Hello

New for 2018/19, this will be the space where PD North members and some special guest Bloggers will share ideas and experiences. Watch this space and, if you would like to write a Blog for us, on the topic of further / adult community education and skills, please contact Chloë at chloeh@pdnorth.org.uk

Writer Guidelines:

WORD: 300 – 1,000 words. Keep it short and engaging. Something folks can read in their break, on the bus or in the staffroom when they have a spare moment.

STYLE: Flexible. We’re interested in: Voices from the classroom/staffroom. Resource explorations. Reviews of books, blogs and events. Think pieces. Descriptions of PDNorth exchange activity. Critical thoughts.

REFERENCES: If you choose to mention other people’s work, events, videos, resources etc please reference them and give them the kudos they deserve.

The Potential of the Pivot

by Elizabeth Hillier for the NW English PEN

Lockdown has certainly posed its fair share of challenges for English teaching in FE. Post-lockdown and with the prospect of social distancing being a practical concern in a classroom that traditionally relies on the distribution of pens, paper, highlighters, texts as well as the close peer and group collaboration that is needed to create a lively learning environment, September seems as uncertain as ever.

However, maybe this ‘pivot’ maybe the opportunity needed to embed hybrid learning in the English classroom? This prospect is also a scary one especially as there are questions such as: how will it look? how can it be facilitated? how can learning be effective in two different teaching environments? The biggest question is that concerning digital poverty and how we can best serve all of our learners to make sure the curriculum we offer is inclusive, creative and engaging.

Whilst Senior Leadership Teams have the uneviable task of trying to accomodate all of these different scenarios, as an English teacher I have decided that whatever the hybrid model at our college looks like, I want to make sure that my learners enjoy a subject that lends itself well to two different environments. Therefore I have set myself 3 key principles to adhere to:

  • The learning drives the technology and not the other way around
  • Keep the digital aspect of a hybrid curriculum simple and straightforward
  • Don’t reinvent the wheel! Draw ideas from colleagues locally and nationally and look at good practice.

The FTE has also provided “Free webinars to support online learning for practitioners and their learners” which I have found to be incredibly useful. 

Over the past few weeks I have heard the following quote from Vladimir Lenin quite a lot:

“There are decades where nothing happens: and there are weeks when decades happen”.

Lenin

Lots of colleagues have fully adhered to this notion and whilst we all feel tired with ‘digital fatigue’, undoubtedly we will power through. 

This sector has the resilience, collaborative working patterns and determination to make whatever comes our way in September, be successful. 

 

Organising the CPD Exchange – Week #13

A weekly blog on lessons learned by PDNorth Events Lead, Lou Mycroft

We’re here – the final event blog for 2020. I settled down with a cuppa to read back through them and read the story of lockdown – or at least one of the stories. I can remember writing the first blog in a state of disbelief, I might even say denial. I’ve actually not left the house since that day except to visit my mum (I’m her carer) and run once a week down on the industrial estate. Now, all the signs were there. Then, we were only starting to imagine cancelling an event, never mind suspending life-as-usual.

The great thing about next Friday is that we have learned so much in the preceding fourteen weeks we’re almost calm! Were these the three physical events we’d planned, we’d be obsessed with stuff: the plastic detritus of free pens and trinkets, endless printing and stuffing folders, plastic tablecloths and bunting. I mean no disrespect if getting a gift bag makes a difference to you, but to me – now, with the perspective I have – it’s just so much publicly-funded landfill.

We hope that the gift you’ll experience on the day is the joy of communicating with others. My work during lockdown has become all about joy – not the brief happiness of a free notebook but the genuine lasting joy of spending time with others. The workshops are all so different from one another that it should be a day of real luxury learning: not ‘have to’ but ‘want to’. And we’ll make sure there is thinking space also.

Myself, Chloe and Vicky Butterby will be working alongside one another again tomorrow afternoon, on the finer details of the day and we’re hoping others of the team will drop in. We’re designing collaboration in wherever we can, also celebration of our three glorious years of PDNorth. And although we are expecting 100 people there’s still time to squeeze yourself in if you want! 

See you on Friday!

Organising the CPD Exchange: Week #11

A weekly blog on lessons learned by PDNorth Events Lead, Lou Mycroft

It turns out that our appetite for planning the Big Day is undiminished and as the 26th June approaches, Chloe and I meet on Zoom (or, on one occasion, accidentally in Google Hangouts), to work side-by-side on the detail of the day.

Neither of us have ever worked this way before and it’s very comforting, to hear the click of the other’s keyboard and those domestic noises in the background – cats, babies, washing machines. Chloe comments that it’s something you miss about physically working with other people and although I would always work at home whenever I could, I find myself agreeing. Maybe someone could produce an ‘office working sounds’ AMSR*. Maybe they always have.

This stage is always about getting the details right and it’s lovely to be co-writing into our shared planning doc, occasionally interrupting one another to say, ‘Would this work?’ One of the challenges of going digital is not falling into the trap of exactly replicating what we would do if we were together physically. I’ve come to realise that the thing we need to replicate is the feel – of being welcomed, stimulated, encouraged etc – and we might choose different digital means to meet those ends.

We always like to work with a question for the events – something broad, which helps hang the workshops together. Post-lockdown, the question almost asked itself, but we’ve got an over-arching ask: what does PDNorth mean to you? We’ll be finding different ways of asking this of not only you, delegates, but of everyone peeking in and tweeting from the outside. And speaking of delegates, we’ve got 121 people signed up and growing! 

We’re nearly there. Next week is about checking in again with the presenters, making sure they have all they need and that they are feeling confident enough to look forward to the day. We never want this to be a trauma for anyone and we’ve learned in the past that just a twenty minute coaching intervention can make all the difference when banishing that pesky ‘Impostor Syndrome’.

So, 14 days and counting! If you’ve not signed in and you want to come along, you can find the link here…if you are coming, we look forward to spending the day with you. And we might just squeeze out another little blog between then and now!

*white noise for relaxation. I love rainy day sounds and washing machines. Some people like scratching fingernails – eek!