Doing it with CLASS: subject coordinators leading teaching teams
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A need for systematic integration and support for sessional staff has been identified as an issue in Australian higher education. Current research highlights a need for significant change in the professional development of sessional staff but also the role of the subject/unit coordinator (called the coordinator) in leading this change. Whilst many institutions conduct valuable generic or discipline-specific induction, teaching expertise development may be best done in conjunction with development of a collegial network by co-ordinators at the subject level. This ALTC funded professional development initiative, Coordinators Leading Advancement of Sessional Staff (CLASS), was implemented in four Australian universities in 2010. A workshop program for subject coordinators that focused on their leadership roles prepared them to implement a subject-based action learning activity with their teaching teams. An academic developer supported the initiative and facilitated reflection and the development of a cross-disciplinary community of practice. This showcase provides examples from the Subject Coordinator led initiatives plus feedback from the national road show. Resources will also be made available for wider implementation. Significant organisational change happens over a longer period than the two years of the funded project. Through targeting incremental change at the subject level this program provides opportunity for staff at multiple levels to start thinking differently about the role and contributions of subject co-ordinators and sessional staff. At a time when there are calls for better quality outcomes for students we believe this program addresses a need to embed quality practices in the leadership and management of teaching teams.