Professional Development Teaching Support

Teaching Focused – Community of Practice

Teacher writing on a chalkboard

One of the key aims of the Teaching Academy is to promote good teaching practice, one way to achieve this is bring together academic staff with a more teaching focussed role to share their ideas and experiences. In this article, Martin Simmons, from the discipline of Civil Engineering, explains more about what the purpose of the Teaching Focused Community of Practice.

This network was established in the summer of 2021 to provide a forum where staff on teaching-focused contracts can connect, share experiences and organise activities to support their development. The need for such a network had arisen because although the number of teaching-focused staff within the faculty has grown in recent years, they are relatively few in number within many disciplines/departments and there were not many opportunities to communicate with each other.

The teaching-focused network currently has approximately one hundred members from across the faculty, who can connect via a Teams group. In addition, the network holds 2-3 meetings per semester which focus on issues that are of particular interest. Meetings are typically informal, about 1 hour long and take place around lunchtime so that they do not impinge too greatly on colleagues’ daily routines. Most meetings are in-person but we have held some online/hybrid events to improve the accessibility of the network to those who cannot be on-campus . Whilst the network is primarily aimed at teaching-focused colleagues, anyone with a keen interested in teaching and learning is welcome to attend our meetings.

In the last few years, there have been a wide variety of topics that we have focused on in our network meetings, namely:

  • Career progression and promotion
    • What is Scholarship? How can we fund it?
    • Educational Projects
    • Assessment & Feedback strategies
    • Support for LEAP applications
    • Working with Industry to support teaching
    • Groupwork strategies

As well as learning more about the above topics, one of the main benefits to the network has been raising awareness of which colleagues are teaching-focused. This has allowed colleagues to form new working relationships and expand the reach/impact of their activities. In addition, the network can provide support to early-career teaching-focused colleagues who may need guidance about what the role entails and how to develop their careers.

We are always open to new members who would like to contribute to the network, so if you are interested please contact .