Conversation Starters Initiative
Conversation Starters are a series of informal learning and teaching lunch time conversation sessions designed to connect teachers from different disciplines and faculties at UOW (Wollongong Campus). The aim is to create a supportive community where teachers come together in person to share experiences, develop cross-disciplinary relationships, and learn tips and tricks for improving learning, teaching, connection and wellbeing. This initiative was borne out of feedback received by WATTLE from the teaching community about the need for more regular networking and on campus opportunities to connect and talk with peers.
Where and how often do they take place?
Conversation Starters will take place regularly (approximately monthly) during lunch time (12:30-1:30) on the Wollongong campus (somewhere central e.g., building 20). Bring your own lunch or share in light lunch/refreshments that will be provided. Each Conversation Starter session will have a learning and teaching theme and will be opened by a speaker/group of speakers who will give a short presentation/panel of no more than 15 mins to prompt wider discussion. A series of questions related to the topic will then drive small group conversations among those in attendance.
Are Conversation Starters just for Wollongong Campus?
At this point in time yes. This initiative aims to meet the needs of those on campus who have expressed an interest in an in person event. We are piloting this initiative on campus in Wollongong to start with the view to exploring how we can facilitate this type of event at other campuses and entities, including online (should there be a demand). In the meantime, WATTLE hosts a range of other events and workshops that are open to all and facilitate cross campus collaboration and connection.
Are you required to be a WATTLE member to attend?
No. This event is open to all UOW teaching staff, irrespective of their WATTLE membership. Nevertheless, if you are not yet a member, you are able to join.
Can I present/facilitate a Conversation Starter?
Yes. We would love to hear from you. If you are interested in facilitating a Conversation Starter please reach out to the WATTLE Exec: firstname.lastname@example.org
What is required to present/facilitate a Conversation Starter?
WATTLE support will include room booking, set up, refreshments, introductions and facilitation as needed. Presenters would be required to give a 15 min introduction (e.g., presentation, panel etc.) and provide a few questions to facilitate discussion.
Are Conversation Starters Replacing Teaching Circles?
No. However, the Conversation Starters concept was very much borne out of Teaching Circles outcomes and feedback from participants and the wider WATTLE community regarding the need for more informal on campus opportunities to connect and share with peers to develop a greater sense of community. Consider it a cousin of Teaching Circles (which due to a range of factors has been postponed for consideration of a next run in 2024).
Can I drop in/by?
Conversation Starters is a drop-in initiative, so you can join us for as long or as little as you like. For catering purposes (light lunch provided) we ask that you let us know if you plan on attending (or if these plans change). Each session will run for approximately 60 minutes, giving you plenty of time to engage with your colleagues and share your ideas. So why not take a break from your busy schedule and join us for some casual conversation and camaraderie in Conversation Starters.
Will conversations be recorded?
Conversation Starters are for informal sharing of ideas and developing networks, so they will not be recorded. In the event that a recording is requested for aspects of a session (e.g., an opening presentation) relevant permissions and consent would be sought before proceeding.