Theme: Starting Out

Stories from Australian academics about the experience of starting out in a unit coordinator role.

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A Baptism of fire

Prior to her university career this Unit Coordinator worked in the mining industry and was self employed. She describes her first weeks preparing a new unit as an academic. Her survival was assisted with support from her colleagues and her own resilience. More…

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An international transition

After gaining some credibility in her chosen field this Unit Coordinator emigrated from Eastern Europe. She describes her appreciation of the support provided to her on her arrival at an Australian university. More…

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Believe in yourself

There are lots of tips for new academics provided by this coordinator. More…

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Building confidence in teaching

I have worked in clinics as a nursing educator and in management roles. Before starting at this regional campus, I planned to retire but then I was offered and took on a part-time academic role. That was more than four … More…

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Coping with an unhelpful predecessor

This Unit Coordinator recounts the horror of starting in her role without any support and sharing of materials from her predecessor. She offers helpful advice to new coordinators starting out. More…

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Developing sessional staff

This coordinator supervises 30 sessional staff. To engender a consistent pedagogical approach with students she approached the T & L unit to develop a training program, which engaged staff strongly. Feeling isolated arises from work in a specialist area and limited collaboration opportunities. More…

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Leading not managing

After many years this Unit Coordinator remains convinced that teaching is undervalued and unsupported in her university. Alone she introduced innovation into her units and sees herself as a leader in her discipline. More…

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Learning to teach by osmosis

This Unit Coordinator learnt the role by being immersed in it, and to teach by osmosis and stumbling across approaches that worked. He advises tutors to provide an environment that enables students to develop their own mastery. More…

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Managing the workload

This Unit Coordinator began her career in a regional university setting before moving to a city based research intensive university. She describes the differences in technology application between the universities and the level of support provided to Unit Coordinators. More…

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Micromanaging unit coordinators

Limited induction provided for new academics has led this coordinator to assist them. Her own learning was by trial and error. The T & L centre assists with policies. She feels valued but has issue with the limited recognition of time spent on unit coordination. There are workload discrepancies, which are not seen as fair. More…

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New academics

This coordinator is of the view that many new academics are thrown in at the deep end and are given too much responsibility for which don’t have the experience. He goes on to provide tips that may help them to cope with the workload and gain perspective.
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No-one dies here

As a clinician and leader in a previous role, this Unit Coordinator applies the skills learnt then to this role. She provides practical and useful advice. More…

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Painting the Sydney Harbour bridge

Experience was obtained by this coordinator during six years at two different universities. He asked lots of questions to survive the early years and has learnt to compartmentalise the various responsibilities since. This has reduced anxiety although a sense of relentlessness and treading water prevail because he lacks the time to reflect, improve and excel. More…

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Part of an academic’s work

Teaching an on-line unit meant there were no timetabling, coordinator or tutor ‘complications’ experienced by this coordinator. She feels her skills are valued and is part of a supportive team, and views unit coordination as important and an opportunity to show leadership. More…

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Relationships are the ‘heart’ of universities

I have lectured in this regional campus since it opened more than 20 years ago. I commenced as a sessional staff member and watched the campus grow and evolve. My concern of late is the poor attention paid to relationship … More…

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Seeing myself differently

A young but experienced coordinator of a unit in education is a reflective practitioner and open to continuous learning. She owns up to her mistakes, and has overcome them through building collegial networks, being disciplined about her time and demonstrating a more relaxed attitude. More…

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Seeking a tree change

After a career in business this Unit Coordinator made the shift into academia. His interest in teaching and learning is strong as is his interest in student welfare. More…

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Starting out – Quick Tips

     Below are some quick tips for the challenges associated with the theme Starting out.  The tips are itemised in dot form and are unashamedly simplistic, but are included to meet the just in time needs of busy academics. … More…

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Stepping up to unit coordination

This coordinator started out as a tutor and took over a unit when the coordinator left. She creatively changed things and made it her own which the students loved. She feels well supported and developed a sound pedagogical philosophy.
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Supporting unit coordinators

As Head of a new clinical school, there was nothing in place and progress was made difficult for unit coordinators who were professional clinicians rather than academics. He sees his role as supportive and clearly outlines his expectations with new staff. He operates in a ‘fluid’ environment and relies heavily on the goodwill of staff, while also relying on the T & L team and student services for advice and practical assistance. More…

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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…

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Teaching on short term contracts

After many years at his university this Unit Coordinator remains on contract employment. He describes his pleasure in working with previously unseen material, introducing different teaching strategies and recognising research opportunities. More…

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Thrown in at the deep end

Thrown in at the deep end in the beginning led this coordinator to take any courses on offer to improve performance. He enjoys the responsibility, autonomy and authority of the role and being in control. However, as his role is primarily teaching he feels less valued as an academic because of the value placed on research. More…

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Using my time wisely

This coordinator faced the newness of technical issues initially and associates lack of administration support with a lack of value by her institution. Dealing with staff hiring, paperwork and other admin tasks removes her from focussing on the students and other important areas that her education and experience have prepared her for. More…

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What sessional staff want

During my years as Unit Coordinator in the School of Nursing I employed and managed many sessional staff.  I explored and discovered that they seek validation of their professional knowledge, opportunities to develop professionally, and to connect with their profession … More…

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