Nice to know I’m doing something right…

This week has seen a roll of drop ins and workshops that I have been running for the students and staff. For the students I am engaged in dissertation support and I received some feedback from their module lead on Friday: “Dear Karen
Just thought you’d like to know that several students commented in tutorial sessions yesterday how helpful they’d found your sessions.
Best wishes”
[Module Lead]

It’s always good to know that the students find the sessions helpful and interesting! It’s balm for my soul as sometimes I wonder how I ended up doing this. I often question whether I am best placed to answer these questions so when someone finds something I have said or suggested useful, I feel a small sense of justification!

Another piece of feedback was from a member of staff after I had done a piece of work for her: “Hi Karen
That’s brilliant, thank you for taking the time to do this, it’s much appreciated
Best”
[Academic Staff Member]

So again I feel very happy that someone is finding what I do useful and that I have helped, in however small a way. This also shows my commitment to engaging with the academic staff and that I am always happy to help! Institutional context is important for Chartership and this piece of evidence, along with others in a similar vein, highlights that I don’t just sit at my desk, ordering books and stamping them. It shows just how valuable we are in our faculties and that we are appreciated and our job is important. It’s not always the case, but I am lucky in the area that I work in, that I’m not just seen as an add-on. I’m a valued member of the University and someone that the staff and students feel comfortable and happy to approach! There will probably be more on this subject; watch this space…

Reflective Practice, cont…

I’ve had a bit of a breakthrough today, in my block on how to go about writing my reflective statement. I’m really quite pleased by this and now feel a bit more confident about tackling it!

I’ve identified, using the PKSB, approximately four or five areas that I would like to concentrate on, and will critically reflect on where I am currently in these areas. One of the areas I feel I would like to develop is my management skills: while I have many years of managing small to medium sized teams, I feel I need to expand on these skills as they have taken a bit of a back seat in my current role. I still manage a small team but am only directly responsible for one member of staff. I dont do any recruitment and selection, sickness monitoring or behaviour monitoring, all of which I have done in previous roles. Likewise, my input into library strategy has been woefully neglected, whereas when I managed the Local Studies and Heritage Libraries I was in there at strategic level (almost).

So, this is another area I want to develop. How will I go about it? I intend to mention this at my yearly review and see what my manager can come up with. A training course? Attending a meeting? Sitting in on interviews? Not sure…all I know is that this is the way to go.

How will this help me in my current role? Well, an awareness of organisational practices and values is always valuable. In terms of strategic planning, I have to set the team goals every year and this feeds up the chain. Obviously if I get the chance to sit in on a strategy meeting (which I hope I could!) discretion will be required regarding any sensitive issues that may be discussed.

Anyway. I’m feeling much more positive about the whole thing today! Who knows what masterpiece will come out of this! Watch this space…

CILIP Chartership Chat!

A while ago I went along to the lovely Edge Hill University, to attend a talk on Chartership and Registration. I was asked to do a presentation at this event, which I mentioned in a previous post, on my Chartership (#chartership) journey thus far. In the previous post, I suggested I would use this experience as a basis for reflection, as I have never been head-hunted to do anything like this before. While I believe I have good presentation skills, this was a chance to test them out on an unknown audience.

When I have given presentations at work to colleagues it’s always been very informal and relaxed and the topic has normally been one of my choosing. Either that or it’s been to groups of students and that’s very different when you are using the presentation medium to teach information literacy. In the CILIP presentation, I had to talk about a specific subject pre-defined…me! So, I went with the ‘try to be a bit formal and informal at the same time’ method. Not an easy ask…

My presentation slides are uploaded with this post. I went with a narrative style – a little theme running through the presentation – which provided the basis for a more discursive presentation. And this was a good choice as I found out when I got there the other speaker couldn’t make it and I would be leading the session pretty much on my own (but thanks to Lorna, who organises these things and was very stressed!).

