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‘Enterprise Education’ Category

  1. Step by step, animal by animal: The first year of my PhD

    18 December 2019 by shartley

    Andy, the kitten

    A dog chasing its tail

    My PhD topic is about investigating enterprise education via three case study schools. I thought coming up with a topic and presenting it in a formal proposal process was going to be the great significant start to my PhD with everything ready to rock and roll from there. I was wrong.

    In February, I presented my supervisors with my research concept and then they suggested trying a different angle. I spent a couple of weeks pulling that idea together and then at the next meeting, it was decided a slightly different approach would be better, so again, I spent two weeks twisting the words and concepts around. This pattern continued for over two months when finally we landed back to where we started. I sat in that meeting, feeling like my jaw was on the floor. I’m not sure they were aware just how much we were back at the original idea I presented. Yes, it was a little annoying. However, there were many benefits from taking this circuitous journey. It meant other options could be discounted; it meant my supervisors knew I had thought long and hard about what I was doing; and it helped to clarify and hone the concept. I then had just a few weeks to put together my written proposal and then my presentation.

    Sharks

    In early May I pitched my PhD proposal to a boardroom of academics and supportive fellow PhD students. I normally make presentations with just some sketched out notes in my hand but this time I had the whole speech written out and I read it almost to the letter. I needed to do it this way to make sure I didn’t miss anything. I think I still kept a reasonable amount of eye contact and I strangely felt the comfort of knowing I was doing a much better job than I had a year earlier with my Master of Research (MRES) proposal. This time I understood more academic theory and addressed theoretical frameworks in detail. During the Q&A session at the end, an academic commented how different I was this time and asked if I could explain. At the MRES proposal I employed a tactic to overcome nerves by being an exuberant presenter, I suppose to compensate for the weaknesses I felt academically. I basically replied to this effect and a sage nod was returned by the academic.

    When the general Q&A was over, five people remained with me: the coordinator of PhD students in Education, my supervisors and my two official reviewers (academics) who had gone through the written version in detail before the presentation. By this time I was exhausted but had to concentrate hard to absorb the feedback being given. The funniest moment was when one of the reviewers said there were a lot of fins in my proposal. My brain did a word association of fins to sharks but couldn’t understand what he meant about sharks circling around my work. He repeated the statement. I was still bamboozled. The third time he changed his wording slightly and I suddenly realised he meant I referenced a lot of Finns, academics from Finland!

    Overall the advice was very helpful and the PhD coordinator (who I hardly knew at this point but have come to deeply appreciate) was probably the most practical help. Again my befuddled brain had trouble comprehending what was being said. Eventually I understood she had a brilliant idea for my budget timing. You see, at my university, we PhD candidates have up to $3000 each year to fund our research and my research was going to involve a lot of travel. She suggested that I book as much as I can in 2019 for travel in 2020, otherwise I’d be considerably out of pocket in 2020. This was great advice but is my current headache. More on that later.

    A kitten

    There are four levels of feedback classifications for a PhD proposal. The first is an all clear, full steam ahead with what you proposed. The second is that the proposal is accepted with some minor changes that the supervisors oversee and the reviewers sign-off. The third level requires major changes that the reviewers must examine in detail. And the last brings into question whether you should be doing your PhD at all. My proposal received the second level. My supervisors tried to comfort me about not reaching the top level but I didn’t need comforting. Actually, I was very happy. I knew that my study was always going to be too complicated for an easy approval and also, my reviewers had been chosen specifically to provide thorough feedback. When I looked back at my reaction, I realised the MRES journey had prepared me well for ego bruising in the quest for perfection. My supervisors want what’s best for my PhD, not what’s going to soothe my ego in the short term. I adopted a kitten on the way home as a reward and a comfort. And indeed he has become an amazing companion.

    I took less than a fortnight to make the required changes to my proposal and thought, right, I’m on my way. But no, ethics approval hurdle was next.

    Humans

    When your research involves contact with other humans, approval from a university ethics committee is required. It took some time to put the ethics application together. Almost all students and staff who have been through the process complain bitterly about it. However, I didn’t mind it so much (and no, I haven’t been drinking). Having to spell everything out for ethics approval makes you think in more practical terms the very act of going around, actually doing your research. It was tedious putting together the numerous participant information and consent forms for everyone who is going to be involved in my research but a necessary evil. I had been warned to complete the application form in a Word document because the new online system was shaky and rumour told of people who kept losing their work in the process. The only online issue I had was not receiving the supposed automated email when they had completed the review. I deeply felt the loss of two weeks in which I could have been moving forward. I was able to reasonably quickly address the 20 items brought to my attention and thankfully, the committee then gave their approval within a day or so.

