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PREPARING TO DIVE IN
I KNOW MY STUFF - ISN’T THAT ENOUGH?
Staff tend to be appointed based on their expertise and experience
in the subject matter of their particular disciplines, rather than their teaching skills. However, even staff new to teaching in higher education have already had at least some experience of working with students, for example alongside researching or studying for higher degrees themselves. That said, when teaching  rst becomes a signi cant part of one’s career, it can seem rather a daunting prospect, for example, to step up onto the podium in a large lecture theatre, or to design some web-based learning for a group of students, or to take home a big pile of students’ work to mark.
Many of the people around you may seem to have been teaching
for ever, and glide swimmingly (it appears) through the processes of preparing lectures, planning tutorials and seminars, designing and using online resources and assessing students’ work. But all of these colleagues are likely to remember that knowing one’s stuff was only a relatively small part of becoming able to help students learn one’s stuff! Even scarier, the stuff you know backwards is quite unlikely to be at the heart of the material you need to be able to teach. It is very likely that at least some of the content you need to teach will be new even to you, and you may be surprised how long it can take to put together a lecture on a topic you’ve never studied directly before.
WHO CAN HELP ME?
Often, you’ll  nd someone who will be a real help. You may be set
up with a mentor - an experienced colleague to guide you through those  rst teaching experiences or you may be taking over a course or a class from someone else who’s still around to show you how it has been done in the past. But sometimes, you may  nd yourselves stepping into the shoes of someone who’s moved on to a different institution or even retired. It can be scary to take on an established course or class when there’s no-one around to answer your questions of “what can I do when...?”
You may already have the opportunity to avail of relevant staff development or training. Through this, you may know people to ask when you have worries or problems. That said, even when such training is available, you are quite likely to have to get started in your teaching before the training covers what you need. In any case, you may feel that you want to show that you can sort things out on your own, and you may not want to share your concerns or worries with colleagues or mentors. If that’s the case, I hope this resource will help in its own way, not least the sections which address frequently asked “what can I do when...?” questions. In addition, you may  nd the Watt Works in Learning and Teaching guides useful as they provide useful guidance to keep in mind at particular times.
Before getting into the main part of this resource, it may be useful for you to  ll out the following checklist to help you establish where you are now, and what your immediate priorities will be. Don’t worry if  lling this in makes you feel that there are too many challenges - the rest of this resource aims to help you with all of them. The  rst column is for ‘not applicable’ - in other words for all those challenges which aren’t yours - not yet at least. (Looking back at your  lled-out checklist may later surprise and delight you at how far and fast you’ve moved in those  rst few weeks of teaching.) Success and leadership are often linked with an ability to ask.
Here we provide you with a set of useful starting point questions and encourage you to think about and create your own.
If I had an hour to solve a problem and my life depended on it, I would use the  rst 55 minutes determining the proper questions to ask.
ALBERT EINSTEIN
8 IN AT THE DEEP END | LEARNING + TEACHING academy


































































































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