Engaging with Teaching Support at King’s

Written by Dr Amy Birch 

As a member of research staff at King’s, it’s likely that you are engaged in supporting student learning. You might be doing this via the more traditional routes of tutorials, lectures, and laboratory demonstrations; however, you are also likely to be supporting students in your research environment – supervising undergraduate or postgraduate research projects or co-supervising PhD students.

Some of you may love engaging with students, while for some of you the thought of teaching may leave you in a cold sweat. Regardless of your level of enjoyment or experience, King’s offers a number of different options to support you.

King’s Learning Institute (KLI) support learning and teaching practises across the university. They offer courses for researchers very new to teaching, as well as postgraduate certificates for staff who wish to gain a formal qualification for teaching in higher education. If you are actively teaching at King’s, we recommend that you enrol for Preparing to Teach. Even if you have taught at other universities – this interactive course gives a huge amount of useful information specific to teaching at King’s. KLI have also produced Quick Guides to help staff who are new to teaching.

The Inclusive Education Portal is a fantastic collection of online guidance and resources that are accessible and easy to use. Together with the Inclusive Education Network, they support staff and students to implement and share best inclusive practises to enhance learning.

Have you considered e-learning? Digital education can help you engage more with your students. The Centre for Technology Enhanced Learning offer courses to help you get to grips with KEATS, designing e-learning modules, or create your own digital content. Ever had aspirations to start a podcast or vlog? They can help with that too!

Are you teaching in a health school faculty? You should be logging your teaching hours in the Education Database – not only does this provide information for the faculties about the contribution of staff to undergraduate & postgraduate programmes, it also provides a record of your teaching experience and competencies which can be used in your Professional Development Review. Want to teach but don’t know where to start? If you register your interest in teaching on this database, you can search for teaching availability across all health school faculties. Nb. The database is currently closed but will be opening again in July for staff to record their teaching hours – however you can still register your interest in future opportunities now.

Done all of these things? Great! Now you should consider applying for Higher Education Academy (HEA) professional recognition. Through the Teaching Recognition at King’s programme, you can apply for HEA professional recognition for free. Not only will this provide you with an internationally recognised badge of professional success, it also gives you the opportunity to share good practice with other HEA Fellows and get mentoring support.

Start engaging with these resources to heighten your teaching practices and create a supportive learning environment that fosters your students to fulfil their potential.

Getting Involved with Teaching

Written by Dr Alan Brailsford, Postdoctoral Analyst, Analytical & Environmental Sciences

Working at a university with around 29,000 students it isn’t surprising that the prospect of at least some involvement in teaching will occur during our life as researchers at King’s, and for those of us keen to contribute there is no shortage of opportunities. However, teaching involvement raises certain questions:  How much time can we commit to? How will any extra workload impact on our primary roles (papers, grants etc)? What are the benefits of teaching involvement?

As researchers we are hardly short of things to do during the working day (and frequently beyond), therefore finding additional time to devout to teaching can be difficult. The best way to resolve this conflict would seem to be open conversations with our line managers, to establish what level of teaching commitment can be realistically achieved given our other responsibilities. Such conversations can of course occur at anytime, but perhaps are most appropriate during a PDR. Not only is this the time for current contributions to be acknowledged, but future teaching input for the year ahead can be agreed upon by both parties, and any compromises regarding other responsibilities made (after all, there are only so many hours in the day). For example, the teaching commitment can be outlined as either a percentage of work time, or total hours over the year, therefore taking into account the inevitable fluctuations in the teaching load. Activities can easily be recorded and monitored through the Teaching Database, which has improved over the last few years and something as researchers we should be filling in to officially record our contribution. Furthermore, it maybe that after taking into account your teaching load it is necessary to review other commitments, for instance getting an agreement to push back other deadlines, or to pass on responsibilities.

Given the inevitable impact on other activities it is important that any teaching contribution is both beneficial to the individual and recognised by the university. Personally, I enjoy the interactions with students and seeing them grow and improve of the year I spend with them is highly rewarding. Project supervision while time consuming can be great for getting small projects done that I never quite get round to. Teaching can also be used to gain additional qualifications such as the Postgraduate Certificate in Academic Practise in Higher Education, which not only helps your CV but is beneficial for anyone wishing to pursue a career involving education.

As for recognition, in the longer term universities are increasingly offering career progression based on teaching related activates. More immediately though, recognition needs to come from within the department to those making a contribution, and more widely from the faculty and university, something which I know is being reviewed by King’s at the moment.

So in summary, for those wishing to be involved in teaching, both the opportunities and the benefits are there. But to be maximised successfully time management and establishing realistic expectations and goals are important.