Fifty or sixty people attended the introduction to the New Lecturers Programme today. Biggest intake in my experience. There was a good buzz throughout the day.
This year we quite significantly revised the way the session is run. Less talk from us. More activity for the participants. And a shorter day, as well. Scanning the one-minute essay with which we finished the day suggests participants “got it”.
From a personal perspective, Reducing the number of presenters definitely helped. No greetings from the great. The team got down to it.
The room was crowded but we were able to break people into groups using a card sort activity. The themes on the card related to the topics of the day’s sessions and to the overall thematic constitution of the course:
- reflective practice (Brookfield)
- experiential learning cycles (Kolb)
- good practice principles (Chickering and Gamson)
From a personal perspective I was pleased that the card-sort activity worked as it did. It provided an example of a category of activity that people could adapt to their purposes as well as doing what it needed to do in our context: generate meaningful discussion among practitioners about what it means to teach in higher education.
I was conscious also of using speaker techniques to manage time and attention. Raising my hand to wait for quiet. Not always simply shouting.
Debbie’s session was perfectly judged. She opened by denigrating theory. I always try to keep off of theory, she said. This got everyone relaxed and non-threatened. She then talked about paradigm shifts in higher education, massification and commodification of learning; i.e. critical theory of education. This was laced with personal experience and anecdotes going back to her mum and dad who were teachers.
I feel I should have given Greg and Frances more explicit roles. Neil and Debbie had slots. Rather, I should have been clearer about how the tutors’ facilitating role could have worked, particularly around the elicitation of feedback from the Card-sort activity. Things to learn for next time.