The Spark(l)ing Constellations of #APConnect

Written by Joss Kang, #APConnect Project Director

The third year of the Education and Training Foundation’s #APConnect programme culminated on 26th March with its most spectacular, energetic and empowering conference to date. Memorably entitled Spark(l)ing Constellations, this was a day for, and about educationalists, professionals, creatives, thinkers, activists, influencers and powerhouses of the future, otherwise known as Advanced Practitioners.

It was an immersive day, in which ideas and practice were shared and personal input encouraged at every turn. Flipgrids, Typeform and Mentimeter surveys, Chat, WhatsApp, Facebook and Twitter responses, and on-camera visibility engaged everyone, not to mention the Thinking Pairs, the ground-breaking Ideas Room, and the glorious treasure hunt.

It was a day for star gazing. There was to be no ‘gobackery’, presenter Lou Mycroft told us: no hankering after a romanticised past but a move to a brave new world in further education, where APs would lead the charge with their shared values, aspirations and energy, and where collaboration would be the order of the day.

APs learnt how to be agents of change through collaboration and how each could:

  • be a professional rather than an employee;
  • be self-directed;
  • work beyond the confines of one organisation…

… and could, thus, be genuine agents of change.

They learnt the central role of reflexion and evaluation as Dr. Christine Donovan and Colin Forrest laid out the process and findings of their own evaluation of the APConnect Programme. And they saw the boundary-spanning, collaborative nature of the AP role.

They saw AP-led presentations, demonstrating practice undertaken. They gazed into the future through the Ideas Room – the largest ever recorded – in which APs in breakout rooms could each share their ideas, according to the ten practice components of the Thinking Environment.

They embarked on a hunt for resources, evaluations and case studies, artifacts and fruits of creativity, practice in using GIFs, or Wakelets, or Podcasts and so much more. They soaked up multi-media presentations, listened to stories, saw colour and animations and wordclouds, cherished Bridget Bircumshaw’s poem, Hive, written specially for them and finally sat, silent and comfortable, for renowned storyteller, Richard O’Neill’s ‘Story of the Day’ which demonstrated the power of narrative and the infinite possibility of open discourse and honest humanity.

It was a day that energised an entire workforce and the accolades poured in on Chat, on Twitter, on WhatsApp, on Facebook. Most importantly it was a day that released its participants into the future as a force for change: energised and purposeful, empowered and professional.  A gift to the FE sector!

A Menti word cloud with the words collaboration, passion and community at the forefront