What it means to me to be a National Teaching Fellow by Helen Bilton & Professor Julian Park

By Helen Bilton, Institute of Education (NTFS 2012)

I had never heard of the National Teaching Fellowship Scheme, nor the University Teaching Fellowships, until a colleague who had achieved the status of University Teaching Fellow came and talked to our research group about the achievement. I actually was having a very bad day and missed the talk and arrived in a foul mood not knowing what anyone was talking about! When the meeting had finished Carol turned to me and said ‘you should apply for that Helen you have done so much with students’. I didn’t think much more about it until she sent through the information. I wouldn’t normally have bothered but the encouragement from this colleague, who also said ‘what have you got to lose’ was enough for me to say ‘go for it’. To say I was gobsmacked when I was told I had achieved the status of Early Career Teaching Fellow was to say an understatement.  When the opportunity came around to apply for the more heady status of National Teaching Fellow having been encouraged initially by Carol gave me the impetus to say to myself ‘why not?’.

Moral of the story: there are always people about who think a lot of themselves! But there are so many people who are brilliant but never think to shout about it. We all need to keep a look out and shout about our colleagues’ achievements. Without my colleague being aware of and happy to help me, I would not have become a National Teaching Fellow. I now look out for others and say ‘go for it’. If all of us could encourage one person, that would be a lot of people being acknowledged.

Being an Early Career Teaching Fellow meant I was exposed to some really nice people-always a bonus! It also meant I became more involved and felt more a part of the University. I came into contact with some amazing people across the University, many of whom I’d not met before. Being a Fellow has meant I feel even more confident about what I do with students; some of the things I have done are ‘creative’ and ‘a bit out of the box’ and the achievement has encouraged me to realise my beliefs are correct. It has also meant my passion for the last 33 years-children playing and learning outside has been recognised.

By Professor Julian Park, FDTL Life Sciences (NTFS 2008)

As a committed educator I applied for a University Teaching Fellowship because I believe it is a key route to ensure high quality teaching and learning is promoted within the University. The award provided funding to develop the engage in feedback website, which is now used internationally.  My UTFS award quickly led to the opportunity to apply for a National Teaching Fellowship, which I was delighted to receive in 2008. As well as providing a great opportunity to network with like-minded individuals, it was a useful additional piece of evidence to support my promotion to Professor in 2010. Collaborations with other National Teaching Fellows has led to the award of £200k for the Enhancing Fieldwork Learning project, which is still on-going.

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