When I began the reflective practice for the senior fellow status of the Higher Education Academy I bought an empty picture frame in anticipation of hanging the certificate in my office. This indicated two things to me: firstly, that I thought I was ready and secondly, that the recognition was important to me. I am grateful for having engaged in this reflective practice because, if I am honest, I probably would not otherwise have taken the time out to remember, digest and integrate the steps I have taken as I gradually developed my teaching practice over the years. Even being informed by pedagogical research, improvement of my teaching methods has very much been an experiential affair and trial and error has certainly played its part. I have found it helpful to regroup and articulate what has worked well for me, such as introducing action learning methods as a dynamic technique to encourage student discussions. It was worth me taking note of how animated the students were when I invited them to perform a Mexican wave demonstration of the electrocardiogram. It has also been beneficial to recall what has not worked so well and to put the ridiculous moments down to experience.
What I really enjoyed about this reflective exercise was that it triggered me to have more conversations with colleagues about teaching and learning. I like to feel part of a team and sharing success stories with other teaching colleagues created a sense of camaraderie which I wish to continue. This also helped me to crystalize my style of influence which is to share teaching anecdotes, both triumph and failure alike.
One realisation from the first tutorial I ran was that I wanted to be a good teacher and as gained more teaching experience I started working towards my fellow status of the Higher Education Academy. That desire grew and became a passion to be an outstanding educator in higher education. Achieving the senior fellow status is an outside validation which brought a sense of confirmation and a rise in confidence that I have been on the right track all these years and I had not bought the picture frame for nothing!
I now have the certificate up on my office wall. The senior fellow status has raised the profile of my teaching practice in the department and my contribution to the degree programmes in the College of Life Sciences. The kudos is important to me because it has given me a burst of energy to continue exploring new ways to challenge my students in their learning and engage my colleagues in their teaching. Although I did not realise it at the time of writing my case studies, recalling my memories and recounting what I had learned on my teaching journey has given me a professional joy in knowing I made the most of my abilities. I found the process of reflection to be a good way to honour all the teaching efforts I have made over the years. Upon reflection, the reflective process of applying for senior fellow status of the Higher Education Academy has had the effect of clearing the decks, making way for new teaching and learning experiences and for me that is of great value.
For more information about HEA Fellowship please click here.