The best Teaching Awards are those based on partnership, with buy in from staff and management. So it’s worth taking the time to win support from different groups of people in different ways and for different reasons.
Who are the big names in the institution that you’ll need support from? Which committees hold the purse strings and the influence in your institution? Who would it be useful to impress so you can use your good reputation in the future?
Here are some suggestions from existing Teaching Awards:
Vice-Principal (Quality, Learning and Teaching)
- They are usually in charge of the university’s strategy on learning and teaching, and hence will have a budget you can access for Teaching Awards.
- They will have influence over Heads of Schools/Faculties and hence can ensure they promote the awards effectively.
- They have overall responsibility for the institution’s Learning and Teaching Strategy, and so can ensure that the evidence gathered from nominations is actually used to improve teaching.
What to do?
- Start off informal. Take the Vice-Principal for a coffee and show them this toolkit, discuss what you think the awards should address.
- Be honest and upfront about the support you will need (cash, staff support, access to venues and communication). Listen carefully to what they would want out of Teaching Awards. The more you can agree and include in your Awards, the more likely they are to give you financial support!
- They may ask you to produce a formal proposal based on the conversation you have.
Learning & Teaching Committee
- The main movers and shakers in delivering teaching will be on this committee.
- Their formal backing will give legitimacy to your Teaching Awards.
- You can also agree how they are going to support you in promoting the Teaching Awards and using the results to improve learning and teaching.
What to do?
- Be more formal this time around. Prepare a paper on why there should be Teaching Awards.
- Include evidence on why the Awards should be created, and what areas of learning and teaching they could focus on, using things like: National Student Survey results; past ELIR reports; Programme/Course evaluation reports; current Learning & Teaching Strategy
- Again, be up front about what financial, human and physical resources you’re going to need to make the Awards a success.
Heads of Schools
- Some existing Teaching Awards have specific School/Faculty categories, such as Best Lecturer in Engineering and Physical Sciences
- Ask Heads of Schools to support you financially. They could sponsor their Schools Award for example.You will also want commitment from Heads of Schools to share and use the evidence from nominations to improve practice in their School.Finally, Heads of Schools will be involved in the promotion and recruitment process in their School/Faculty.
- With an explicit aim of Teaching Awards promoting recognition of good teaching as much as research, their buy-in is crucial in the long term.
What to do?
- Again, an informal approach initially is best. Explain what the awards are and pitch for support, both in financial and promoting the awards.
- Be prepared with evidence from Programme Evaluation reports, or School specific National Student Survey results, about how Teaching Awards can help their School/Faculty.
- Think about who is best to approach Heads of Schools. Do you have a School/Faculty Officer or an active Class Representative from their own School who might be more effective at winning support?
Head of your Educational Development Unit
- You will probably have a central unit which is responsible for educational and staff development across the university to enhance the quality of learning and teaching and student experience.
- Ensure that the Head of this department is on board with using and disseminating the results of your awards through their programme of activities.
- They might be willing to fund a dissemination or launch event where you can invite class reps, students and staff to hear from last year’s winners.
Academic and Support Staff
- Making sure that all staff know that the awards are happening and what the idea is behind the awards will really help make sure awards are well received as a positive project and don’t lead to confusion or animosity amongst staff or between staff and students.
What to do?
- Set up a meeting with Union reps and explain what the results are all about – rewarding staff that go the extra mile, boosting morale on campus, not playing staff off against one another or compromising academic freedom.
- Ask if they’ll support the awards and help with communicating the awards aims and details to staff
- Contact the staff directly – Heriot Watt produced an information booklet for all staff which was provided via Directors of Learning and included pictures from previous awards and more information on what the project was all about.