Why apply to be a PAL leader?

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by Max, BA(Hons) Philosophy and PAL leader

Becoming a PAL Leader is about more than the added income, ability to undertake the ILM L3 in Effective Mentoring, or having some experience on your CV. It’s about having fun and making an impact with students who are going through the same thing you have just been through!

In this post I want to talk a bit more about the other sides of being a PAL Leader, that might not seem so obvious.

What do I do as a PAL leader?

What I really love about being a PAL Leader is how flexible the work is. At the end of the day, you’re there to help the students and facilitate their success at UWE.

This means that you help on a range of topics, from managing money, preparing for second year, or thinking about careers, on top of all the usual course-related content, like essay planning or even discussing particular books/topics as a group.

I have a handful of semi-planned sessions for some of the above key topics, but otherwise I will find out what my students want the following week and come prepared with a handful of resources – and maybe a toned back presentation (always using a Mentimeter where possible!) This means that outside of the timetabled session, there really isn’t much preparation required, as the training helps you deliver quality content and the rest of it comes from your experiences.

I haven’t had any other job quite like it. The flexibility truly makes it interesting, every single week.

Why did I apply?

  • For the chance to help students through things I struggled with. Ensuring that the next cohort get to enjoy all the tips and tricked that I picked up, through trial and error.
  • To make a positive impact and legacy on my course, ensuring the year below are going to enjoy the course just as much as I have – that’s where it’s really about applying your personal experience and sharing what you’ve learned with them.
  • To develop myself as a well-rounded individual. It’s rare that you get the opportunity to develop mentoring skills so early in your career, so this was a great introduction to that.

My favourite moments

Especially in the current virtual environment, it meant a lot to my students that I could facilitate a safe space for them to share and speak up, where they wouldn’t feel confident doing so in the larger lecturers/seminars.

There are both direct and indirect moments that you can help and an indirect one for me was getting their feedback about a particular extra-curricular session they had last term. I was able to take this and work with the lecturers to facilitate these sessions again this term. The students were very grateful that I went out of my way and helped arrange something that they wouldn’t have done themselves.

What have I learnt?

I’ve learned many great soft and hard skills as a PAL leader, while at the same time working and developing some skills I already picked up from previous jobs.

Organisation and the ability to be agile

The role taught me to plan a session in a matter of days and then successfully time manage within that session. It was also key to understand the balance of having enough material to fill an hour, but also not have too much that we can’t go off plan and discuss something completely different that the students want.

It’s also about not being phased if no one contributes, or if you don’t make it past the first planned exercise. As long as you can provide value to the students, then you have succeeded in that session.

Professionalism and responsibility

You’re a lifeline to students, who really value getting your insight. It’s not just about having a chat with them for an hour but delivering meaningful content that has a positive impact. And where necessary, signposting or flagging important issues to the relevant staff.

How to mentor, engage and lead classes

This is brilliant experience if you’re interested in a career in teaching but also great to show varied experience on your CV. I was able to work on my training skills from a previous job but now I can also show how I adapted them to a different setting and audience.

Thank you for taking some time to read my post, for more information on the PAL leader role check out the Be a PAL Leader web page and have a think if this is a role you can make your own and leave a lasting positive impact on fellow students.

You might not realise just how much you’ll enjoy!

Team Coach: what is it and what’s in it for me?

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Spotted Team Coach in your timetable? That’s because your programme has been selected to take part in a new initiative as part of our commitment to your self-development.

What is it?

In sport, the role of a coach is to support the people participating, reach their full potential. And when it comes to academic coaching it’s just the same!

During Block Zero you were assigned to a coaching group in Microsoft Teams, consisting of around ten other students from your course. Since the start of Teaching Block 1, you’ve been timetabled to meet up every two weeks, along with other groups of students from your programme, and one or two coaches, who are members of staff.

The sessions are facilitated by your coach(es) and based on UWE Bristol’s five secrets to success. During the sessions you’ll watch a video together and complete activities related to the week’s theme (for example: ‘Visualise your future’).

What are the benefits of Team Coach?

We trust Team Coach will:

  • Inspire you to engage in student life in all its forms
  • Empower you to make the most of the many opportunities here
  • Provide space for you to share and reflect upon your experiences
  • Increase your confidence
  • Reduce any isolation you may be feeling due to the coronavirus pandemic
  • Help you graduate successfully

By working together, you’ll be able to build on what you learnt in Block Zero and support each other to seek solutions to any issues you might be experiencing, especially in light of the pandemic.

We want you to succeed in every area of university life and hope you enjoy working with your coaching group!


Peer Assisted Learning (PAL)

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by Jo Lewis, PAL Manager

You’ll probably notice something called ‘PAL’ on your timetable, or maybe you heard about it during Block Zero.

Peer Assisted Learning (PAL) is a student-to-student support scheme which helps you with your transition to university, in particular:

  • engaging with your course
  • connecting with your peers
  • increasing your academic confidence and resilience
  • developing good study habits

Online PAL sessions are delivered by second and third students, known as PAL Leaders. They won’t be teaching you, but will facilitate interactive group study sessions giving you the opportunity to ask questions about university life, expectations, course content, online learning and much more!

You’ll also be able to share ideas about assignments, projects and exams – all this in a friendly and collaborative online learning environment. So don’t miss out, you never know, you may go on to be a PAL Leader in the future too!

If PAL doesn’t appear in your timetable and you would like to connect and collaborate with peers, why not attend our online Resilient U PAL sessions? For more information about these student-led sessions, view the Events Diary.

For more information, visit our PAL webpage.

Report your symptoms so that we can support you

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You will not be penalised. We need to keep you and the community safe, so report your symptoms, self-isolate, and we’ll support you.

We have a Covid Support Team especially for this unique period in time. You must contact them:

• if you have Coronavirus symptoms
• if you have received a positive test result

How do I report symptoms?

If you develop Coronavirus symptoms, self-isolate in your accommodation and ring 0117 32 87000. The phone line is open from 09:00 to 19:00 every day.

You can also report symptoms online using Infohub (login required). If you report your symptoms online a member of the team will call you back.

What we’ll do

We’ll take some details, explain how to book a free test with the NHS (if you haven’t already) and what your next steps are.

We can help you access your learning resources online and make sure you have all the support you need. We’ll also check back in with you throughout your self-isolation to make sure you’re ok and to see if there’s anything you need from us.

This goes for all students, wherever you’re living. For information visit our University life in self-isolation page.

How coaching groups can support your student journey

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by the Student Journey Team

In sport, the role of a coach is to support the people participating, reach their full potential. And when it comes to academic coaching it’s just the same!

During Block Zero, you’ll be put into coaching groups hosted in a Microsoft Teams site. Your group will be made up of around ten students within your programme areas and you’ll be able to meet up and work with your group virtually.

Once Teaching Block One and Two start, you’ll then be timetabled to meet up with six other groups of ten students, every two weeks for an hour and a half. During these sessions, the team coach that’s been assigned to you will present a pre-recorded lecture to you based around one of the 5 secrets to success. You’ll then break off into your coaching group to complete activities which will build on that theme and help you reflect on your experiences.

By working in a group and with your coach, you’ll be able to support each other to seek solutions to any issues you might be experiencing. You’ll also have the chance to build on your learnings from Block Zero, gain confidence and feel empowered to make the most of your opportunities at UWE.

We hope you enjoy working with your coaching groups and enjoy all that university life has to offer!