The Highlight of My Year – The AdvanceHE Teaching Excellence Awards

by | Apr 20, 2022 | Awards, Institute update

Headshot of Patricia Clift-Martin, the University of ManchesterPatricia Clift Martin has worked at the University of Manchester since 2002, following graduation from the University of Leeds with a Masters (by Research) in decision making models. Since 2002 she has worked on a wide range of internally and externally funded projects including student retention, learning dispositions, developing Higher Education Achievement Reports, and online personal development resources for students. Since 2014, Patricia’s work has focused on academic development firstly through the Centre for Higher Education Research, Innovation and Learning (CHERIL) and now through the Institute of Teaching and Learning which she has helped to establish from idea to implementation. Patricia’s interests are in whole programme design, assessment models and effective academic leadership and she manages the AdvanceHE National Teaching Fellow (NTFs) and Collaborative Award for Teaching Excellence (CATE) awards programmes at the University. In this post, she shares her reflections on supporting the schemes.

For more years than I care to think about I’ve supported the AdvanceHE Teaching Excellence Awards here at the University. It’s a rather bureaucratic, deadline heavy process where word counts are king and you may now be reading this thinking “this is the highlight of her year – the rest of her job must be hell…” but the thing that makes it all worthwhile is the truly spectacular, amazing brilliance of those we nominate every year.  

Many of you will be aware of some of our National Teaching Fellows. They’re well networked teaching and learning leaders with bucket loads of curiosity, a hunger for learning, a passion for transforming learner outcomes (although who their learners are varies from registered students to colleagues and patients) and conversations with them undoubtedly make you feel more positive and inspired about teaching and learning.  

Supporting NTF and CATE nominees allows me to immerse myself in the hidden stories of my colleagues, to understand the culture of excellence in different disciplines, and the potential this has for wider impact. Our nominees give me an amazing gift by opening the door to their worlds and with that knowledge I can help make connections, build networks, develop opportunities and enable them to shine. Our nominees have taught me so much over the years and I’m grateful to them all – whether their applications have been successful or not.  

It takes a huge amount of work to form an NTF or CATE submission. It’s a process that can challenge your thinking about yourself and your practice, but it can also help you really reflect on your drivers and motivation to excel in teaching and learning. One of my main learning points from this process which drives my practice every day is the sure and certain knowledge that for every person or team we nominate there are many more with the skills, experience and pedagogy to make a huge difference to teaching and learning at Manchester and beyond. If we can identify them and provide opportunities to shine then we have the potential to shift our teaching culture and have a huge positive impact on student outcomes.  

If I’ve described you, and the aspirations you have for the next few years, or if you recognise the attributes of someone you know then please consider joining our AdvanceHE Awards Pipeline Programme. We will hit the ground running and begin these conversations with participants in a safe and collegial environment working in collaboration with colleagues from Manchester Metropolitan, Liverpool and Northumbria University – sharing best practice and building new networks.  

Every day, colleagues across the University deliver and lead exceptional teaching and learning which has wide-reach and impact. Recognising and sharing this excellence across a large and complex organisation can be a huge challenge but that said, we all have the power to make a difference in building a positive teaching culture. If you observe good practice please say so and then go one step further and share what you’ve seen with someone else. I believe that informal day-to-day conversations are a key part of personal and professional development and pivotal in fostering a collegial and supportive culture. I would therefore encourage all colleagues to be open, network, and disseminate their learning freely.  

To all our CATE and NTF nominees over the years – thank you for having the courage to put yourselves out there, for sharing your practice so generously, and most of all, for your unwavering commitment to excellence in teaching and learning. We wish all of those going forward in 2022 the very best of luck. 

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