July 13

Taking a break

This post is part of EdublogsClub. This week’s prompt is reflections.

I actually did a post about reflections a while back so I thought I’d post some more about what I’m doing now and aiming to do next.

I have a job interview on Friday. It’s my first ever teaching interview (excluding the one I had to cancel due to a bereavement). The role is for a SEN Lecturer and I have to do a lesson session, presentation and have an interview afterwards. I’m ill-prepared, but then, I’m ill. I’m thinking I should phone in and cancel.

I’ve been ill all week. I think it’s some sort of virus. I started feeling better mid-week but then I’ve never been able to shake off the headache. I went to the walk-in clinic locally, as I was so desperate for any pain relief, but it turned out that they are just a minor injury unit. When I left the unit I remember thinking That’s it. I won’t get better before my interview.

I guess I just want to get this out there, that I landed an interview for a role where I felt good about myself and the work I could potentially do. I feel sad about cancelling – so many people in my life are crossing their fingers for me and telling me that this is something they think I’d be good at.

And I’m starting to question if I am just chickening out because I’ve had a fortnight of Hell and I don’t think I’m coping.

Anyway – creating my lesson session has been fun. I’ve made a sorting game that can be turned into a poster and then happy/unhappy/blank face stickers can be attached during the reflection period. The session will end with a practical and I’m amazed with how much I have remembered despite a dull throb following me around for one hundred hours.

I’m also really excited about my presentation because I got to write about my learning journey and how it has shaped my definition of achievement.

So I’ve done some good work here but I won’t be using it. But I still think it’s good. It felt rewarding and meaningful. I’ll just put it in a box for a while.

June 20

Conferences

This post is part of EdublogsClub. This week’s prompt is conferences.

Thinking back, I’ve been haven’t been to many conferences in my life – however, it feels like I’ve been to more than enough. For some reason, conferences seem to happen in clusters and the longest ones always happen in spring or summer. I’ve sweat for three consecutive days in many of our big cities; eating irregularly and getting headaches from stuffy auditoriums. Sometimes, for a change, I get dehydrated when the air conditioner is on high. This tends to end in nosebleeds. Admit it, you’d like me as a conference buddy!

Conferences are weird things. During them, I feel uncomfortable and when it comes to the networking events I want to curl up and hide. But sometimes I meet people and click. In fact, some of my favourite people are people I’ve met at conference. I think conferences are a bit like call centre jobs; some people thrive, some people just get through it and the rest bond over their general awkwardness.

My favourite conference was Objectively Speaking last year (I mentioned it in a previous blog post here). It was held in the British Museum and I went to a talk/activity in the Samsung Centre. Museum learning is my main area of interest, but as you know, I do like digital technology too. It was great meeting the staff in the Samsung Centre and find out about the work they do. Unfortunately, time has erased most of the details from my mind but I left buzzing with ideas. The only thing I do remember is I wanted to set up an activity using a green screen in my local museum. The plan was to buy a green screen, and use a free app so people could stick themselves in a chamber pot! I thought this would be fun but there were financial, time and security constraints so the idea went into the dustbin. However, it was superb to see what can be achieved when museums can afford to be experimental.

Another great conference I went to was a CASE Social Media Conference. CASE stands for the Council for Advancement and Support of Education. If you work in alumni relations, fundraising or a marketing team in an educational institution you may have heard of them. Most people I know who are involved with CASE are colleagues from Alumni and Development teams in universities, I haven’t met anyone in schools or colleges who know about CASE yet. I went to the last CASE Social Media Conference in Brighton. It was reassuring to meet like-minded people! As a university staff member, sometimes it would be so frustrating to see the lack of experimentation from other colleagues – there is a tradition to do things like they’ve always been done. I can understand why people take this safe approach, but it doesn’t make it any less boring. Especially when it comes to social media.

Benjamin Goodwin, from University of Birmingham, spoke about #uobblackout.

During the blackout, University of Birmingham communicated via social media. What followed was some of the most entertaining engagement I have ever seen.

I enjoyed the CASE Social Media Conference. It’s really fun talking about social media and student engagement. It’s also reassuring to find out that we have the same issues; how do we engage with students when there is so much noise online? Also, how can we have meaningful engagement?

I’m not much of a traveller, but I’d like to go to SXSWedu one day. I’d also like to go to Minecon and Culture Geek if the opportunities arise.

June 13

Carers learning about learning

This post is part of EdublogsClub. This week’s prompt is parents.

Hmm. When I saw this blog post about the role of parents in learning, I didn’t know how to approach it. My parents have had no input in my learning, but they definitely had an impact on it. I don’t want to say they were unsupportive, as they did what they thought was best for me, but education was not respected in my household growing up. I’m sure that if going to school was not a legal requirement, I would not have been there.

That’s not to say that they would have been pleased if I dropped out. On the contrary, they wanted me to go and get decent grades but they didn’t want me to pursue post-compulsory education. They wanted me to do well enough to be employable. They didn’t believe that I was capable of more than minimum wage work, but they thought I’d have a job for life and possibly I’d get promoted over time (for context, they had a 1970s mentality in the 2000s – times had changed, but they hadn’t).

I often wonder what my life would like like if my parents supported my education. But the idea is so alien that I cannot begin to imagine it. Even now, they don’t talk about my time in university – my Mum occasionally asks How’s college? I know it’s just small talk because my answer has been the same for years.