Well. How did I cope? I think it went well; I got some very positive feedback and a lovely email from Lorna endorsing how I had managed the session and initiated some interesting discussions. I think the attendees found my presentation interesting: I told the funny story about my old boss and the conversation about not wanting to be a Librarian (in 1997 I didnt really know my calling!), which got a few chuckles. I felt very energised knowing I was leading on this and it’s given me a real confidence boost, both in my presentation skills and also in my ability to lead colleagues in such situations.

So, what now? (in the true spirit of reflection!). I fully intend to become more involved with CILIP – in the chat I had with a colleague last week, she suggested that the North West group were looking for members. This could be a good thing for me to become involved in, although life is a little topsy-turvy at the minute so I will wait until it settles to make any firm decisions. Watch this space…

NoWAL Chartership presentation

#chartership – update

On Friday last, I had a very interesting conversation with a colleague who gave me some very good advice concerning my lack of skill in the reflective practice business of chartership. She’s recently become a Fellow and said that she found this a great aid to organising her thoughts and reflections. She told me (and it is common sense, really) to ask other colleagues, with whom I have worked on projects (including herself) about the impact my involvement has had. So, I’m thinking about the work I did for the consolidation and asking those colleagues whom it affected, and my work with e-journal purchases and investigation.

The more she spoke, the more I thought ‘hang on, this is probably what I would be telling someone if the roles were reversed’…and realised that the problem with my reflection is that I dont apply the techniques to myself…do as I say, not as I do, kind of thing. Probably comes from being a mother! I do know where my ‘do-er’ aptitude comes from: dancing. As a child I learned by doing the steps/poses, not by being told how to do them, this being a physical, rather than mental, exercise. Ergo, kinesthetic, pragmatic learner…

So what? I ask myself, in the true style of reflection…in future (as with this post!), I will endeavour to coach myself, as I have learned to coach others, and apply a little thought rather than jumping in with both feet, before I pursue any activity. For me, this will be breaking the habit of a lifetime, but, hey-ho, let’s try! It’ll be interesting to find out what I learn about myself along the way. Watch this space…

MOOC(ing) Around Again!

#ocTEL
I’m doing a MOOC again, this time about Technology Enhanced Learning. I have to admit, we don’t do a lot of this at my institution; the focus is still on face-to-face or traditional lab learning. However, some colleagues have made inroads into webinar teaching, with varying results.
My impression of TEL is that it is very subjective to the area of study. For example, our A&D students (unless they are doing GD or some such course) probably won’t be using much in the way of technology as most of their stuff is still in printed form (I know this because, as manager of the serials collection they cause me some considerable headaches!). Whereas our tech students in Computing or Science, say, do engage more with the use of technology for learning.
So saying, I’m part of the Social Media Team and we are very aware that our students don’t use these platforms for studying. They will tweet if it’s too noisy in a study area, but generally if they have an information query they will come to the helpdesk to speak to someone. I’ve encountered very few information enquiries via twitter or FB, and these tend to be from overseas or distance students who are using these communication channels generally to be pointed in the direction of the relevant subject librarian.
One of the reflective questions this week is ‘[Am I] leaning towards one approach in particular on ocTEL, and if so why might that be? Perhaps you are employing strategies from more than one approach?’. The approaches to learning under discussion are ‘deep’, ‘strategic’ and ‘surface’.
I’ve always been a strategic learner: maximum gain for minimum effort. So, I use knowledge already acquired and assimilate this into a strategy for expanding on this learning without too much effort! Ergo, this blog post! I know quite a bit about social media and learning and so I am reflecting on this bit of TEL; the use of social media as a learning tool (discussed a bit further down in the post The Joy of Facebook).
For the purposes of this MOOC, my approach is mostly strategic, with a bit of surface thrown in, as I havent got too much time to devote to it. Plus, I wont be graded on it, so I am not too worried about being top of the class, as that isn’t the point.
As to social media being a valid learning tool…well, again, I suppose this is completely subjective and moves into the area we will be exploring in more depth next week. Watch this space…

Reflective Practice Pt 1

As I mentioned in the previous post, I’m working towards my Chartership and it’s now well underway! Allez! as we say in cycling!
I’ve just started to look at writing my reflective statement and, oh boy, this is going to be a toughie! My mentor has suggested that I look at portfolios on the VLE, but I havent quite got that far…I’m still in denial, I think!

