University Teaching Fellows – Reflecting on the community by Katja Strohfeldt

With the start of the new academic year it is always a good idea to reflect on current practices and plan the year ahead. As the incoming chair for the Community of Practice (CoP) of University Teaching Fellows (UTF) I found myself reflecting on the identity and the purpose of this group.

What is the Community of Practice of UTFs?

It could be summarised as a growing community of staff members (academic and non-academic) who are enthusiastic about varying aspects of teaching, innovation and excellence. The University recognises each year a number of staff members for their excellent work in the area of T&L by appointing new UTFs.

Many congratulation to the new University Teaching fellows 2016-17, who recently joined the community:

  • Dr Laura Bennett – School of Law
  • Dr Philippa Cranwell – School of Chemistry, Food & Pharmacy
  • Dr Andrew Charlton-Perez – School of Mathematical & Physical Sciences
  • Dr Rhianedd Smith – University Museums & Special Collections Services
  • Dr Rachel Pye – School of Psychology & Clinical Language Sciences

I was actually thinking back to the time when I joined the group and we started having regular CoP lunch meetings, where there were only a handful of us meeting for a sandwich lunch (yes I am so long at the University already). It makes me feel very proud being part of a community which has grown quickly – in number and reputation. One of the strengths is its community spirit – everyone is able to draw on each other’s knowledge and experience from areas across the University. We meet in an informal setting and it is a great way to meet new people from across the University and make contacts.

What is my steer for the coming year?

Following on from my excellent predecessor Helen Hathaway – Helen thank you very much for being an excellent chair to the community – I decided to have an overarching theme for this academic year. I would like to explore further how the University utilises their UTF community and how we can give the group more of an identity and input in strategic areas. For this reason I have invited Prof Gavin Brooks (PVC for T&L) to our first meeting in the autumn term in order to give us a platform to discuss how the Senior Management Board sees our role. I hope that more detailed plans come out from this meeting, but the spring term meeting certainly sees the launch of the new UTF application process, with the summer term meeting welcoming our new colleagues.

Are you interested in becoming a UTF?

If you are interested in applying to the UTF scheme than I would suggest that you plan ahead. Have a look at the application form and identify areas where small tweaks might make a great impact. At this time of the year, you might be able to adjust your teaching or achievements in a way that you can apply to the UTF scheme with confidence. I suggest you get in touch with CQSD sooner rather than later and see if you can be matched with a mentor – this is another great way to meet new people. The new scheme will start off with a showcase lunchtime session, but I suggest you start thinking about it now and you are always welcome to also contact me.

Details of the 2017 UTF scheme will be announced in the new year.

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