Monday, 19 December 2016

The end of Fellowship?

This is the final part of my series of blog posts on gaining Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy.

If you’ve already read last week’s post you’ll know that I have completed my FHEA accreditation portfolio. I am very happy about this. Students and other staff may not know or care about it but it is a process I have found valuable and if it is accepted (I find out in February) then I will get a few extra letters after my name.

At the beginning of 2016, I decided to look into what gaining accreditation for my teaching involved. As my confidence had taken a nose-dive after various personal issues, I felt I needed to ‘prove’ myself again.

Rather than repeat everything I’ve done for it, here are a few links to the process I went through:
  • Embarking on Fellowship: More reasons as to why I started the process, an outline of the different types of accreditation the Higher Education Academy provides and the various route my institution provides to gain the award.
  • Choosing an FHEA mentor: I was required to have a mentor who was absolutely marvellous. This post covers what traits are required in a mentor and how I chose mine.
  • FHEA progress to date: Reflective Assessment Portfolio. I was required to write and collate a portfolio. This post contains information about what that consisted of and a more detailed look at the core knowledge and professional values I needed to demonstrate across the five small and two large case studies, as well as the professional development plan.
  • Technologies, peer-assisted learning, FHEA case studies...with a touch of Frost. This post goes into more detail about the two larger case studies submitted in the portfolio. The workshops were observed by academics at my institution, one of whom was my mentor. They offered feedback on improvements and used them to inform the references they provided – another requirement of the accreditation.

While it’s felt like quite a long process, I actually completed it ahead of my deadline by three months. As I took the Open route the deadline is chosen by the participant rather than the institution so there was no need to set this particular time – although it does feel nice to have submitted before Christmas.

So, these are the advantages I've found in doing this:

Accreditation – The award and the letters show to others that I currently teach to the standard set by the Higher Education Academy. If I wish to continue working in ‘teaching and learning’, which I do, then this is a useful addition to my CV.

A closer relationship with the members of staff - A member of an academic division has observed a workshops, offered improvements and written me a glowing reference. Another has mentored me for the last nine months and she is now more aware of what my work involves. She has been incredible in her support. She also observed a workshop and provided an amazing reference. I generally find it quite challenging to accept help but this has encouraged me to do that.

Putting my own work into context – Teaching is a large percentage of my role:I deliver inductions for new students; workshops and lectures for a range of Social Science cohorts; mindfulness workshops, and social media workshops to faculty and students.I also co-ordinate and promote my workplace’s digital literacy programme. I am generally up to date with most of what’s happening in the education sector, however, this has been a timely reminder to remain aware of the impact of external factors on the way I enable students to learn. 

Ultimately, I think it has been worth the effort for the reasons above and because it has helped me to regain some of my confidence. Of course, the point of doing this is to keep improving and learning, so it’s not the end and I'm looking forward to developing further.

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