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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