Taking responsibility

Employed to implement a teaching strategy across the faculty for 1st year students, this academic was asked to coordinate a unit. With no meaningful induction she faced a steep learning curve about unit coordination and the university and asked lots of questions to survive. She sees herself as ‘teacher leader’. More...

My contract appointment here was to implement a teaching and learning strategy across the faculty for first year university students. I worked with several unit coordinators but after working with one unit coordinator I saw how easily the implementation could be derailed in his unit unless I took greater responsibility. I volunteered to co-coordinate the unit with him the next year then found I was responsible for all aspects of the unit except presenting the bulk of the lectures. It meant I came from knowing nothing about the work of a unit coordinator; nothing about the logistics, procedures, processes, deadlines or electronic communication, other than email. Although I attended a half day induction session when I arrived here it was more about the university context and I was not employed to coordinate faculty units.

Initially I faced a very steep learning curve and asked a lot of questions to survive. There was not a skerrick of information offered. As a science educator I felt well equipped to manage the unit content, class discussions and classroom management but I received no induction or training in any shape or form about unit coordination. Whenever I saw anything possibly related to coordinating the unit I followed it up and invariably needed to do something. Despite all the administration hiccups and trials, and having to learn quickly, I enjoyed the unit coordination experience and working again with university students. It was a rewarding, enjoyable and challenging time for me and student feedback was fabulous.

Since I’ve been here my role has changed. I still work to implement the teaching and learning strategy across the faculty and I coordinate one unit each semester. I’m now preparing the materials for a new unit. I keep in touch with the university teaching and learning team outside the faculty but otherwise work on my own. Very little of my coordination responsibilities were mentioned in my recent performance review which left me feeling unsure about how much my work is valued by faculty leaders. I know the students value my contribution so feel terrific about that. I also know I am the only person interested in my professional development.

I do see myself as a leader of learning here and enjoy putting into practice the leadership knowledge I have. When introducing the teaching and learning strategy I brought other academics on board, coached them to continue without my support and encouraged them to share ideas, so regard that as leadership. As unit coordinator I see myself as teacher-leader so I am certainly leading the students’ learning. I rate my job satisfaction quite high as I look for ways to entertain myself and take on tasks I enjoy doing. There are many opportunities for professional development here and I’ve taken advantage of those.

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