    Right, I thought, the hardest part is over, I can move onto recruiting my three case study schools.

    Kelpie

    Sending emails, reminder emails, playing phone tag, seeking more ethics approval and employing other communication methods to recruit three case study schools made me feel like an online sheepdog. I know from experience how busy teaching can be but when you are the one being overlooked, it is hard to be patient. One school, where my contact was the principal, was great. He agreed to the study almost from the first instance but first I had to go through their school system’s ethics process. After doing the ethics application for uni, this one wasn’t so hard and they were quite prompt at approving too. One down, two to go.

    I had to send a few reminder emails to my contact at another school but eventually I received the go ahead to go through their school system’s ethics process. This was even quicker than the one before and after more patient waiting, the principal signed up. Two down, one to go.

    The school I wanted most of all was very slow at returning email, although better than the school who didn’t reply at all to my two attempts. As I waited for this school I managed to contact another and talked over the phone to the enterprise coordinator. Their program wasn’t as big as I hoped and wondered if I was doing the wrong thing when I said they weren’t appropriate as a case study school. I did say I’d like to stay in contact though. I might end up interviewing the coordinator as an additional voice in the enterprise education story. At last, right at the end of the school year, the principal of the school I wanted, signed on the dotted line with the university’s ethics approval being sufficient.

    Right, the tough part, recruitment, was over. Now I could really begin.

    A flying kangaroo

    By the time the third school had signed up I had already sat down with the first school for a planning meeting and had scheduled a day with the second school. The first planning meeting was another moment where I felt, finally, the PhD had really commenced. Despite all my nerves beforehand, I had a really enjoyable and productive chat with the principal and we put some plans in place. Phew!

    The day booked with the second school was interstate so I flew there and back. Unfortunately I travelled not by the flying kangaroo, Qantas, but by Jetstar. I’m a bit of a snob when it comes to airlines and I have lounge access with Qantas so I was disappointed to be flying out of the wrong terminal, not that I had time anyway, due to the awfully long queues. For the return trip, the queues were even worse because Jetstar’s IT system was down, resulting in a two hour delay and only 10 minutes to scoff breakfast in the lounge. I’m lucky that I have a brother to provide free accommodation reasonably near this school but have to keep the visit short so I don’t have too much personal time reduce the university funding. This visit was not only for a planning meeting but to conduct my first three interviews too. My primary, hands-on, practical research was actually commencing; ten months after my PhD officially started, seven months after the proposal. This was also nerve wracking. As I sat in the school’s boardroom, interviewing and planning next year with the three key people involved in the enterprise education of the school, at times I felt spaced out and overwhelmed but also excited. The PhD was actually happening!

    I now have to transcribe the interviews which I recorded on three different devices to determine which would be best for future interviews. Of course it had nothing to do with my phone running out of juice, or the Handy Recorder not working without being plugged into power (turns out, through poor communication between my husband and myself, it had no batteries in it at all).

    A budgie

    The most difficult time I’m having right now is budgie, I mean budget, related. Since it took so long to recruit schools and have initial meetings with them (not that I’ve met with the third school yet), I haven’t been able to book any travel for next year. The first school that was so quick to become a part of my study is local, so no expense against my budget there. The other two schools are interstate. The planning meeting last week allowed me to schedule dates for the observation phase of my research. All my schools conduct enterprise education on a weekly basis which is good in terms of a consistent approach by the schools but bad for my budget because I will need to be a bird, flying in and out of two other states. I tried to book five trips (10 flights) through the arduous bureaucratic process that is administration at university as soon as I could. First they said bookings made for next year counted against next year’s budget, not the current year. I told them how the PhD Coordinator had informed me otherwise. Then they said they were too busy to arrange all the travel I’d requested. Then when I asked for just one or two trips to be booked before the end of the year, I was just told no, I had to wait until next year.

    Well, over the weekend I stewed about it and did my sums, calculating at least $6000 in travel next year, so if I could move $2500 to this year’s budget instead of being out of my own pocket, I was damn well going to fight for it. I sent an email to my supervisor and admin, begging for the trips to be pushed through. An automatic reply informed me the head of admin for the department had left the university. Forever. No wonder she had squashed the idea! I am now waiting for her assistant and my supervisor to respond, hoping against all hope these flights will be booked.

