Tooting my own horn…

In a year which has so far been  filled with sweeping highs and crashing lows, I am delighted to report on one of the “highs” – Winning the Jean Arnot Memorial Fellowship for a piece I wrote called “Many Spokes, Same Hub – facilitating collaboration among library and early childhood services to improve outcomes for children”

If you’re interested, you can view it online here

It was such an amazing day, filled with memories which will last me, hopefully, until I am the age of the honourees (90+) – it was a privilege to share the day with these amazing women, being celebrated for their service to the community. There was a choir, gold rimmed plates, and a table full of amazing people – I sat next to Richard Neville, and also got to have a lovely chat to Rhodanthe Lipsett OAM – holy smokes, there is a woman I could listen to all day long. Her motto, on baby care “No one right way” is one I could learn a lot from, in all areas of life.

I encourage you to go and read more about Rhodanthe here

 

NLS 6 Conference summary

NLS 6 – The journey so far…

Loved…

  • Playing with design protocols
  • Meeting  new people
  • Having people want to come and talk to me because they know me from Twitter
  • Kim and Ashley’s presentation…damn libraries, be cool!
  • Engaging with the #nls6 hashtag
  • Erika’s bananas
  • The lightening talks
  • Marcus’ keynote
  • Ruth’s inspiring words
  • The hands on nature of the workshops
  • The work/life balance talk
  • The sense of camaraderie
  • Presenting in such a supportive environment
  • Exploring Brisbane
  • “Own your role…you’re making an impact

 

Listened to…

  • Ideas about the future of librarians
  • A lot of meaningful chat in the breaks
  • The people who know  way more than I do about so many different things
  • Kathryn and Molly trying to bridge the gap, to help 2 very different sets of LIS professionals connect and give back to one another
  • People talking about the weather… often
  • Ingrid Parent
  • RUTH KNEALE mentioned me in a keynote… ME!
  • The many and varied roles that “librarian” actually covers
  • Ceridwen and I have a great lunch time picnic chat
  • People just like me, finding their way
  • Myself, articulating a vision of my future that I didn’t know was in there
Lost…

  • My way, while exploring Brisbane
  • My nerves…eventually
  • Probably a few kilos – from walking everywhere and the heat!
  • The feeling that I had to do everything by the book or else the walls would come crashing in

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Learnt…

  • To look at who is eating the banana before you snap a (non identifying) pic… it might just be the keynote speaker
  • To embrace your misguided moments and learn from them
  • That being myself is valuable, much more so than trying to be a sanitised version of myself
  • That your professional identity should be unique, yet appropriate
  • That lots of the key words from the conference started with c (connect, collaborate, co-operate)
  • About SLA, which I am super psyched about
  • How important it is to define our terms, so we can engage in meaningful discussion (embed, librarian, important)
  • About GLAM and how we can all work in partnership

Where to from here? ; When I get home, there will be many, many thoughts in my head. Articles buzzing around, connections to follow up on, and of course, all the aspects of work and life and everything that comes with family and relationships and hobbies.

I know that I will go home with many fond memories of food shared with friends, walks taken through the streets of Brisbane, an amazing musical treat (Sarah!) In talking with someone at the conference, I was able to articulate to them and to myself more what my vision was, not just for the foreseeable future in my role, but for the long term.

I truly feel now that I am in a place where opportunities abound, not just standing on the outside looking in. I feel like I’ve arrived in this profession, like this is a place where I have a place. It’s wonderful.

 

Hello darkness, my old friend,
I’ve come to talk with you again,
Because a vision softly creeping in,
Left its seeds while I was sleeping,
And the vision that was planted in my brain
Still remains
Within the sound of silence.

Forgive me Internet, for I have sinned.Today, I performed a disservice to people who are marginaliased and “othered” by our supposedly egalitarian and multicultural society.

I stood by and watched while 3 women, who epitomize white privilege,stood around and belittled a group of marginalized people, without ever having met them, or knowing a thing about them, aside from the fact that they struggled to comprehend information provided to them in English.

Want to know the ironic part? In this denigration, not one but TWO of them, professional women both, in this diatribe mentioned the fact that the care these non English speakers were providing was not up to standard (according to government regulations) and tthey providing help to them was going to be problematic because “they don’t even TALK English”

I stood there, I let their casual racism go unchecked, and I stayed silent in the face of an atrocious abuse of the very language they hold up as the pinacle of greatness. My silence could have been read as compliant acceptance, and for that I’m sorry.

