and deliver targeted and contextualised learning development opportunities (such as workshops and webinars).   

I have Chartered Psychologist status from the British Psychological Society. Prior to this, I was awarded a PhD (examining how university life events impact on student career decidedness and professional development), a MSc in Applied Psychology and a BSc in Psychology. I was awarded a National Teaching Fellowship in 2020 and Principal Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy status in 2018.   

I am also currently Co-Chair of the Association for Learning Development in Higher Education (ALDinHE) and have specific responsibility for professional development activities. My main contributions to ALDinHE have been leading the development of a recognition scheme for Learning Development Practitioners and establishing ALDinHE regional networking events. I am currently co-leading the introduction of mentoring opportunities for Learning Developers.   

I am passionate about teaching and learning and particularly interested in how excellence can be promoted and recognised amongst individuals within professional learning services (such as Learning Developers, Learning Technologists and Librarians). I am delighted to join the Committee of the Association for NTF, with CATE and am really looking forward to building new connections within members of the NTF and CATE communities.  

Looking forward, I will be working with the ANTF Equality, Diversity and Inclusvity Officers to explore professional learning service under-representation amongst NTF/CATE winners. Please get in touch if you work in a learning service and would like to discuss participation barriers or make suggestions for how the ANTF could provide more tailored application support.   

Dr Steve Briggs | Head of Professional and Academic Development, University of Bedfordshire

PhD, MSc, BSc, CPsychol, NTF, PFHEA, AFBPsS, ALDinHE Certified Leading Practitioner.