Gaining teaching experience

The teaching catch-22

How do you get experience of teaching when you haven't any experience of teaching? How can you turn yourself into a departmental teaching resource that helps your professional development in turn? Here are some suggestions:

Identify

  1. Who can you approach in your department to discuss your professional development in terms of learning and teaching?
  2. Where do you think you can you make a contribution?
  3. What, exactly, can you offer?
  4. It pays to have thought about this before you: 

Ask

There are often opportunities for team or substitute teaching, where your support in a learning context may be valued. Examples here would include laboratory classes, problems classes, small group teaching classes and tutorials. There are plenty of examples in the University where research staff are active in a support role.

Observe as much as you can

Sitting in on a taught session can be very rewarding in terms of preparing yourself for teaching.

  1. What kinds of activities go on?
  2. How do the tutors respond?
  3. What are the important differences between lecture settings and small group teaching like tutorials?
  4. How is learning supported (as opposed to information delivered, for example)?
  5. Ask a teaching colleague if you can observe their teaching - but respect their offer, it's not an appraisal.

Reflect

Teaching is a complex activity. The best tutors are reflective practitioners who think critically about their teaching experiences in order to improve them.  Use the experiences described above to sharpen your ideas about teaching and (especially) the quality of the student learning experience. There is also some great advice in the 12 key lecturing skills (PDF, 674kB) eBook developed by Jobs.ac.uk which includes tips around Lecture Preparation, Innovative Teaching Techniques and Tutoring Advice

Finally

Enrol on a programme that will help you gain confidence and structure your development. The CREATE (Cultivating Research and Teaching Excellence) CPD scheme provides academics with an opportunity to focus on their learning and teaching practice alongside developing their research/scholarship and leadership skills as they progress in the University.

There are CREATE scheme routes and levels available for academic staff at all stages of their careers and there are a limited number of places for Research staff to have the opportunity to enrol on level 1 standard route. Each level leads to recognition with the Higher Education Academy, aligned to the UK Professional Standards Framework (UKPSF).

Teaching Expectations for Research Staff

The University of Bristol recognises and values the significant contribution that research staff make to teaching, assessment and supervision of our undergraduate and postgraduate students. The opportunity to teach is not only beneficial to research staff themselves in terms of career development but represents a valuable opportunity to Schools to make use of their skills, to allow more flexibility within the academic workforce and to enhance the experience for students by exposing them to a wider diversity of the academic community.

Teaching responsibilities are included within all of the individual role profiles at each level on pathway 2 and research staff are encouraged to engage in these where there is opportunity. However, it is important that these are managed appropriately within their wider workload and with reference to the terms and conditions of their funding. The University has an obligation to ensure that Research staff are appropriately trained, supported and mentored to carry out these responsibilities at all levels.

To read the policy in full please visit the Education Regulations, Policy and Guidance website.