Mentor programme helps staff learn vital lessons

Laurence and Gemma

Mentor programme helps staff learn vital lessons

A mentorship programme is helping Forth Valley College staff flourish in their jobs and deliver sector leading standards of learning and teaching.

The programme was launched in line with the College’s Creative Learning and Technologies Strategy, with a particular emphasis on encouraging staff to take creative approaches to learning and teaching and promoting the use of technologies to enhance the learner experience.

It was launched in 2017 with plans for all members of teaching staff to participate over a three to four year period.

In order to deliver the programme, the College recruited three Learning and Teaching Mentors - Lecturers Eleanor Seel (Core Skills), Gemma Dempsey (Early Years), and Laurence Ferguson (Construction) successfully secured these posts.

They advise, guide and support teaching staff in regards to ways in which they can enhance their practice. 

They also support new members of staff and lecturers who are working towards their Teaching Qualification in Further Education (TQFE) at university and Professional Development Awards (PDA).

Their one day a week secondment has encouraged them to also undertake additional engagement with the Leadership Development Management Group (LDMG), the Creative Learning Technologies Committee (CLTC) and the Learning Technologies Advancement Group (LTAG).

Their work – part of the College’s Learning and Teaching Enhancement (LTE) programme – also saw them invited to give input to a Colleges Development Network (CDN) conferencing call early last year in relation to developing professional standards for lecturing staff across the country.

Laurence, said: “It’s very rewarding to support colleagues across the college. It’s also a great opportunity to see learning and teaching approaches across different areas of the college, collaborating with staff and gaining an insight into the diverse range of curriculum delivered. The programme is actually helping the mentors too, as we support staff in exploring new strategies and approaches.”

Gemma, went on: “We have all really enjoyed this mentor role. We feel there is a great amount of responsibility, particularly when we are supporting staff who are working towards a qualification. The programme is extremely beneficial, we learn a lot ourselves and it helps us keep up to date with best practice and learning and teaching initiatives across all departments and subject areas.”

Eleanor, who has previously been lauded by the SQA on their Understanding Standards webpage, which resulted in a film of Creative Industries students promoting Speaking and Listening Communication best practice, said: “I was very proud of my involvement in the SQA Understanding Standards project a few years ago and I feel that my mentoring role is a progression of this. My experience of teaching and of using technology to enhance my teaching, means I am able to share best practice with new and existing lecturing staff. I really enjoy helping them to get the best out of their role in the job.

“Recently, after observing a lecturer in class, I suggested to them to use a certain piece of technology the next time as part of their lesson. They came back to me and told me it was a ‘brilliant’ lesson and I really enjoy that side of this mentoring role, helping and empowering staff to do their job.”

Gemma, added: “We are advising colleagues to go and speak with fellow staff members in other departments, it’s great to bounce ideas off of each other. The programme has also opened up other opportunities for us to work on various committees and action groups to implement what we have learned. In particular, the Learning Technologies Advancement Group, is somewhere we consider new technologies that we can implement to support learning and teaching in the classroom, for example VR headsets. We can then introduce staff members to new technologies through the mentor role.”

Anne Fowler, FVC’s Learning and Teaching Manager, who line manages Gemma, Eleanor and Laurence in the roles, said; “I am very proud of the work that Gemma, Eleanor and Laurence have been doing over the last 18 months. The feedback we have had has been very positive and we’re looking forward to seeing how the programme develops.”

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