Nearly there…

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Photo credit: K Dolman 2019 UPDATE 27.6.19: what I got in to this morning at work…

So, after quite a long while, lots of wine and not a few re-writes of the evaluative statement, this week sees the Chartership journey come to a (potential) end. I am about to press the BUTTON! (Cue: drum roll, dry ice from the ground, glitter from the sky, et al. You get the picture…).

I’m not entirely sure how I feel about it, to be honest. On the one hand, I am feeling quite excited at the prospect, slightly nervous and hollow-bellied, but happy to be finally in a position where I have been able to send the promised email to my colleagues about a well-earned drink on Friday evening (pressing the submit button is just an aside to this 🙂 ).

On the other hand…I feel like a child who’s had her favourite toy taken away, or my 20 year old self receiving tickets to the panto, rather than to the Bon Jovi concert: as if my life has moved sideways somewhat and isnt following the designated course it is meant to follow…sounds ridiculous, right? (To set the record straight: I did enjoy the panto, but would’ve enjoyed Bon Jovi more, particularly as I was dressed for the latter, rather than the former 🙂 ).

But when I reflect on the journey that has brought me to this point (reflect, moi, kidding, right?), I realise that I have invested a huge amount of effort into this process; much more than probably anything I have ever done before, apart from being a Mum and maybe my Undergrad degree (which took me six years: procrastination at its best). When I think of all the training I’ve done, the conference attendances, the negotiating, the resources designed and delivered, that have all contributed to being able to submit this application, my mind boggles. And I haven’t included all of it, just the bits that were relevant. And this is without having to gather the evidence, organise and order it (which I should be good at!), write the evaluative statement amid the struggles I have with being reflective, blog posting (ok, not been exceptionally brilliant at keeping this dialogue going: my bad), networking and getting to grips with the portfolio platform (sorry, CILIP, it’s not the best…) that I have also had to do to get to this point! I don’t even want to imagine how many hours it has likely taken me. I should really have kept a spreadsheet but I think that the sheer numbers would’ve made me run to the hills (see what I did there? I’ll get my coat…).

That said, I need to make a shout out to a fair number of people who have supported me during this time, and that’s the reason for this blog post (and not to whinge about the amount of work I’ve had to do: I made my bed…). Cue Oscar acceptance speech…

First and foremost, my mentor, without whom I wouldn’t be at this point and who has put up with me and supported me through an incredibly hard part of my life. Submission has been dogged with family issues, illness, accidents, weather, holidays and just my complete incompetence at times (Me “I’ve done my re-evaluation of PKSB”. Mentor “I cant see the changes” – four hours of work not saved…). Throughout the process, my mentor has been steadfast in supporting me and I am incredibly grateful and humbled by the dedication I have been shown. I am keeping this anonymous, but you know who you are. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.

Also to my managers, past and present, who have also supported, encouraged, cajoled (and occasionally threatened 🙂 ) me into getting this far. Without you allowing me time, space and training budget, I definitely wouldn’t be here. Again, you know who you are and I thank you.

And not forgetting my long-suffering work colleagues, family and friends, who have all put up with my whining, prevaricating and repeated announcements that ‘this is the week!’ for the duration of this process. A combination of encouragement and ‘tough love’ has been available for me from various sources during this journey and again, part of this is down to you lot. Deal with it. 🙂

Lastly, to my lovely partner who has shared this with me, much in the way that I shared his PhD write-up all those years ago (although he hasn’t checked my referencing). I told you it would be pay-back time, at some point, Just think of the money…

So. Nearly there. I’m signing off (as they do in those weird sci-fi films where the aliens/fungus/suspicious buggers in long coats have eaten the rest of the crew/humanity/the planet) with some words of wisdom. Watch this space…

 

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Teachmeet Triumph!

UPDATE: 26.6.18 – Part of this post went towards a blog post for our staff blog, to promote the Teachmeet to our wider audience within the SHU academic and professional team.

So, it has come to pass again. I have been remiss in keeping up on my blog, through no real fault of my own though…Life, as usual, has a habit of getting in the way and it’s got in the way quite a lot recently.

There have been a few camping trips (memorably at Easter when we nearly got snowed in at Kielder!) and some weekends away…and a broken hand. This was due to a complete lack of attention when exiting a route, a lack of anything resembling balance and co-ordination, a small red bug and only one hand on the bars…this happened to be the right hand, which promptly decided – without any apparent consultation with my higher faculties (which I give leave to doubt I have, after this debarcle!) – to pull the front brake. This precipitated flight over the handlebars, landing on the path and cartwheeling into a puddle. The visit to Wrexham A&E involved a nurse suggesting knitting might be a more salubrious pastime for someone of my obviously debilitating co-ordination skills, a large bandage and six weeks off my bike…let that be a lesson to you all. Dont let your right hand do your thinking for you!

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(Photo of muddy me, pre-breaking of hand. New helmet was required also. The bike is unscathed. Copyright K Dolman, 2018)

But I am now back at work and back at the Chartership. So having had a few things to pick up on, I decided that one of the things I would like to reflect on was being part of the organising team for our first Teachmeet at SHU.

None of the planning team has ever organised such an event. If you aren’t familiar with the Teachmeet ethos it’s a platform to share ideas and experience, in an informal way, with a few presenters and much audience participation – the idea is about sharing. I have attended quite a few in the last few years and invariably find them fonts of information. Also, I do struggle with formal networking and the Teachmeet ethos is helpful with this as it’s really very informal and so feels a bit more relaxed.

