This was the first time I saw my new cohort starting the Learning and Teaching in Higher Education module of the PGCAP. It is always exciting to welcome colleagues on the programme.
Context: The purpose of this session was to discuss the use of portfolios on the programme, familiarise students with the tool but also enable individuals to start getting to know each other. The majority of the students were there, which was really good. For individuals who couldn’t make it to the session, the plan is to buddy them up with others who were there so that they can help catch up and build the portfolio together if there are difficulties.
What did I learn? We need to allow for more peer learning. Nobody is a blank sheet. Collectively we can contribute and co-create knowledge and understanding and develop skills too. I am pleased that I used this approach. And while for me, it wasn’t a question of not using this approach, I was interested in how my students would re-act. Did they expect me to tell them everything? Did they want to see a flashy Powerpoint presentation? Would be interesting to find out what their expectations were and how my approach made them feel… and if it worked for them.
How did I feel? Well, I am always excited welcoming a new group! But also nervous, as I have no idea how individuals will feel and/or what they will think about me and my approach. Am I like Marmite? Sometimes, I have noticed that it takes people time to understand why I do things the way I do them. I have to say here that I challenge myself as well and experiment with different ideas and approaches and I know that some might not work. I see myself as a learner too and a peer on this programme. So I know that I am here to learn and my students will be one of the source to make this happen through the interactions, conversations and collaborations we will have during the module. I see this programme as a greenhouse. It provides a safe and supportive space to be experimental and creative, for tutors and students, and as such we will all be challenged and stretched and encouraged to reflect on what works and what doesn’t and see mistakes as opportunities to learn and enrich practices.
What would I do differently? Well, I have a problem with the space we used! We were in the basement. No natural light. No windows. The temperature was going up and down. Desks arranged in rows. Next time, I need to think about finding a more suitable location. At the moment I am thinking about asking students to bring their own laptop and meet in a bright location around campus where we could also have some food and drinks and have more flexibility in learning together.
A big thank you to Cheryl Dunleavy and Alex Fenton who helped me during this session. Their help made a real difference to the student experience and enabled everybody to make a good start with their PGCAP portfolio.
At the end of the session I was asked the following question which I would like to share with you: “So, do I have to reflect from now on, on my practice?” What would you say to this person? Feel free to comment here.