    Ding! My email alert. Just as I was writing that last paragraph. Good news? I see the words “We are pleased to advise…” and I am joyous. And then my heart sinks. It is only to declare that I have been deemed to have made satisfactory progress in my Annual Progress Review (APR), on the basis of a form my supervisor and I submitted months ago.

    The APR report mentions something about the confusion with my scholarship. Last year I had a scholarship. Word was that if you achieved at least 85 marks for your MRES thesis you kept the scholarship. I received an 89. Woohoo! But no, I found out a month after receiving my result, that it wasn’t the case. I should have read the fine print of the scholarship rules and regulations more closely. These days the government scholarship is worked out on a competitive basis across the university and I was informed it was a particularly competitive year. Doom and gloom took hold! I worked more in casual teaching to pull in some extra money but it was far short of what we thought we were going to have to help pay the mortgage on our new house.

    Then, in July, I received a call to say I was going to have the scholarship again but just for Semester 2, funded by the university. It took two months for payments to actually start, with backpay, and then I was told it was now approved for the duration of my PhD, assuming I submit according to the scheduled due date (February 2022). Then, just this week, I was told I had now moved from a department university funded scholarship to a government funded scholarship, the same as I was on in the first place. Now hasn’t that been a fun ride!

    Slug

    The key moments of my PhD this year have been significant but otherwise I feel I have been rather sluggish in approach, particularly compared to the intensity of my MRES. For instance, I have been periodically working on a systematic literature review but with no looming deadline, I have done a rather poor job of it. Particularly now I have written this piece, I know I have accomplished a lot but I feel I’ve let myself down when it comes to keeping up with this literature review and reading in general. I am going to turn this sluggish approach to slugging it out as soon as I can in the new year. See what I did there! Haha.

    Wish me luck!

    I wonder what animals will link to my PhD next year.


  2. Business Savvy Girls

    28 January 2019 by shartley

    L-R: Jenny, Alexia, Lara, Shani, Zoe, Bella and Vivian

    I have known Jenny since we were five years old, when a little over a kilometre separated our houses on the edge of Wagga Wagga. We were best friends or worst enemies throughout our schooling due to our similarities and competitive streaks. After school we went our separate ways but over time our similarities have brought us together again. Jenny is passionate about financial literacy, particularly for women and children. I am passionate about improving the agency of young people by empowering them with a range of skills to navigate their path in the world. I am so pleased Jenny asked me (as part of my Think Learn Act business) to help her produce the Business Savvy Girls Workshop, which we conducted over the last three days of this week (23-25 Jan 2019). The program was designed for young women to discover and develop their passions, skills and attributes to build a business idea upon. We based it loosely on the Design Thinking model and used the Lean Canvas template for fleshing out their business concepts further. Activities included business idea prompts, creating an example of a customer (drawn, named and given characteristics) and website development. We discussed legal requirements, networking and promotional activities. The three days culminated with our participants presenting three minute business pitches at a lunch with a number of local business women who provided wonderful advice, guidance and encouragement.

    Zoe understood and grasped the pitch concept quickly and well

    Alexia, Bella, Lara, Vivian and Zoe are amazing young ladies who invested time and energy from 9am to 4pm each day with only two half hour breaks on the first two days and no breaks on the last day. The air conditioner struggled to process the near constant 40℃ outside. Alexia was already on the business path with her business, Dislexia, running on a Facebook page. The business name is a play on her name but after choosing it found she was indeed dyslexic and had misspelt it. During the workshop she started designing a logo with the D back to front in Canva’s logo design tool. She has plans for major expansion and diversions. The youngest, aged 12, was already running an online business with her Dad but came up with her own ideas and extra confidence through the workshop. Common across the ideas being developed at the workshop was concern for community, communication and the more disadvantaged in society. These young women are definitely social entrepreneurs, very focused on developing businesses with a conscience.

    Meghan shows cattle and needs to look good from the showground to formal dinners.
    Her jewellery needs to be cheap and preferably environmentally friendly.
    The vision is for scrap bale twine to be melted down and made into jewellery through a 3D printer.

