After completing my PhD in 2006 from Lancaster University, I took up a full time lectureship post in the Accounting and Finance department. Due to a change in personal circumstances, and a strong interest in enhancing my pedagogical practice, I moved to a ‘Teaching Fellow’ contract. Last year when I started to prepare my promotion case for ‘Senior Teaching Fellow’, it became apparent that having SFHEA status would help support my case. I had already gained Fellowship status through completing a Postgraduate Certificate in Academic Practice (PGCAP).
I have always embraced opportunities to develop my knowledge and professional skills in teaching and leadership. The Senior Fellowship journey allowed me to review of my own educational practice and how it has shaped the way I lead and influence others in relation to teaching and learning. The thirst to learn and then share innovations has been with me since my doctoral days. Fundamental to my progression has been continuous critical reflection of my practice, including ways to use those insights to become a better educator, leader and colleague. By critically reflecting has enabled me to position myself as an individual teacher within the wider frames and concerns of my department, discipline and institution, and to advance my professional achievements and aspirations. Having invested in my academic and professional development, I believe this will consequently enhance the experience of my students and colleagues in Higher Education.
Although I have reflected on my teaching approach in previous developmental courses, I never previously had to articulate the principles or values that underpin my teaching approach. However, having had the time to reflect, I found they were congruent to the values of my institution, which probably explains why I have happily worked here for as long as I have. These values have evolved organically through personal experience and cascade down into all my approaches to teaching.
Through my reflection, it was also interesting to note how the type of challenges I face in my teaching have evolved over the years. In my early years as an educator, I struggled in dealing with disruptive students, dealing with negative feedback, over-investing in my preparation for teaching, feeling overwhelmed and the pacing of my lectures. Through experience and appropriate training, I have been able to address these challenges and guide others on good practice. I would admit that I still find it difficult to take a strict approach to students who fail to engage in their academic studies. I feel as an educator, there is only so much we can do and students must take responsibility for their actions.
An observation - in previous developmental courses there is a normally a dynamic forum for a group of ‘educators’ who share ideas and develop a discourse through which to reflect upon their teaching, learning and practice and to challenge each other’s thinking in a supportive and committed environment. During this journey I felt the reflection was more ‘closed’ with more emphasis on introspective reflection.
I am extremely grateful to the reviewers of my case and the extremely detailed and constructive feedback I received from them. Not only did their splendid acknowledgement of my contribution leave me blushing, but their thoughtful advice on how I take my professional development forward was extremely encouraging and inspiring.
Dr Sayjda Talib is a Senior Teaching Fellow in the Accounting and Finance Department at Lancaster University. She is also the Programme Director on the Business Management Degree and Dean of Graduate College.