However, as well as my blog, which is a great place to organise my thoughts (and espouse on topics that I am interested in/have a vague knowledge of/get right up my nose!) I’ve started keeping a reflective ‘diary’, in the form of some word documents in a folder. Not the best way of organising my material so I am going to do a bit of digging around to find out if there is a better way to do this! I work with a few folk who are really into Web 2.0 and, while I’m no Luddite myself (wouldn’t be doing this if I was!), they have their fingers more on the pulse than me…

This week has also seen me putting together my presentation for the CILIP Changes to Chartership event, at Edge Hill University, that I have been asked to speak at! First time I’ve been head-hunted for a particular event and I feel incredibly privileged and grateful to be doing it. I was suggested by one of our senior managers as a speaker as I initially looked at Chartering under the old regs and, for reasons unknown, never got off the ground with it. So, I’m going to speak a bit about me, why I’m doing it and the things I like/dislike about the Chartership process. My presentation is still a work in progress but, when I’ve done it, I will use it as an opportunity for reflection on how the event went. I’ll publish the presentation at that point, but it wont be surprising that there’s a little narrative running through it (guess, I dare you!).

So, reflective writing…at the minute, my writing is confined to specific instances, rather than a holistic reflection of my role/development etc…I’ve had a few ‘learning experiences’ recently and have been noting these down as instances to reflect on.

Recently I had one student, not from our Uni, being incredibly rude to me, even though I wasn’t in the wrong. When I offered to pass her on to a colleague who would tell her exactly the same thing I had, she hung up on me and didn’t call back. It’s the old library adage; users will ask many times of different staff members the same question in the hope that someone will tell them what they want to hear rather than the truth!

My learning I’ve taken from the above? I wont bother arguing the toss with someone in future who isn’t willing to listen, I will just offer to pass straight over to another colleague or to the duty manager to reinforce the message to the user!

So, off now to do some investigating into reflective organisation. I’m now going across the office to bug our resident Web 2.0 expert! Watch this space…

(What) to blog, or not to blog, that is the question…

I don’t think I’ve mentioned this before, but I am currently working towards Chartering and a part of the portfolio is a reflection of where you are at the beginning of the process and where you are at the end…now, I found out I’m not very good at this type of study while I was doing my teaching portfolio. I can write descriptively, but not particularly analytically. Part of the reason for this blog is to set down my thoughts on issues that affect/stimulate/annoy me, and to reflect on them – as I used to in my diary as a younger person (but without the wistful sentiments about a certain rock god, music and boys in general! )

So to help me with this, I’ve decided to start a reflective journal, as well as this blog. However, I immediately hit a stumbling block: what to transfer to my blog? If the idea is to be able to organise my thoughts for my blog, and to use that as a tool for reflection, what should I blog and what should I avoid?

The impetus for this musing was one of the issues I tackled in my reflective journal last week: a sensitive issue regarding a member of staff who I manage…so, having made the decision to stay away from such sensitive material, is this defeating the idea of my blog? Given that my posts go straight to my twitter and FB feeds, I think I must be very careful of what I transfer to my blog.

…and, as usual, this has sent me off on the tangent of how we teach information literacy to our students! We teach them how to construct effective search strategies, but it has only become apparent recently (after some high-profile cases in the media) that we need also to teach them how to use social media responsibly.

…and, also as usual, this task has fallen on the library profession (because we are innately responsible or because we are at the cutting edge in technology terms?). As mentioned before, we have problems getting our students engaged in social media for study, but we can turn it on its head and show them how to behave sensibly online. Recent research suggests that potential employers now look at our online presence before they even meet us and so giving a good impression very important.

BUT…this then leads to debate about freedom of speech, prejudice, etc. Should we really be so wary of stating our beliefs for fear of such reprisals? My initial answer is no, but I believe we can be honest about our values without compromising our online presence…something that’s just a bit alien to me is tact (on occasion!) but I know I can be true to myself and my values and opinions in a way that isn’t offensive and wont compromise my future career! Watch this space…