I’m not sure education is something they really understand. It’s not surprising. It sounds like my parents had a bad time in school; it’s no wonder they left early. My Dad went out to work, my Mum went home to care for an ill Mother. Nobody checked up on them. I don’t know much about school during the 1950s, but I don’t think learning support was around and teachers seemed like another species. I haven’t met a teacher nowadays who doesn’t talk about student-centred learning, from my parents’ accounts of their schools it sounds like it was all about discipline. And it was the same for my grandparents and great-grandparents.

I look at my sister and my nephew and I’m happy to say that I think we have decades of supportive learning ahead.

Even though it’s early days, learning is something my sister and brother-in-law care deeply about. I do too. I’m saving up to get my nephew his first Schoenhut and I’m very excited about when I’ll be able to take him to museums (I don’t know whether he’ll be as excited though!) I understand baby development is complex and all methods have their share of criticism, but we are learning about ways to help him learn.

And I wonder if that’s the key with learning? It’s not whether you are doing it right or wrong, it’s whether you’re doing it and enjoying it.

June 6

Grandmother’s House

A couple of months ago I posted about the Path and I mentioned the aesthetics of the grandmother’s house. At the time, I didn’t use too many visuals because my aim was to write about my favourite elements and let my readers decide if they want to investigate further.

However, as this week’s EdublogsClub prompt is about using videos I thought I could use a video playlist to illustrate the previous EdublogsClub post and how I think videos can be used to reference previous learning.

Also, sometimes videos can explain what my vocabulary cannot. My interpretation of the grandmother’s house can be very different from yours. But I think the style, and the atmosphere, is not something I could necessarily describe without images.

May 30

Calendarise

This post is part of EdublogsClub. This week’s prompt is making the most of your time.

I touched on productivity in previous EdublogsClub posts (namely workspace and challenge). When my mental health is at it’s best I’m a super-organised and enthusiastic person. When I’m in a low, focus is almost impossible. I tend to fall at the first hurdle and never get up. It’s just the way it goes. What helps me is knowing the moment will eventually pass and I’ve got no reason to beat myself up about it.


source: buzzfeed.com/summeranne/50-lessons-that-moomins-can-teach-you-about-life

One of the ways I make the most of my time is by owning it. I calendarise my projects, work week and my social life. I share my calendar with colleagues. This technique minimises distractions. I’m less likely to log into my work emails when I’m studying or visiting relatives. And I stop feeling guilty about not replying straight away because I know people can see I’m on another project or away from work. Calendarising reminds me to try to keep to schedule – if the allotted time has passed and I haven’t finished my task I am reminded that I’ve chipped into something else. The overlap gives me pause for thought – and a chance to ask myself questions (eg. Is my piece of work bigger than I first expected? If so, why is that? and Do I need to reassess my workload?…) and take a small break to reevaluate my day.

May 23

Macondo, Moomins, plays and zines

This post is part of EdublogsClub. This week’s prompt is books and reading.

As a teenager, I read sporadically. But when I found something that caught my imagination I became absorbed. I always tried to like cool books; the books that were all about finding yourself but funnily enough I couldn’t identify with the narrator most of the time. As a child I had a few favourite books but I won’t write about them here because I think this post could easily end up an ode to Plop the owl.

I also was going to avoid writing about graphic novels and zines, but I put Moomins and Culture Slut in anyway because I enjoy them. I managed to keep non-fiction out of here. I might write about inspirational journals at another point. But that subject often tumbles into a description of my learning journey.

This first book my adult brain loved was One Hundred Years of Solitude. Though it was a cautious love at first. I was a little bit infatuated with South America at the time and the town of Macondo seemed very vivid in my mind. It took me a few reads to understand the family tree and I still got confused, but there are small details of the story that enchanted me. One Hundred Years of Solitude was the first story I was able to make mine, in my head I imagined the serigraphs of Eyvind Earle and the scent of a showery summer evening.

I took a few quick snapshots of my Gabriel García Márquez shrine. It is more of a Macondo shrine because I loved the atmosphere in One Hundred Years of Solitude. The flowers and assorted bric-a-brac remind me of the magic and lushness of Macondo. And I’ve always had a feeling of “home” when I read Gabriel García Márquez.

source: rookiemag.com/2012/02/not-creepy-at-all/

The Moomins are latecomers to my favourites. I remember seeing them when I was a child and thinking they were fun, but when I revisited them decades later I realised there were clever storylines and an acknowledgement of darker moods. I particularly like elements of melancholy and anxiety that appear, and some occasional social commentary.

I also really love Ibsen plays. Hedda Gabler is my favourite, but I also love The Wild Duck and An Enemy of the People. I don’t want to say I relate to Hedda Gabler because I know that can sound depressing and/or morbid. But I can relate to some of the things she says and does. As someone that often feels undervalued, Hedda Gabler shines like a beacon to me. Whenever I read or watch Hedda Gabbler I feel a silent scream in my chest, which I always felt she experienced too.

You can download the ebook at Project Gutenberg and Amazon. Or just watch the movie above.

Zines were a big part of my life in my twenties. Over the past five years I have not bought as many I used to – this is mainly due to my only trying to buy things I need phases that happen yearly. I am my happiest when I’m rummaging through a box of zines. The first personal zines I remember reading were Culture Slut and Telegram, and slightly later Your Pretty Face is Going Straight to Hell. I do read a lot of political zines and pamphlets, but the personal zines are my favourites. I just remember reading personal zines and getting excited that I could make one and that people may like to read about my life! I love reading about other people.

You can view two issues of Culture Slut at the Queer Zine Archive. Here they are: