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The Answer

I have done 42 Things (according to 43Things). I have 42 pages of photos on Flickr. The school has 42 satin skirts for Hosanna Rock. Am I detecting a theme today? In which case does this mean I should reduce my number of indicative references down to 42 from the current unwieldy 50 odd ?

Thanks to Eve for the image :-)

Posted at 11:02:14 pm by lmhartley
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Found this in the Object Learning Archive Furl
Conversate lets you create instant online discussion spaces. It's simpler, faster, more polite, and less annoying than group emails.
Start Fast
Conversate gives you your own online discussion space for any topic, with anyone you want to invite. It's totally free and ideal for talking about articles or websites and for organizing projects and events.
Has a nice web 2.0 feel to it, RSS for conversations, public, private or limited options, lets you create lists of people for specific topics, and has a bookmarklet so you can just click the tool bar to start a new conversation about a specific web page. I'm very taken with this so far :-)

Posted at 4:59:40 pm by lmhartley
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What have I learned this term so far?

So here we are, half term. Five weeks or so since Ultraversity term started. What have I learned about my learning this year?
My joy at finding some lectures on line about qualitative research alerted me to something. It was such a relief to sit in front of a screen and be passively taught something. Everything that was said was stuff I'd read about before. There were no surprises except my reaction to it. I was happy - it felt like the pressure was being taken off as this person explained things like the different forms of data analysis and the different kinds of notes you need to take in qualitative research. Not rocket science but funny how much clearer they were when he spoke about them than just from reading. It reminded me how much I used to like going to lectures and making my own notes on what the speaker was saying, what a powerful way of understanding concepts that can be. It's a skill I haven't used at all in this degree. It's not the same as making notes from books or papers, not that kind of study. It's more about understanding principles and concepts. In some ways the speaker doesn't have to be as strong academically as an author. They just have to understand what they are talking about and be able to express it clearly.
It seems to me that whilst a lot of my learning as an adult has been experiential and much of it has been social constructivist, there is still room for hearing someone do a 'talk and chalk' lecture sometimes. Hmm

Posted at 8:17:10 pm by lmhartley
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Long time

So long time since I blogged here. I'm not sure the experiment of moving all my non-uni related stuff off to Everything Else was such a great one. It's somehow discouraged me from posting here.
The AE moves along slowly and lumbers in the direction of actually starting. I feel a huge jumble of emotions about it. I regularly panic and decide that it is all too nebulous, and then loose the thread of what I'm doing. Well - that's what panic does, isn't it? Freezes the higher order thinking skills.
That fuzziness is what happens with emergent research though especially at the start. I need to be relaxed with the ambiguities. Have trust that I'm following a sound AE methodology and begin to flow with it. There are the aspects that need to be kept rigid, the methodolgy, the timescales (to an extent), and there are the things that need to be allowed to emerge. Ok that feels better. Now to write a brief questionnaire.......

Posted at 10:22:51 pm by lmhartley
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We went to the museum to see someone dressed up as a Roman. Usually these things are dire but this guy was pretty good, the kids enjoyed it and actually I sort of did too.

I walked back with two of the kids who have major behavioural issues and discovered they both have amazing imaginations. on the way up the big hill out of town they got into this fantasy that we were Celts treking back from the Roman fort and where all around us was a dark forest rather than the grim housing estate. We were hiding from wolves, diving behind trees and holding our breaths, it was great! I was entranced by them and I think they were amazed that this grown up was happy to join in their play and suspend her disbelief. They wrote some amazing stuff about the Roman army this afternoon, these boys who are 'reluctant writers', and drew some powerful pictures. Actually the whole class did. A magical thing, education, when it happens. 

Posted at 7:50:51 pm by lmhartley
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OK first off a warning about the perils of RSS. I wrote a blog entry which was intended to be kept as a draft and not published, hit the wrong button and woosh! So I did the obvious thing and deleted the entry. Fine - no harm done? Wrong! The RSS feed had already been picked up by the Blog of Blogs so now everyone who reads that has been treated to my end of tether moan about feeling like quitting the degree.
The only thing I can say is that 'feeling like quitting' and actually doing it are a million miles apart! I feel like quitting quite a lot of the time and have done for about a year now. However there is absolutely no way that I would actually give in to that feeling. I know from bitter experience what it feels like to walk away in year 3 of a degree and there is no way that I would do that again under any circumstances. So when I say I 'feel like' doing it I am just expressing my feelings of despair, giving vent to them, trying to face them, feel them and not let them have any power over me.
And yes, some of the time I am quite unhappy in my job. My school is not a comfortable place to be these days. There have been some changes in my role that have mean I spend less time supporting children, which is the bit I actually liked, and far too much time supporting teachers, which I don't. It's not an uncommon complaint amongst support staff.

Posted at 7:21:26 pm by lmhartley
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Making a start

Learning outcomes

1. Analyse and critically evaluate prior learning related to current workplace requirements.
2. Identify a research focus and develop a research proposal addressing complex issues in the workplace.
3. Plan learning activities and an investigation towards an exhibition of research findings
4. Critically evaluate the planning process for the exhibition.
So these are where we are going, the Learning Activities are how we are supposed to get there. I'm assuming that I'll have to edit these to suit my own needs and circumstances. I've no idea yet if we will have ILPs this term or not. The current LAs on the site are:
Activity 1

Review key learning that has taken place at level 1 and 2 of the degree course to identify what you have learned. Look specifically at the work you have done in Investigating the Work Setting Modules, the Action Enquiry Modules and your PDP and any other areas that are relevant to you. Identify the issues that you want to research further.
OK - so that doesn't need much editing, just need to remember that my priorities take precedence over those of the workplace, re-visit my personal mission statement etc.

Learning Set Task 1:
Communicate the key areas you have researched in the degree course and indicate which area(s) you intend to further research this year. Give critical feedback to other researchers key areas.

Hmm Hard to even start this with no official learning sets available yet. Best to use the Beehive I think. Stuff can always be copied and pasted into official learning sets later if the LFs insist on splitting us up for those.

Posted at 10:24:41 pm by lmhartley
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The same old voice but now I don't believe it.

The Inner Critic and how to face her.
So I had a moment over the last few days when I decided that there was in fact no way I could complete the degree, that "they" (Ultraversity, the school, the builders, life etc.) had in effect made it impossible for me to finish. This was devastating and instead of trying to ignore it, pretending this wasn't how I felt, I tried to face it head on. And there it was - or rather there she was: The Inner Critic (in Transactional Analysis terms.) That destructive inner voice that uses my own logic against my best interests, the voice that tells me I'm a sham, a fraud, that one day 'everyone will realise how worthless you are', the voice that a therapist I once knew, in a masterful example of understatement, described as 'not a very nice person'!
The thing about this inner voice that I learned long ago is that as soon as you face it head on, rather than try to ignore it, it starts to lose its power. My friend Carole used to say that you just listened to everything bad it had to say about you, mentally say 'thank you for sharing that", and then get on with whatever it was you needed to do to move on. Sound advice then, and now.
So the next thing is to look not at what I cannot do but at what I can. Doesn't sound like much of a change but it will make a huge difference to the way I look at this coming year.
This means that I can start to move on. I have talked extensively with Eve and Andy and begun to explore where my control is rather than where it is not. Given my stated interests I made this mind map and then talked it through:

As I'm keen not to focus on teaching skills then I must needs focus on my Network Learning post. During a conversation with Eve last night something began to rattle around and by 2am (It was hot, I couldn't sleep!) it was forming into the start of a possible direction.
What do I bring to the collaborations of the group? What is my contribution? Maybe I can explore the relationship between my growing understanding of AE and the impact this has on the character of the cluster. I think I need to look at this more carefully. It seems quite nebulous but what I think I'm looking at is the area of the impact that my involvement in the degree has had and continues to have on the network. Does this sound possible?

Posted at 8:36:11 pm by lmhartley
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Research Ideas?