Week 5 Learning Journal – Efacilitation

This week was all about lurkers, learner engagement and how to handle conflict in the online environment. I think in this respect, I’ve been lucky to have been “schooled” about this through participating in an online chat environment for fun. Through observing and learning in this environment, I’ve been able to transfer my learning to an educational environment also.

I linked to the forum etiquette and guidelines on which I would model mine. As I said on the board, there are a number of things I like about this format, not the least of which being that the consequences are spelt out clearly and, one would hope, followed consistently.

The discussion on lurkers was interesting, with the camp coming down firmly on the side of  “lurkers are just shy”. I think having a number of lurkers as a facilitator would annoy me almost as much as it does being a participant. I don’t feel like it’s fair to have one person making all the contributions, doing all the leg work, and then having other’s sit back and say “Yeah, what she said”. Lurking sounds like a synonym for lazy when it comes to academic forums, and nothing annoys me more than when I get the same result for working hard as someone else does for agreeing with me.

Some people might say “why not just sit back and agree then?” but for me, it’s a matter of principle. If I just turn up, agree, and that’s it, is that the best use of my time or of the time of those in my course? Aren’t we all supposed to be here to learn?

Perhaps it comes down to my perception of what learning “looks” like. Maybe other people need more reflection time, or any of the other “perhaps-es” that were brought up in the course. To me, lurkers rub me up the wrong way.

Week 4 Learning Journal – Efacilitation course

Written in Week 6 (ooops!). Week 4 was all about routines, practice, checklists and webquests. I had no end of frustration getting my webquest to work or embed, and ended up using an alternate webquest maker, which was ancient (from 1996!) but did the job.

This isn’t a webquest as such, but it’s a cool visual representation of something I would do – I think my teacher roots are showing. I’m not sure how well I will make the jump from primary – early childhood – now VET. It’s certainly a journey.

I love a good checklist, and was glad to see the checklist and the diary appear in week 4. It was very relateable. The app I use for my checklists is Awesome Note. I love it because it syncs all my notes together, and it’s visually appealing. I am paper and pencil all the way at work though, there is something satisfying about ticking it all off. You can do that on Awesome Note too, but things change much more swiftly for me at work, in terms of priorities, that pencil and paper is totally the way to go.

A very short entry this week I know, but so much of the week was a blur. I think I glanced at it quickly, did the work and then got caught up in an ideological discussion about the role of teachers in a child’s learning experience.

 

 

 

Learning Journal Week 3

This week, we’re learning all about how “socialisation online” works – a topic near and dear to my heart. The longer I pursue the learning in this course, the more glad I feel that I am comfortable “playing” online – I’m a member of a forum, and have been since 2003. We discuss parenting, and it’s been a real community for a long time. People have met up in real life, traded clothes and candy from all around the world, and supported one another through births, deaths, marriages and divorce. Being a part of things like Twitter and forums for “fun” has meant that I’ve picked up a variety of skills that are now beneficial in my work life.

Taking “silence to buzz” is something which comes easily to me online, and I actually prefer communicating online, because I have time to compose my thoughts and link out to things which support my ideas. I think that video, links etc can be a really great way of creating buzz, either in response to topics which are going nowhere, or as a jumping off point to start discussion.

I really enjoyed learning about the 5 stages of online learning, and the 5 stage model – being new to the VET sector, I’m enjoying all the new facets to education which I hadn’t learnt about before. In the 5 stage model, I really think that “providing bridges between… environments” is the key.

The people who I have seen be “successful” online, in terms of engagement and contributions are those who understand that it is a two way street.  Anything you do online must be reciprocal. If you’re a member of a community online, be it constructed (as a participant in an e-course) or voluntary (as a member of a gaming forum for example) you MUST speak as well as listen, you must GIVE (advice, support, feedback) as well as take and you must LEARN as well as teach.

I think the number one key to being a “successful” participant in an online forum is to do the exact opposite of everything mentioned in this article. It’s transparent, it’s annoying, and it isn’t good nettiqute. If you wouldn’t barrel up to me on the street and try and sell me your crackpot scheme/product/idea, don’t come into my (virtual) street and do the same. And if I think you’re here to help, but you’re really here to sell me something? Oh boy, we’re going to have a problem…

Learning Journal Week 2

Part of our course work this week was to read the following report and comment on one part of it

http://www.ncver.edu.au/publications/965.html

There were a few other things I found interesting in the report, and  I wanted to take the time to highlight them here. The first was pedagogy being defined as the art of teaching and learning. This made me think of teachers as artists – and I made an point about not being able to create art just because you have the tools. But it also spun my mind off into the various ways in which teachers practice their art.

This is a cool stop motion video about teaching as an artform, which was really fun to watch, and this is an opinion piece from the Huffington Post – is teaching a science, or an art or trade?

The images below, to me, capture some of what the report is trying to say – initially, e-facilitation was about taking the traditional approach shown in the first picture – teacher/facilitator as information holder, learner as recipients

The second picture is where we are now – we’re trying to get on the same level as the learners, and using symbols and different learning methods (like showing the picture AND touching the ear, and having someone to peer review our facilitation) to try and meet the needs of a diverse learning population…We’re on our way, but not there yet

This third picture represents where we hope to be in the not too distant future – the e-facilitator is at the same level as us, but a little removed. People are learning on all different levels, and there are no “walls” – people are free to look around, see other possibilities and explore.

This final picture is, to me, the hope – the ground is uneven, there are no walls, people are exploring together in a group, some people have a safety net (see the boy with the stick, helping him balance?), and the teacher is right there along side us, exploring with us, and guiding us through our journey

Learning Journal Post – e facilitation Week One

I’ve been lucky enough to have been offered the opportunity to participate in a course, offered through DEFEST, around e-facilitation. As part of the course, we need to keep a learning journal, and I thought, since my blog is here already, I may as well embrace it as a forum for expanding on the learning in the course.

At this early stage (day one week one!) I haven’t had much opportunity to interact with others in the course, but I am sure that will change as things progress. The course presenters have been very responsive so far, answering all my questions quickly. The emails all seem to be aimed at being personal, and you don’t get the “talking to a robot” sense which can sometimes happen with online training.

This is my second experience with higher education through TAFE (or, in this case, TAFElike) and I find it much different to University, which seems very much more focused on theory and academics. At times, the lack of academia in TAFE frustrates me, but it is a much more relaxing way to study. After the TAE I will have another short break before considering the Master of Education (Social Justice in Education) offered through Flinders. More hours in the day would be of use here I have to say!

So, week one. The focus of week one has been around sharpening our thinking about the online experience for our learners in our organisations, and ourselves as individuals – what have their experiences been like so far with online training? Is online a place where they grew up? A place where they live? Do they HAVE to work there or do they CHOSE to play there?

Watching the videos made me think of two that I may have chosen, were I to try and present similar content. The first is the well known Ken Robinson RSA Animate – I think the points it makes about trying to “meet the future by doing what we did in the past” are really valid with regards to the thinking for this course, and it would be a good opportunity to carry the conversation into the realm of higher learning and online education.

The second video I thought of was the video of the young baby using an ipad – it speaks so well to the concept of digital natives – of children who don’t know a world without interactive touch screens, or phones in which you can’t have video conversations with people around the world. The danger is, of course, that parents and educators watching pieces of footage like this will assume that the message is “your child needs an ipad or they will be left behind” – but it isn’t. It’s about the way that our children are “coded” by their life experiences, and that how our job as educators is to meet them where they are, not where we might be.

I’m looking forward to learning and sharing more as the course moves forward.

The politics of pretty, privilege, and power

I’ve been reflecting a lot lately on the notion of privilege, thanks in no small part to a confronting cultural competence session conducted by my organisation.

The session, run by both an Aboriginal and a Caucasian woman, focused on many provocative moments, but one of the most valuable messages I took away was the Peggy McIntosh notion of “the invisible knapsack of white privilege”

I’ve been unpacking this idea (no pun intended – seriously. Yes, I know I wrote it, but it’s there now, and it seems an awful lot of work to go back and change it) and thinking about how pervasive it is in other areas too.

One of the exercises we took part in during the training was to think about what was in our knapsack of white privilege, and to make statements which began with “Because I am white…” (mine was “because I am white I can be good at more than just sports or dancing” If I had more time to think about it, I would have said “Because I am white, I get to be good at more than just sports and performing arts”, because I feel that’s more encompassing, but that’s by the by)

Mentally, and now in print, I’ve been thinking about how often the insidious notions of “pretty” “privilege”  “power” creep into the domain of childhood and education, and how these notions impact on the children in our care.

I’d love to sit here and pretend that every teacher everywhere comes into the classroom with an open mind, free of bias, and ready to do the best they can with what they have where they are, but to do so would be at best naive and at worst downright stupid.

The fact is teachers, like the rest of the world, are human. They have their own agendas, their own unique perspectives and beliefs, and sadly, their own pre conceived notions of how things are going to run in their classroom.

Sadly, some of these preconceived biases mean that teachers are unaware of the doors which have been opened to them by being pretty, or middle class, or white, or any of the other numerous winnings in the lottery of life. Continuing on from these biases then, which have never been raised, never been brought to their attention, just becomes life. They then, fail to see, how they, without checking for the “fringe dwellers” on the other side of their privileges, are being impacted, and the cycle continues.

What I’ve been wondering is how best I can fill the knapsack of the children who aren’t pretty, aren’t privileged and aren’t in the position of having someone coming in from a position of power to bat for them, to even the playing field.

In my classrooms in the past, I’ve gone out of my way to make each child feel as though they have something to offer our room as a collective. Far from embracing the idea that “everyone is the best! Happy stampy yay for everyone!” I’ve asked the children in my room “Who is the best at maths/art/sport/dancing/hugs/braiding/cartooning/singing/walking in a straight line?” Even in Year One, they know. They know they aren’t all the best. They know which group of readers is on the lower books. To pretend they don’t is foolishness, and insulting to their intelligence. When given the freedom to identify “the best”, I’ve found that children relish the chance to not only self identify, but to nominate the greatness they see in others. As a collective, we end up with the notion that everyone in the room has something to offer, that we are unique and individual, but also that our talents combine to make us a special and powerful group of learners. We all have a little piece of ego to carry around with us.

In these “who is the best at…” discussions, I noticed something. Not once ever did “who is the prettiest?” come up. It was a much more insidious thing. Children would identify Khalil as the best runner, but wouldn’t want to sit with him. They would tell me Grace was amazing at making up stories, but they wouldn’t share treats with her at lunch. What was wrong with Khalil and Grace?

Khalil was a foster kid, who was bounced around a lot, who was often out of uniform, and who brought his lunch to school in a plastic bag instead of a lunch box. Grace was “rounder” than the others, and, in a class of “pretty” girls, stood out like a sore thumb.

All the “who is the best at…” discussions in the world weren’t going to change the circumstances of those 2 children, and 100’s like them. I often wondered then, albeit with less clarity then I do now, how do I give them the tools which help them open the doors that are subtlety (and not so subtlety) closed in front of them?

How do we counterbalance for those children who are not “pretty” “privileged” or “powerful?”

 

ALIA 2012 Day One round up

From the time that I walked in I felt energised by just being with library folk. When you’re a solo librarian in a niche specialisation, it can be quite isolating. I do admit to having a brief moment of “colleague envy” when there were a group of ACU delegates just in front of me. It soon passed though.

Having read his book on Slacktivisim, I was especially excited for Dr Chatfield’s presentation, and he didn’t disappoint. So many valuable threads of thought, and his presentation was beautifully put together, both in terms of the visuals, and his speaking style. I kept looking around and expecting to see the TED logo.

The presentation from Sarah Schindler from NLA about mobile service delivery was well attended, and had some interesting statistics. For anyone who was there, I can assure you I am in the “other” 25%.

Following that, I went to the remaining “Are we worth it?” sessions, and found that the TAFE library presentation was more useful to my current position than the first session, but they were both interesting none the less. Plus, the TAFE session had street art, which is always a win in my book.

After a delicious lunch, I went to the customer service hot topics session, which was really awesome. I liked hearing about how Canterbury Library is doing less with more, about how Melbourne Uni have made a real effort to get to know their patrons, and made big in roads with customer service, and about Lindy Mulheron’s life saving librarian skills at Westmead hospital.

Of course, Micheal Kirby’s key note was everything I expected and more besides. Honest, heartfelt, compassionate, open and just. I could have listened to his stories all day, and when he whipped the book out of his belt, a la Quick Draw McGraw? I loved it!

That  said, do you know what the best part of the day was for me? Toss up between 2 unlikely things

1) Talking to the vendors. I was able to connect 2 different vendors to things I am passionate about which also benefit them. Who’d have thought, as “small” as I am to them in terms of $, I was able to give them openings which can help them, which made me feel really good.

2) The welcome to country. It literally moved me to tears. Between the open and interesting discussion of the borders for Eora, and all the different groups within what we call Sydney, to the language of the bodies of the people who shared their dance and song with us, it was the first time that Welcome to Country has felt less like rhetoric and more like genuine welcome.

So looking forward to tomorrow.