    The participants did a two minute pitch before lunch on the first day but most only reached a minute or so and were pretty laid back. Twenty-four hours later they did a second attempt. They were visibly more nervous in manner but the business ideas and depth of information provided had much improved. One went for the full two minutes. I provided a rough scaffold to refine the approach: outline the customer and the problem(s) they face, describe how the business will solve the problem(s) and have strong branding (what the business stands for). On the last day they had three hours to finalise their Lean Canvas sheets and a three minute pitch. One of the participants had a reasonable business idea the previous day but at the start of the final day she apologetically confessed to having changed her approach somewhat. She had gone home and thought more about her passions, applied them to her business and ended up with a brilliant concept. I was so proud. I was proud of all of them.

    Deep thinking

    We didn’t time the pitches to the business women but they were all on the money. Not only that, the questions posed by the business women didn’t seem to faze them. They knew their concepts thoroughly and provided thoughtful and intelligent responses. They were open to suggestions and after the formal session was over, talked further with the experienced and wise. The business women gradually and reluctantly left, blown away not only by the business ideas, but the hearts and minds of those who held them.

    For me, it was such a joyful experience to see the growth and development of our young women. On a more personal note, it seemed my friendship with Jenny that commenced when we were five had completed a full circle. Even though we both have a lot going on in our lives, we worked seamlessly together on this workshop. At the beginning of the week I found out that I wasn’t awarded a scholarship for the PhD I commence this year when I felt quite certain I had achieved enough to receive it. My husband and I are also struggling to finance a house we are contracted to buy, despite achieving pre-approval for the amount we require. However, Jenny went through the last days of her mother’s life this week. Her Mum passed away peacefully as the family sat around in vigil in the early hours of Friday morning. Yet, Jenny only missed a couple of hours on the Thursday afternoon and the Friday morning of the workshop due to the importance she places on empowering young women. Working together this week was meant to be.

    Many thanks to the Agritech Incubator at Charles Sturt University, particularly Siobhain Howard, for hosting us and providing food and other forms of support. Also much appreciation to our business women, Emma GrantLeonie McCallum, Lauren EcclestonPennie ScottVickie Burkinshaw and Anne Reardon of Allegro Ballet School. 

    NB This post also appears on my more personal blog: https://squibsandsagas.blogspot.com/2019/01/business-savvy-girls.html


  3. Education – my thinking

    12 November 2018 by shartley

    I was recently challenged by someone to add more of my own thinking to this blog, given that recently it has been more about other people’s voices. So sitting in my gorgeous hotel in Bath, occasionally looking out the window (view in image above) for moments of contemplation, I have bashed out where my head is currently at re education and my PhD. By the way, for my more general thoughts, less education related, I have a writing blog too. Often the lines blur so the decision as to where to post can be quite the quandary.

    So here goes.

    I am passionate and quite emotionally tied up with:

    1. Students’ gaining agency through education so they feel empowered to make choices and decisions about their own lives and believe they can have an impact on the people, communities and societies around them.
    2. Creating a broad curriculum that students value and engage in.
    3. Implementing pedagogy that enables students to value and engage with the curriculum.
    4. This generally means the curriculum needs to be relevant to real life in terms of what is being learnt, how it is learnt and how it is assessed.
    5. Also means that there is a need to not only focus on students’ attainment on knowledge but also their development of skills, attributes, competencies, capabilities, and other closely related terms.
    6. Breaking down the restrictions, barriers and the risk levels teachers feel, to enable students to learn and acquire the knowledge, skills and attributes they need now and into the future.

     

    Thus, there are several areas in education that really make me angry and frustrated.

    1. Teachers who just want to deliver information to compliant students.
    2. People outside the profession who think education is merely about delivering information to compliant students.
    3. The lack of recognition that to do more than deliver information takes time and energy.
    4. The teachers who think their innovative teaching method is the one and only way. Teaching needs to be fit for purpose.
    5. Schools that promote themselves as being a “PBL school” or some other particular method of learning annoys the hell out of me. Teaching needs to be fit for purpose.
    6. Students and their families who focus on the final grade at the end of over a decade of education and not appreciating learning for its own sake. This is exemplified by students who say “just tell me what I need to know”.
    7. Schools and teachers who cater to students and families’ single-minded focus on grades and/or want to maintain an outdated image of compliant students sitting in rows, working in silence.
    8. The confines of prescribed curriculum reducing teaching to a tick-box approach to covering material.
    9. Curriculum that claims in overarching statements at the front of documents that they are achieving a range of knowledge, skills and attributes through that curriculum and then in the back end, reduce teaching to be mainly about the mere delivery of knowledge.
    10. Dichotomies in education that reduce concepts to either/or concepts. I am sometimes guilty of buying into some of them in my research and writing. I am particular against the ideas of traditional versus progressive teaching and knowledge versus skills and attributes. Again, it’s about teaching that is fit for purpose. Fit for the knowledge, skills and attributes being sought, fit for the students undertaking the learning and fit for the context and available resources.
    11. The terms “non-cognitive skills” and “soft skills”, as if leadership, creativity, interpersonal skills and so on, do not require thinking and hard work to develop and improve.
    12. The term “21st century skills”, as if these skills have only been needed for the last 18 years and not before. How ridiculous!
    13. Socio-economic inequities in education. I have worked in four private schools with various level of fees and funds to expend. My own children went to private schools for the most part. Despite my own actions and behaviour, I desperately want public schools to be better resourced. Technology adds to the socio-economic gap in education and yet I am still an advocate for technology in teaching because it is such an integral part of our lives. I worry how much education adds to income inequality in our society.
    14. Other inequities in education that occur on the basis of gender, race, learning difficulties and much more.
    15. STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) currently being valued so much more than the Humanities. Is it really to cater for a job market (and thereby treating education as the mere creation of human capital)? Or is it about reducing the amount of critical thinking about societies, communities and the people within them?
    16. The treatment of education as if it is about producing human capital. I will acknowledge there is an element of that occurring because it is inescapable in a capitalist society but there is so much more to education than this!

     

    This thinking informs the research I want to undertake for my PhD.  It has led me to Enterprise Education which has the potential to encompass all that I desire in education. I also resist the wholesale embracing of capitalism and therefore would prefer if Enterprise Education did not overly feature entrepreneurship and financial gains. To me, Enterprise Education is about developing students’ enterprising skills and attributes in the broadest sense, allowing all students to flourish. I want to discover the best objectives, curriculum, pedagogies and assessment processes in Enterprise Education that is conducted at a scale beyond the classroom, at a whole grade level, preferably more than a one-off experience but a whole year program. I would love to just submerge myself in a few of these programs and analyse what works best.

    Attending the ISBE Conference last week was a fantastic immersive experience in the thinking of a whole bunch of amazing people working in this area but it also added to the imposter syndrome monster within me. My struggle is the more academic aspect of doing what I want to do. I need to work out theoretical approaches/lenses and frameworks. This is what keeps me awake at night and occasionally drives me to tears. Am I ever going to get my head around this stuff? Am I ever going to be able to produce good quality academic work that can make a difference in education by influencing curriculum and helping teachers to happily do the best for their students? Well, that’s my dream. I’m sure once I have a grip on the academic theories I will be able to analyse and write and have a voice in the arena but right now there’s a huge wall in front of me. I have ten days to write a decent PhD proposal, including a literature review, while I also enjoy the pleasures of being a tourist as I finish up in Bath, go to Prague, and then head home. I know, tough life and all. I will submit a proposal at the end of this time but it won’t be anywhere near the quality I desire unless an epiphany occurs.

    Soon this initial hurdle will be behind me and I won’t have to think on it until the PhD truly commences in 2019. In the meantime, back home, I’ll be preparing for Christmas and finding somewhere new to live (long story). I am looking forward to hosting a party for my fellow post-grad education researchers, visiting family in Adelaide, going to the cricket and tennis, reading for pleasure and experiencing the glorious heat and sun of summer in Sydney, Australia.

    PS My playlist (shuffled) as I wrote this post.


  4. A PIECE of ISBE 2018

    11 November 2018 by shartley

    7-8 November ISBE Conference

    My first communication outside the Twitterverse with Dr Colin Jones was an hour long phone conversation back in March or April about my MRES topic. When I mentioned I was presenting on Enterprise Education (EE) in Cologne, he suggested I also attend the ISBE conference in Birmingham the following week, since I was in the area. At the conference, Colin introduced me to his friends/contacts which led to many interesting conversations. We also had time to continue our discussions about EE and my possible research focus, which were extremely valuable and enjoyable.

    Anyway, here’s A PIECE of what I appreciated most from the conference.