We have been planning the event since just after Xmas. Initially we had to decide on a theme and decided we would look at supporting students who study at a distance. This doesn’t just mean traditional distance learning: it can be commuter students (as I was), placement students, students on practice based learning courses and students who may not fit these models but, for whatever reason, struggle to access their course in the traditional, campus-based way.

My job on the team was admin: I am the only full-time member of the team and so my contact details were given out when we sent out the invites. I was also responsible for feeding information to presenters and delegates and collating all of their info back to the team. This was really quite easy to manage, since we used Eventbrite to manage the bookings (really good: if you are organising anything that you need to book people on to, I recommend using it. It will even allow you to print badges of your delegates, which I didn’t find out about until it was too late!). Now we are post-event, my job is to make sure that the resources are spread more widely. We’ve put all of the information and resources into a Libguide which I’ve shared to LIS networks in the wider profession.

One of the first things we discussed was who we would like to present at the Teachmeet. We didn’t just want it to be Librarians and Academic Skills advisors; we wanted to widen it out to staff and students and their experiences too. We didn’t manage to get any students but we did get one member of staff willing to share her methods of supporting distance learning. She happens to be one of my Radiotherapists and so I was tasked with organising her slot. When we met to discuss it, she kindly volunteered to do it remotely, from home, using the software she uses to video-conference with her students. This is a product called Zoom and it is remarkably easy to use! We had a couple of trial runs and then in the morning we did a test to ensure it was all working. As well as working with Sue on this, I had to make sure that the room we were in was suitable and had all the technology we needed. This was easily achieved by contacting IT and a helpful gentleman sorted out what I needed and showed me how to use it.

The presentation went really well and everyone was impressed with both the technology and how our staff use it. I’ve had lots of requests for more information about it from the delegates and Sue got lots of questions. I was very happy about this as she had kindly volunteered up her time during her busy marking period to do this for us. So I really wanted it to be valuable time for her too. The upshot of this is that I am now being asked to deliver info-lit sessions on her DL courses, as she had a conversation with her team about the fact that I was happy to become involved! So, from September, I will be a part of the DL courses in Radiotherapy and Oncology.

As part of the day I was also responsible for helping with twitter, and we asked one of our skills team, Kirsty, to tweet on the day for us. As we only have one twitter account, and normally our Management Services manage it, I hit upon the idea of asking them if we could take over for the day. I really didn’t expect them to be so happy for us to do it! So Kirsty and I organised this and we had a really good twitter response. I created the hashtag (#SHUTeachmeet) and emailed the networks the day before to try to get the conversation more widely exposed. We did get a few people involved but not many. I’m also trying to keep the conversation going by tweeting a few things to the hashtag (this post will be one of them!).

The upshot of hijacking the twitter feed has been that our Management Services asked for volunteers to form a ‘social media group’ which met for the first time in early June. I have volunteered to represent our team as this is something I used to do at MMU and also I have a great interest in social media. It may all change after the next restructure, but we are making a start at reappraising our game plan: looking at examples of good practice and trying not to be too dry in what we do.

Back to the Teachmeet though: the day was a complete success! We all really enjoyed it and the conversations were really good. Lots of good practice was shared: one of the great things was a structured table discussion after lunch where the planning team took a table each and directed discussions about how we support our learners and what approaches we take. These ranged from very simple resources-in-module-sites type approaches, to more extreme online methods of support, such as video conferencing. These have been collated and added to the Teachmeet Libguide in the sharing platter.

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(Photo of table discussion – me attempting to hide behind the water bottle, not successfully! Lots of good discussion going on.)

All in all, a great day. We had a fantastic experience both organising and executing it and we already have plans to run another one. We have a debrief session coming up, where, hopefully we will be beginning to think about where to go next. For me, this was a chance to utilise some dormant skills (organisation of resources, staff and management skills) and to help to facilitate sharing information on a subject that, with the fees conversation still ongoing and looking to stay that way, will no doubt become more of the norm for participating in HE. Watch this space…

 

Finding the lecture theatre…an exercise in following instructions!

So, we are finally at the end of the first full week of the new academic year. It’s been an interesting week, full of new faces and shiny shoes and, of course, the inevitable directionally-challenged students.

Our campus is small. It’s leafy and friendly and we see the same faces day in, day out. The Library is centrally placed in the campus, right next to the (almost) new Heart of the Campus building (the clue is in the name, right?). We’re busy, open 24/7/365 and we provide lots of signposting and friendly signage to help new students navigate their way around. But, inevitably, we still get the odd few who don’t follow instructions, read emails, are just a bit dopey from the late night they had ‘studying’ *cough*.

The Library building also houses one of the campus’s lecture theatres. However, confusingly students cant access it from the library itself. We have a huge sign out the front of the building directing students up the hill towards main building and then round the back of the library, to the lecture theatre entrance. Easy enough, you would think…until someone leans on the sign and covers it up…

We have had so many students this week, either coming into the library and wandering round until some kindly soul asks them what they are looking for and points them in the correct direction (which even then they get wrong). Or they are found wandering around the back of our offices which means we have to bang on the windows to get them to go the right way – very annoying when you are trying to work! Although, it is quite fun to watch them realise they cant get out and try to scramble up the very steep bank outside! The squirrels find it highly amusing too…

I’ve got so fed up though this year, that I asked our management services team to do something about it. That something became a tweet and a blog post…https://blogs.shu.ac.uk/lsss/2017/09/28/finding-mary-badland-lecture-theatre/

So, has it done the trick…well, we had some this morning, but we let them off because it was very early (before 10am) and they are, after all, students. Only time will tell if it has been a success…watch this space…