In this new ‘Spotlight on Practice Worth Sharing‘, Teaching Matters will be sharing blog posts based on a new initiative that invites colleagues to attend lunchtime sessions aimed at promoting discussion and sharing information on teaching related practice. Whilst the sessions are based at the Moray House School of Education and Sport, anyone across the University is invited to attend, and the topics are related to learning and teaching in all disciplines. In this post, Dr Paul Kelly and Dr Deb Holt, describe how they set up this initiative…
The ‘Practice Worth Sharing’ (PWS) initiative is a School Quality Enhancement and Assurance activity that emerged in response to both College and School directives on good teaching practice. The PWS Working Group was formed in spring 2019 and aims to:
- Create a space to share teaching experiences of people working within and beyond Moray House School of Education and Sport;
- Collaboratively build and develop our collective teaching practice.
After much discussion about format and approach, we agreed to try fortnightly sessions of 30 minutes in duration during semester. The goal was to be low-burden in terms of time commitment, but with the option of staying longer for those who wished to continue the discussions after the 30-minute mark. We considered online and recorded video approaches, but felt much of this already exists at School and College level and wanted to provide opportunity for ongoing face-to-face discussion and learning. Our goal was to foster an environment where “communities of practice” could develop.
The name for our sessions was also debated. The traditional choice would have been “Sharing Good Practice”. However, we wanted to avoid dichotomous notions of “good” and “bad” practice, and did not want the sessions to be a “show and tell” from experts. We wanted them to be a space where people could share challenges, difficulties, and real-time problems which could then be discussed and considered. Whilst a popular name was “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly of HE Practice”, unfortunately this did not make the final cut.
For more details please see the QEA webpages.
Session 1: Mental Health Promotion in Higher Education
We had our first session of the semester in Week 1 (17 Sept 2019). In this first session, led by Deborah Holt, we looked at the importance of mental health promotion in higher education.
This is a topic Deb has written about previously in a Teaching Matters blog post.
Deb talked about ethos and leadership, and that action was needed at multiple levels within the University. She also emphasised that promoting mental health this is more than “fixing things when they go wrong” but also about promoting well-being and positive mental health. This was in relation to both promoting mental health in students and staff.
We then discussed what we can do in our own practice. One action for students’ mental well-being that was well received was to use 5-10 mins at the end of a course/programme to ask them to collate well-being advice for the incoming students, specifically on things that would enhance resilience and coping. For staff, the timing and queuing of emails was considered important, as was the good old-fashioned regular communal cup of tea. All agreed that leadership and modelling was critical to creating a supportive environment for mental health promotion.
The sessions are aimed at all staff and research students involved with teaching in Moray House School of Education and Sport, whether academic, support, technical or professional staff and we hope you can attend whenever possible. However, we would welcome colleagues from across the College and University if they were keen to join us as well. And we would be delighted to take suggestions for future topics from anyone with an interest in “Practice Worth Sharing”.
The upcoming sessions in Semester 1 are: