It’s been a funny year. I turned 50, was furloughed from the tutor job I love, then made redundant. I didn’t see most of my friends or family for months. I’ve taught antenatal classes on Zoom, and Pregnancy Yoga on Zoom. Mum and Baby yoga on Zoom too. Singing The Hokey Cokey with a doll to a computer is one of the oddest things I’ve ever done. I’ve had Zoom singing lessons, Zoom choir rehearsals, Zoom get togethers with friends and colleagues.
I’ve done a lot of Zoom-ing. And a lot of waiting…
Those who know me well know that patience has never been my strongest attribute. I’d rather walk than wait for a bus, I hate waiting for exam or assignment results, and don’t get me started on waiting for food in restaurants.
Yet…the last few months have forced me to be patient, to wait. I’ve had no choice, the current pandemic has altered our lives like nothing that has happened before. Simple things like buying groceries involved queueing to get into the store, then queuing to pay to get out.
For some things though, the waiting is over and things are changing. Being made redundant a couple of weeks ago hurt. A lot. I’ve gone beyond SARA, to grief cycles and the bottom of the Fisher’s Transition Curve (see image). Luckily I have managed to get some contract work as Senior Learning Designer with Aula Education and I’m hoping it will lead to bigger and brighter things.
Leaving NCT as a tutor hasn’t stopped me believing in NCT Educators and the depth of knowledge they have. With many tutors taking redundancy (a mix of voluntary or compulsory) there is a real chance that this knowledge base will be lost. It makes the Open Publishing side of this project even more important.
I’m aiming to publish at least one article a month from fellow educators starting with Suzy Bromwich-Alexandra writing about her transition from teacher to student.
Otherwise known as “The Unexpected Cat Ambush”, for reasons that will become clear.
Last week I presented at the H818 – The Networked Practitioner Online Conference. Those of you who have read earlier blog post will know that I suffer from performance anxiety especially when presenting or singing (see Feeling the Fear). I was very nervous, but I’d followed my own advice and prepared as much as I could. I’d followed my tutors’ advice and reduced distractions. I had a script to follow, I knew my stuff, it would be fine. At least that’s what I told myself.
I was about an hour in, so I listened to the others as my nerves started to kick in. I feel I should apologise to Jo Jones who was presenting before me, I have no idea what she said. I was lost in my head!
Once my time came I was actually okay. The nerves went and it flowed well. There was however something I hadn’t prepared for. In the advice given by the tutors they hadn’t mentioned anything about cats. How I should have made sure before I started that the door to the office should be shut. And midway through the presentation I found myself with a large white cat on my lap partially obscuring my notes (see above picture). It at least sorted the last of my nerves! There is evidence that cats increase oxytocin levels in humans and can reduce anxiety.
If you are interested you can listen to the presentation here.
During the presentation attendees could ask questions in the chat window. Some of them were answered on the day, but I’ll give some fuller answers to the questions and comments below.
– Love the brains! Yes so do I! They are however a temporary image. They are part of an organ donation campaign by Ahmad Nady. A friend who is a graphic designer will create a more permanent, but still in the same spirit, image.
– good strategy – being an example of good PLN practice is likely to be more convincing to help them consider adopting similar approaches. – Modelling good practice is so effective. This taps into the theories of modelling and social learning, like those of Bandura, familiar to NCT educators. My aim is to build the self-efficay of colleagues through example. I would invite them to have a go, and see what happens, much as I have done.
– By risk – do you means threats to confidentiality for your clients? No, as I explained during my presentation, this was about risk to NCT Tutors ‘putting themselves out there’. I mentioned that some of this was a fear of online abuse, but in reflection (and after being gently reminded by a colleague) it’s also about moving out of our safe NCT space. NCT works hard at being a safe space for parents and practitioners. We use Roger’s Core conditions and Mortiboys Emotional Intelligence as the foundations for our practice. Intrinsically we know that within NCT we can trust each other, our shared philosophy of practice and common values (Kelly, 2020), enable this trust. Increasing our digital presence feels more scary and unsafe as a result. One of the themes in my project (and beyond) is mitigating this feeling of risk.
– an open publishing space is this within the blog or a different tool? This is on the same website. Some of the site is this blog, but there will also be a website for articles on education. I wanted everything in the same place for ease of access. It’s still very much a work in progress.
– is there a difference in online multimedia workshops in gaining trust, in comparison to face to face workshops (which may not be practical for distance reasons? This is something that has been debated at length. The notion that trust and support are better in face to face settings. In my MA studies all of the learning is online. I haven’t met any of the other students I am studying with but there is still interaction and support between peers and tutors.
– pre-workshops and quick zoom calls really help build confidence/trust! If this were a new group that I was working with I would use pre-workshop activities and some video calls, to break the ice and gain confidence. With the multi-media workshop I am proposing for my colleagues, as we all know each other and it’s a small organisation so I have the luxury of somewhat of a pre-formed group!
– you could use webinars for online workshops and forums to build a community? Building a strong community of profession and practice is very important to me. I’d like to be the pioneer in a growing community of NCT Academics that regularly publishes and discusses our practice openly. By integrating a webinar into the workshop format (Phase 3), I’ll be able explore more potential challenges and continue to build confidence.
– what about the using VR in workshop? I had not even considered this as I know very little about VR and how it would work with the kind of multi-media workshop I am developing or what the cost complications could be. I will do some research. Thank-you.
– You’re a good example and leader, Helen! Thank-you!
If you have any other questions about my presentation or project, please ask them in the comments box below.