Leading and supporting teaching staff
As the Unit Chair, you have the key role in developing and supporting the academic staff who teach and/or assess students’ work in the unit. Most issues that arise in relation to teaching can be prevented or addressed by how you approach your role of manager and mentor. Some suggestions for supporting academic staff teaching into your unit are to:
- Ensure the recruitment paperwork has been submitted and processed in a timely manner so sessional staff have IT access before the trimester starts. See the information on recruiting sessional staff.
- Develop weekly teaching plans and be explicit about your approach to organising and teaching the unit.
- Ensure sessional staff are well-prepared for the trimester, particularly in relation to familiarity with the major content and concepts, the nature of the assessment and its links to the ULOs, and your expectations of their role in communicating with and supporting students.
- Actively involve new staff members in Unit/School/Faculty discussions/meetings (as appropriate).
- Be approachable and provide regular feedback on their teaching.
- Handle any conflicts/issues in a timely and appropriate fashion.
- Make sure staff know how to undertake the regular administrative tasks (such as submitting pay claims) and who to contact in your Department in relation to administrative and HR issues.
- Be clear about who responds to discussion posts on the unit site.
At the end of trimester, it is appropriate to meet with teaching staff to provide feedback on their overall work in your unit and to obtain any suggestions for unit improvement from them. You will have included them on the student evaluation (eVALUate) staff list for your unit and so sessional staff will have received confidential feedback on their teaching.
More information on reflecting on student feedback can be found in Reflecting on student feedback in the unit.
Professional development for sessional academic staff
Deakin University’s Enterprise Agreement 2017, Shaping Our Future, allows for casual academic staff members, engaged to teach for at least one trimester, the opportunity to undertake 4 hours of paid learning and development activities.
Please check in periodically with casual staff within the units you are responsible for to encourage them to make the most of this opportunity. If the staff note that they are having difficulties accessing the PD then please let your Director of Teaching know and they will work with the Faculty office to correct any problems.
Updating the Casual Plan
The nature of sessional work means that often a staff member’s situation changes and you may need to shift the allocation of hours from one staff member to another. To ensure sessional staff are able to be paid, it is important that you update the casual staff plan to reflect any changes as they happen.