Tuesday, 26 January 2016


Time to embrace, and stop analysing!
So, Ive thrown myself into the research.
Some of the material feels like its obfuscating some very basic information for the sake of terminology, but actually, much of the anecdotal info is very interesting...

One thing, in the research to date, is that i can see already that engagement from students is a big issue.  How does one make them open up during class and participate?
Thats a very interesting area, because students, if left alone, will sit and listen and then file out at the end.
Reading some of the support materials and seeing some of the exercises suggested prompted me into trying my own exercise last week.
I got the students to do "25 words or less on their favourite film" and they had to then nominate a class mate to do the same.
It got everyone engaged a bit more I feel.
The test will be to then deliver some teaching and see if the number of hands or questions increases AFTER such an exercise.
I will build this into the next lecture i deliver and aim to film that lecture too to see how that goes.

the challenge

The initial thinking is to present my active learning session presentation on the challenges of adapting a theoretical framework to a “production” led film course and the emphasis on practice-based learning rather than the more academic framework.
Also, the course recruits (me, as a case in point) production-based personnel, and de-emphasises academic qualification, so the learning curve is very steep.  much of the language is quite alien to me and as such its quite difficult to find ways to latch-on to that style of thinking.

Its fair to say theres a dichotomy here. I “have” to be academically qualified to teach - and I accept that I have to learn pedagogical skills in order to facilitate learning in students, but in doing so its forcing me to re-invent my teaching style- which was always looser and based on student results - successful!  So there is a feeling of “should I be messing with my teaching style” for the sake of a qualification?

Of course, one must temper this with the fact that it would be naive and a little irresponsible of me to assume that its “my way or the highway”!  especially, when many of the teaching models discussed have proven success, and its incumbent on me to become a better teacher, by virtue of the fact that i signed up to be a full-time teacher.

I think I have to get over this reticence, and also academic fear that i have, and learn to embrace it.  I think my concern is that I would be doing it to tick a box and not because I have a genuine desire to improve my teaching skills.  I know thats controversial to say that out loud, but is a genuine feeling.

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Losing confidence

One of the things I'm interested in exploring, and this is quite surprising to me, is my loss of confidence in teaching ability.
Strangely enough, its linked with me becoming a full time lecturer.
I think being a HPL carried a large degree of freedom.  To the students you're a rock star who drifts in and drifts out and does their own thing.
Much less responsibility.

Becoming a full time member of staff I find myself questioning what i do and reflecting on my teaching style.  Am I impacting on the students and are they retaining material?
I think, much of it goes to who I am as a person.  i do push myself very hard and want to excel at what i do, so I do put myself under a lot of scrutiny.

One of the things Ive found myself doing is getting student feedback.  Now... I'm not entirely sure this is a good thing, and this is an important area I will be pursuing in research - is it a relationship between student and teacher, or should there still be a retention of the teacher as "instructor", for better or worse?   IE. does one keep a professional distance - and does this factor in to student engagement etc?

With 57 students to cater for, there will be lots of different levels, and again, one wonders how its possible to target effective teaching across a diverse range of skill levels.

My next step is to look at the teaching materials and immerse myself now in all the reading materials so I can feel more confident in making links to the teaching theory with my own practice.

To be honest, I think regardless, I should be doing this, as it would be presumptuous to assume that I could do this without that kind of support!

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Making it all work

Tuesday 19 Jan:

I met with Tina Barnes-Powell today to voice my concerns about how I can fit the PGCERT in with everything I now have to do in my new role as senior lecturer.

After speaking with the course leader I have been freed up to have Wednesday afternoons to attend the meetings and also to work on research and reading.

I am going to present something on the link between my own learning cure as a teacher with the research on teaching methods that I intend to begin researching starting this week.
Lots of catching up to do, but all achievable within the time frame.

Thursday, 14 January 2016

A new term and a new job

Jan 14:

Prior to Christmas much of my focus has been on the interview for the senior lecturer position, so I wasn't able to make a start on this journal as soon as i had hoped.
Having secured the position, and jumped in to planning a full ten week term, I’m now looking at how to balance my PGCERT commitments with the additional work I’ll be doing in my new position.
I’m sure once I settle into the position, time will start to appear - or at least, thats the theory.

When I decided to be a full-time lecturer I jumped in fairly naively and perhaps didn't really appreciate just how tough it was going to be.
Certainly, being in charge of 57 students has been a huge challenge, and one thats made me pause to reflect on my teaching style quite a bit.

I think, unconsciously, Ive been trying out different teaching methods to see what styles have the broadest appeal or the best engagement from the most students.  It has to be said that i made the mistake of asking student opinions on my teaching style and got the answers I deserved, naturally focusing on the few negative ones!

Initially my style, coming in as a filmmaker, was to deliver industry-focused material and “talk”.  
I noted that whilst this was popular, there wasn't enough retention of information, and not enough curriculum information was coming through.
From September, I had a very steep learning curve, being appointed head of that year with a weeks notice.  This meant i inherited other peoples teaching materials, and I quickly found the powerpoint being used to be far too text-heavy.  It made the lectures too dry and too information heavy.

So, just recently, Ive taken to creating more evocative powerpoint presentations, just using a few key words and some powerful imagery as a way of bullet-pointing my lectures.
I try to stay away from the lectern if possible, and try and make the lecture as loose and informative as possible.

I’m also beginning to introduce key activities that punctuate each lecture, to see what’s been retained and maybe provoke the students into active thinking rather than  passive listening.

I find it an interesting journey, and equally feel very responsible to deliver quality lectures that impact, from a professional standpoint.  But the bottom line is that i have a few years ahead o me to really hone my style.
I am guessing next year when I start the new academic term afresh with a  clear direction under my own auspicious, that I will be able to implement lectures the way I really want to, and this will really help.

This reflective journal is actually tremendously useful to this process and something I intend to continue regardless of attaining the qualification.