First, 'Hello!' I have just joined Anglia Ruskin University as Deputy Head of Anglia Learning & Teaching. One area of responsibility in my new role is to identify and support prospective National Teaching Fellows.
My first few weeks have been a delight. I have already met many very inspiring people who are clearly committed to the University, to teaching and, importantly for me, to learning and the student experience. Personally, it is important for me to keep sight of the learning experience in everything I do.
There are those who already know about becoming an National Teaching Fellow (NTF) and its value. If your answer to the question 'Are you wondering if you are an NTF?' is 'Yes', you will know that being recognised by your esteemed colleagues nationally is a high accolade and is significant recognition of your excellence and commitment as a teacher in higher education.
The process is relatively straightforward, but it is demanding. There are just three criteria, which ask you to prove your individual excellence, how you raise the profile of excellence, and how you develop excellence. Being a National Teaching Fellow is different to attaining recognition as a Fellow of the HEA (as supported by the Anglia Professional Recognition Scheme). If you are wondering whether you should go for Principal Fellowship or an NTF, the answer is possibly both. They are different yet both valuable. If I had to sum up the difference, it is that the three criteria required for NTF really accommodate the individual as an innovator and pioneer. While academic innovation and leadership will also be evident in PFHEA submissions, it feels that it will have been an essential part of the NTF’s character and energy for a good while. I’ve heard NTFs say, 'Perhaps we’re wired differently' – though I’m not sure that is always a good thing!
Advance HE run the awards scheme and offer guidance to those applying for NTF. They note the following benefits to the individual:
- Achieving a National Teaching Fellowship is widely recognised in higher education within the UK as well as internationally as a mark of quality.
- The award can help ‘open doors’ to new academic or career opportunities.
- Award winners join a national community of like-minded professionals who are passionate about teaching excellence.
The suggestion that I apply for NTF made me realise my value to others for the first time. NTFs are highly motivated and we tend to just get on with it, being curious about what we encounter through our practice. To make an application, you literally have to take stock and gather evidence of your influence and impact. I received many genuine messages of support from peers, including people who had inspired me for a long time. Seeing their acknowledgement of me, my ideas, my influence on their own practice, in their own words was awe inspiring.
My confidence has grown with this recognition. I know that I can make a difference in ways that others may find difficult and this encourages and reminds me to take a lead in promoting innovation and enhancing learning, teaching, assessment and the student experience.