The first part of the annual Academic Orientation Programme (AOP) for academics new to Rhodes took place last week. The AOP is an important event as it is an opportunity to welcome lecturers new to Rhodes. It provides an opportunity for new staff to meet one another as well as other Rhodes academics, including senior leadership, deans and directors of support divisions. It is also a chance for them to gain an understanding of the integrated ways in which the roles of an academic are conceptualised at the University and to meet some of the people who have received Vice Chancellor’s awards for outstanding work as engaged teachers and researchers. In addition to opening up spaces for important discussions on topics such as institutional culture and transformation, the academics are provided with information about ways in which Rhodes supports them to meet their goals in terms of teaching, research and community engagement.
The afternoon sessions created spaces particularly for lecturers new to teaching to explore their teaching challenges, to deliberate on how learning happens in the various disciplines and how assessment can impact positively on teaching and learning. New lecturers were encouraged to construct development plans for their career trajectories.
Initial feedback from the participants indicates that the AOP was generally well received and appreciated. Some comments include:
- It helps one to reflect on matters of academia: teaching, research and community engagement. In particular the celebration talks by the recipients of excellence in teaching, research and community engagement were quite inspiring and thought-provoking.
- What I particularly enjoyed was the sense of community enabled by [the CHERTL facilitators]. They also modelled useful pedagogy to get students and participants engaged. Their choice of presenters also shows that a lot of thought has gone into planning AOP as a meaningful experience for us.
- I personally think that it is a wonderful platform to introduce new staff members to Rhodes University, the program allows one to place themselves as teacher and learner into perspective. The staff have a friendly disposition and a strong emphasis is placed on human values and engaging people on a holistic level. The program introduces the various facets of the university the inner machinery so to speak and the afternoon deliberations, feed into the teacher learner roles we as new staff members have to fulfill.
- The afternoon activities … allows a new staff member to learn the ethos of the University and how to improve as a lecturer in disseminating information. Also helps one to look at learners in a holistic manner.
The second part of the AOP programme which focuses on teaching with technology takes off this week in the Xstrata Lab in the main library.