Areas of interest as identified in year 2 (From LWP2):
So my degree work for the next year will need to meet both my personal needs for transferable skills and any needs that arise in my workplace.
The broad areas to concentrate on are:
Behaviour management: using ILM2 to identify and compare possible strategies and then building on my findings through reflective practice in my learning journal.
Knowledge base : focussing on multiple intelligences.
Using ICT to enhance creativity focusing on the potential uses of blogs, wikis, RSS and multi-media.
Understanding pupil needs (ADD, dyslexia & dyspraxia, Aspergers.): exploring barriers to learning.
Display skills : both traditional and digital, important for my degree exhibition and possibly as a transferable skill.
Leadership: look for ways to increase my leadership skills and take any opportunities as these arise.
From yr 1:
Report One:
The areas I'd be interested in researching further are:
Behaviour management
( although other people saw it as a strength I would like to look at some of the theoretical basis for what we do and alternative approaches),
Current status : covered in my ILM 2 - concluded that this was really a whole school issue where individual interventions could have only limited impact.
Knowledge base
focussing on individual learning styles & literacy, possibly multiple intelligences. (I'm looking at that for PAL anyway)
Current status : Looked at in RW2 and ILM1- again issues with what is under my control arise. I cannot implement strategies as I cannot be sure I'll be able to see them through.
ICT programmes used in the school .
Current status : Little opportunity for this has arisen, informal chances taken as and when.
Unlikely to be any chance for this in yr 3 due to timetable changes - all ICT now covered by one teacher during a time when I am involved in other duties.
I'd like to look at ways of improving teacher / SSA communication.
Current status : Basis of my first AE
Not something I'd willingly look into in any more depth.
Understanding pupil needs
( again I scored well but I'd like to look at specific problems like ADD & Dyspraxia in more depth.)
Current status I was still collecting information about this, for possible use in Year 3.
none of the children I will be working with this coming year have any of these problems.

Therefore the areas to focus on must be:
Display skills :
both traditional and digital, important for my degree exhibition and possibly as a transferable skill.
(slightly done to death in my ILM1 and AE2 - very little extant literature and a limited field of interest to draw a potential audience from)
Leadership: look for ways to increase my leadership skills and take any opportunities as these arise.
(hard to see how to make this into something with clear cycles, planning etc.- also problem with finding audience interested in a first person research enquiry. I'm still not that comfortable with the idea either!)

Finally, sadly, this is the one that might actually interest me but which I can see no way of doing:
Using ICT to enhance creativity
focusing on the potential uses of blogs, wikis, RSS and multi-media
Issues of lack of control over my time/timetable make this one totally impractical.

Potential ideas however silly or impractical currently welcome as I have hit a brick wall.

Posted at 6:39:40 pm by lmhartley
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LF involvement in Year 3

I'd no idea the LFs intended to have such a 'hands on' role in year 3. This is very different to my experience so far. I have not been in the habit of sharing drafts with my LF. I've had some e-mail conversations with him. He's not made detailed comments in negotiating my ILMs or ILPs much beyond approving them. This isn't a complaint. I quite like this 'hands off' approach. Sounds like this is going to change considerably next year.
The reluctance to engage may well come from me rather than from him. He tended to make suggestions that were helpful to the majority of researchers when he first became my LF towards the end of year 1. The trouble was they often didn't fit my context so I suppose I stopped paying attention to them. When I have asked for guidance he has responded. More often I haven't asked for help. This is partly because I don't like to, I know that there are other people who need his attention much more than I do. I feel a lack of entitlement I suppose. I get high marks, and mostly I do it on my own. That's not entirely true, Andy and Eve are the people I turn to for assistance and guidance. They are the ones I bounce ideas off. They are, as I have told them before, my learning facilitators. Trouble is much though I appreciate them they are my peers and often don't know any more than I do what to try next. I suppose that's partly because when I do try to bounce ideas off my LF he just responds positively. BANG! I just realised it's the same way the kids react when you give them non-specific praise. They feel like they are not being heard and that's how I feel about my LF. In fact some of this sounds very like the way our higher achievers often feel in the classroom.
One of my identified needs in my action plan for year 3 is to make more use of my LF. I just don't know how to go about it.

Posted at 8:39:07 pm by lmhartley
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