To continue my own professional development as a leader and coach, with the aim of developing my people management and project management skills, I have been actively engaging with the Coventry University Leadership Series.
During each of the webinars, I have been engaged with the discussions, polls and learning of leadership skills. Following each, I have reviewed the materials to make note of:
- Important learning experience: to provide a couple of key points I found interesting in the session.
- Models to consider: screenshots of any interesting models.
- Areas to improve: reflections and any areas I could be improving upon.
- Link to teaching: how the session relates back to my T&L CPD.
As part of CPD for my role and for the PGCAPHE, I will make note of the three points per webinar here.
Purpose of the webinar: To identify skills needed to be a collaborative leader, and methods to connect and collaborate across groups or sites.
- Important learning experience:
- My teams and I have been using Microsoft Team to collaborate. This is actually a recommended app for collaboration and connection.
- Virtual teams allow staff to work anywhere and at the same productivity as in an office, if not more.
- Models to consider: Not necessarily a model, but I will consider Coventry University Group’s Digital Productivity campaign. This video on working from home was also insightful.
- Areas to improve: The space I use for meetings is the same space used for student meetings. The room is small and decorated to make students feel at ease. However, to become a collaborative leader, I need to recognise how my team see the space. It has been recommended to use walking meetings.
- Link to teaching: I found this session really important to blended learning. I recognise that f2f learning is not the most viable method of for many in work, with dependents, etc. and this collaboration and communication session is evidence that if the workplace is moving to online methods, so should teaching and learning
Purpose of the webinar: to learn more of the benefits of powerful questions and when to use them.
- Important learning experience: powerful questions are personal; they resonate and are impactful; are incisive and stimulate reflection; explicit and happen in the moment.
- Models to consider: Peter Senge’s The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of the Learning Organization – see below
- Areas to improve: use powerful questions as part of the GROW (Goals, Reality, Options, Will) model.
- Link to teaching: powerful questions can be used to coach, allowing students to the opportunity to reflect and think of solutions independently. The use of powerful questions can be inspiring and grow student mindsets.
Purpose of the webinar: to consider methods to structure a coaching converstaion and the benefits of using a coaching style.
- Important learning experience: Coaching and Managing are two very different skills, but can be merged together effectively. Coaching conversations are most successful when there is trust; a rapport; opportunities for feedback; active listening and powerful questioning; a comfortable environment and an understanding of shared expectations.
- Models to consider: Downes, 2014 or Forbes, 2012 – see below
- Areas to improve: to improve my combination of coaching and managing conversation skills, instead of using distinct meetings. To further resist providing ideas for solutions and allow the coachee to lead.
- Link to teaching: having a coaching conversation with a staff member is no different from a coaching conversation with a student. The ability to develop positive relationships with students to support personal and professional development can use the same advice and models provided in this session.
Purpose of the webinar: To improve listening skills and recognise signs of a good listener, including body language.
- Important learning experience: There are internal and external barriers to listening to understand. External barriers include the environment (e.g. noise) and distraction. Internal barriers include our internal dialogue, unconscious bias, judgement and competition.
- Models to consider: The HURIER Listening Model, Judi Brownwell – see below
- Areas to improve: I have noticed that when I am listening to understand, I may look unattentive, for example looking down or at an object to focus on what I am listening to. I recognise that body language is very important to read the listener, as well as how the speaker reacts or changes approaches to speaking. I will look at improving my body language when I am listening.
- Links to teaching: this session was important to learn how to read when a student is listening to understand, taking this information as feedback to teaching style or practice. It is also important to share this knowledge with students, sharing tips on how to empathetically listen to others. I believe teachers should reflect on their own experiences as listeners and remember that difficulties in focus and attention happen often, therefore teacher-led approaches and traditional lectures are not as effective as student-led teaching.
To be an effective educator and manager, it is important to be able to manage conversations, expectations and complaints.
The ability to take on the role of conciliator in 2017 at Coventry University London allowed me to apply my communication skills, my dual expereinces as teacher-student and my ability to handle difficult conversations.
I initially engaged in training for this role in 2017 and with continuing my journey as an educator, I was more than willing to engage with training again in May 2019.
The training provided a very important reminder of the purpose of conciliation from the students perspective, as well as the institutions. For students. conciliation avoids a long and difficult formal process, which could impact academic studies, by finding solutions or resolving the issue early on. For HEIs, conciliation leads to an overall more positive student cohort, with fewer formal complaints, as seen at Coventry University since inception.
As part of the training, staff engaged with conciliation techniques from other universities, such as the University of Huddersfield: see here.
In addition, we gained a better understanding of the Office of the Independent Adjudicator (OIA), a body similar to an HEI’s ombudsman but without regulatory authority or the ability to fine (although they can make recomemndations). The OIA offers a Good Practice Framework to handling complaints and appeals for staff, as well as guidance leaflets for students.
It was clear to all that there are certain attributes needed to be an effective conciliator, such as the ability to: listen, communicate, build rapport, offer respect, reflect/analyse information, be fair, etc. These are skills I am confident myself and my colleagues use on a day-to-day basis and can apply successfully within our role.
We were recommended the following steps when considering a concilliation case:
- Prepare: what has happened? why?
- Meet: with the student and/or staff
- Next steps: investigate further and meet with other parties/hold a joint meeting
- Outcome: share outcomes will all involved parties via written communication methods
I found this refresher useful for my role as a conciliator, but also as an educator to understand better the perspectives of the student and the university I represent. I feel the skill would be useful in 1:1 interaction with students that have grievances inside or outside of the HEI.