Instant Ideas and Collaboration
Our feature article this month is by Samantha Halford, a subject librarian at Cass Business School, City University. If you enjoy this month’s feature article, do join us for the chat on Tuesday 5 August on Teaching in Libraries, 18.30-20.30 BST. We’ll have an agenda available to add questions for the chat from Tuesday 29 July.
The UKLibChat team have asked me to write a post for you about my experiences of teaching as a librarian, and particularly about gaining FHEA status. It stands for “Fellow of the Higher Education Academy”, and it means that you’ve demonstrated “commitment to professionalism in teaching and learning in higher education” . There are two ways to do it: the first is to apply directly by producing an account of your professional practice and some referees , and the second, which is what I did at the end of 2012, is to take an accredited course ; you then earn a postgraduate qualification, usually a PG Cert, and FHEA status. It’s a specifically higher education qualification that’s often now required of new academics, who are largely teaching adults. It’s also taken by others around universities as well, particularly by those of us who support students directly.
I’m a Subject Librarian at a business school, so I’m responsible for making sure my students get what they need from the library by buying resources, helping with their queries, creating online help, and liaising with staff, amongst other things. Last year, I delivered a whopping 63 hours of teaching across 21 weeks in various forms:
It’s A Lot, especially for someone who’d never considered that they’d be any good at it right up until I had to do it! So, how did I learn, and how did the FHEA qualification help?
Firstly, I was not a natural. These are skills I am still very much learning. When I got my first professional job, I thought I was going to view the teaching part of it as my least favourite, and it was certainly the part I was most worried about. I had a supportive manager who sent me on a few short training courses immediately. That’s where I suggest you start, if you’re completely new to training and teaching – my course was really helpful, but you got more from it with experience under your belt. After that, I learned on the job, sometimes doing well and sometimes… not. I don’t keep lengthy reflective journals, though I know some find them invaluable, but I do use student evaluations and reflective thinking and notes to guide myself to do better next time. It was a steep learning curve, but practice makes perfect!
When I started my current role, I was offered the opportunity to take the PG Cert in Technology-Enabled Academic Practice.  The modules I chose covered…
 HEA (2014) Professional Recognition. Available at: http://www.heacademy.ac.uk/professional-recognition (Accessed: 24 July 2014).
 HEA (2014) Applying to become a Fellow of the HEA. Available at: http://www.heacademy.ac.uk/fellow/applying-to-become-a-fellow (Accessed: 24 July 2014).
 City University London (2014) Academic Practice Programme. Available at: http://www.city.ac.uk/about/education/lead/academic-practice-and-phd-programme/academic-practices-programme-and-modules (Accessed: 24 July 2014).
 This course doesn’t have to be taken just as an MA: you can take just the first module to become an Associate Fellow of the HEA, the full first year gets you a PG Cert and FHEA status, then you can complete a further year for a PG Dip and then a dissertation for a full MA. It can also be taken as Technology-Enabled Academic Practice, which is what I have. Other universities will have similar arrangements. I stopped after PG Cert because I felt that many of the other modules were less helpful to my role than the ones I’d already done, to give myself a break, and because I’ve already done two MAs and three seems a little OTT. However… I can go back and top up if I change my mind!
 Sometimes I’m not entirely certain that this is a good thing, mind you…
 I had evidence, obviously, I didn’t just randomly take against them.
Subject Librarian (Cass Business School Undergraduates)
City University Library Services