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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!

Organising the CPD Exchange: Week #7

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

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about all the events we have in FE – more than we ever used to, or I lived under a rock at Northern College (possible). Since Twitter, they have become a lot more transparent. I love following the hashtag when I can’t physically attend and I get frustrated now if an event doesn’t have a hashtag! Breaking the ‘fourth wall’ of closed events allows for diversity and in particular the voices of those who can’t afford/can’t get free of work/are not empowered to be there.

So as we begin to close on the workshop presentations for #PDNorth2020 I’ve been thinking about two things:

  1. How do we open the workshops up even more effectively to amplify voices in our sector who go unheard? More than ever, with uncertainty ahead, behind and under our feet, it feels important to let new thinking in.

And, given the steep learning curve of the past weeks,

  1. How can we support workshop presenters to create inter-active workshops in a digital space? 

I’ve been dropping into various events and I’ve seen some great practice (and some terrible practice too). I don’t think it’s just me who is finding that screen time is exacerbating my short attention span. Like other ADHDers, when I find flow and focus I can be in it for hours, but there’s something about Zoom which makes that harder to hold onto. When there’s something for me to contribute – a mentimeter, perhaps, or responding to a question in chat, I can pull myself back into the conversation. It needn’t be anything fancy. This is about relationship building, to hear new thinking and ideas. 

I’ll report back progress in a fortnight and I’ll tweet those questions out too. I’d love to know what you think.

Book here for the CPD exchange: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/pd-north-virtual-cpd-exchange-tickets-101550022852

Pages

Events

Reading Circle

#FEreadingCircle

Every other Thursday @8pm

Read and reflect in a thinking environment with FE peers. Read this blog for more information and access the groups reviews of past reads, below:

  • The Promise that Changes Everything by Nancy Kline
  • The Power of Us by David Price
  • Daring Greatly by Brené Brown

Currently reading: Start with Why by Simon Sinek

Contact Chloë for more information and the Zoom link

Tapestry image: Reading Circle

The Northern ESOL Forum in partnership with NATECLA

@NATECLA #ESOLchat

Second Weds of every month @12-1.30pm

Bring your lunch or a cuppa and spend some time with your ESOL colleagues from all over the North of England. We’ll have time in breakout rooms to discuss pressing issues and share experiences, and I’ll share some updates, events and opportunities you might be interested in. Note: you do not have to be a NATECLA member to attend.

Book here

Tapestry image: Northern ESOL forum in partnership with NATECLA

Research Circle

#FEresearchCircle

Last Weds of the month @12-1.30pm

Welcome to the FE Research Circle (formally known as the practitioner action research network) hosted by Dr Vicky Butterby (OTLA) and Chloë. The aim of the FE Research Circle is to provide a supportive space for anyone who is interested or involved in practitioner led research to come and talk about their work and learn from others too. Each month we will explore different aspects of research in FE and post-16 learning, as we come together to grow and develop our research community. Everybody is welcome to attend these sessions (no research experience necessary) and please feel free to bring your lunch too.

Sessions will be held on the last Wednesday of each month, from 12:00-13:30pm (please note the research circle does not run in December, July or August).

To sign up for the research circle, please complete this booking form.

Tapestry image: Research Circle

Try it Here First

#APConnect #JoyFE #FestivalFridays

Every Friday in term time at 12-1pm

This space gives us time together as practitioners to share, explore and try out new ideas. You can be either the presenter or audience (both are as important):

  • Presenter: Use the hour in anyway you like to share a new digital tool, an approach, practice a presentation or try out a CPD session. Let me know if you’d like to present!
  • Audience: Learn something new and support your peers.

Contact Chloë if you’d like more information and the Zoom link.

Tapestry image: Try it Here First in partnership with APConnect

ATS/QTLS Staffroom

#APConnect #JoyFE #FestivalFridays

Every Friday in Term Time @3-4pm

A friendly drop in for queries and general support. Hosted by Phil Green (ATS cohort 3) and Chloë Hynes (QTLS 2011 and ATS cohort 6).

Contact Chloë for more information and the Zoom link

Tapestry image: ATS/QTLS Staffroom in partnership with APConnect

#PDNorth2020

The CPD Exchange 2020

Summer 2020 saw the culmination of our 3 (+) years together as a programme funded by the Education + Training Foundation. To celebrate the past and to look to the future we threw a big party! Whilst we originally planned for the ‘do’ to be held in our three regions with a digital link-up between the three, instead we were restricted to taking the party fully online. We took the challenge head-on and you can read all about it from our events lead, Lou Mycroft starting here.

Like any other conference, you’d expect: a sign-in desk, exhibitions, a main room with keynotes, tweeting, workshops and a chance to network and chat. Using Wakelet as our starting point – we crammed all of that in, and more!

Below is the post-event curated Wakelet including extra resources, feedback, tweets and even workshop recordings from the day.

Enjoy!