     

    ACTIVITY

    I enjoyed the idea Dr David Higgins presented about the need for EE to be researched as an activity (verb) and our own involvement, as opposed to the clinical scientific arms-length approach that describes human activity in concrete terms (nouns) instead of their actions/emotions/motivations/thinking/etc .

     

    PEOPLE

    People I knew via Twitter came to life at the conference:

    Dr Kelly Smith – I love how passionate she is about EE  and she introduced me to the term Pracademic.

    Andrea Lane – a knowledgable and thoughtful person who makes me think deeper.

    Matt Rogers-Draycott – Matt first came to my attention just a few months ago when I read an older article he co-authored. I did a series of tweets about it because I just love his thinking and approach to EE.   

    Catherine Brentnall – I had a few but brief chats with Catherine at the conference. She didn’t have much luck while she was there. For instance, a taxi driver took her to McDonalds for the Gala Dinner instead of the Macdonald Burlington Hotel and she had a tummy bug on the last day resulting in her having to leave as soon as she presented her paper. However, I’m sure this friendship will continue to grow over Twitter.

    Prof Nigel Adams – In discussion on the walk to and during the gala dinner, Nigel reminded me of ‘Doc’ in Back to the Future due to his intelligence, passion and eccentric mannerisms. He even showed me video of him riding an electronic skateboard owned by one of his students.

    Will Hogan and Peter Harrington of SimVenture – I met these two at the gala dinner. We then continued talking to after midnight at the hotel bar.

     

    INTERSECTIONS

    Unfortunately I missed Lucy Hatt’s presentation, mainly because it wasn’t in the Enterprise Education stream. We follow each other on Twitter and had chatted briefly at the conference. At lunch on the second day, Lucy and Colin talked intensely and deeply about her concept of intersections in the student’s entrepreneurial journey, while I listened in. Colin was adding to it by saying the role of the teacher is to be at some of those intersections and work out what the student needs to help the student choose the path from that point. I also recommend following Lucy’s excellent reflection blog about her PhD process and progress.

     

    ECHO-CHAMBER

    During one of breaks, Andrea and I talked about a range of EE topics, including the echo chamber of EE, particularly that it often echoes theoretical papers more than empirical research. Lo and behold, the very next talk by Catherine and David was about the need to break out of the echo chamber and include more philosophy in the EE field.

     

    ECOSYSTEM

    I have been considering some sort of organisational theory/ies for my PhD. I was reminded by Dr Su-Hyun Berg and Prof Jay Mitra’s presentation of an ecosystem approach. I’m a little wary though, because sometimes ecosystem is a bit of a buzzword in EE literature. On the last night Su-Hyun, Jay, Colin and I went for a drink. Jay and Colin regaled us with conference stories and I learned how Su-Hyun moved from Korea to Germany 14 years ago and after two years of resisting the German language, gave in and now speaks it fluently.

     

    This is just A PIECE of what the two days of conference gave me. Now, as I enter the solo holiday part of my trip, I need to write my PhD EOI/proposal which has been informed and confused by the ever-increasing number of EE concepts that have been brought to my attention.


  5. 12 Golden Nuggets from Practical Pedagogies

    4 November 2018 by shartley

    Image courtesy of Practical Pedagogies via a tweet

    Look! Look! Look!

    I can see hundreds of teachers voluntarily gathering for the sharing of pedagogical ideas. I can hear a cacophony of accents as they chatter earnestly making new connections and friends. I see Russel Tarr, one of the first few international connections I made on Twitter nearly 10 years ago. He organised this conference at St. Georges’ School, Cologne, from Toulouse, in his spare time. I have found Russel to be deeply intelligent, skilful and passionate about education and continuous learning. Through this conference he has also demonstrated how incredibly organised he is too.

    Look! Look! Look!

    I can see a pumpkin patch of golden nuggets. I’ll list 12 of the biggest and brightest nuggets from the conference in a rough chronological order:

      1. I met Jared, a science teacher from North Carolina, USA, when we sat down for the opening of the conference. He has a delightful American drawl and repeatedly called me ma’am which was equally uncomfortable and endearing. His commitment to teaching and life in general made a warm golden moment to start the conference.
      2. Hywel Roberts‘ opening address. I had spent the previous couple of weeks reading Hywel’s book Oops! in preparation. Unfortunately, I wasn’t that fond of the book since I felt it to be a little patronising but in person Hywel was very entertaining. I laughed often and loudly. After a while his educomedy style felt like it was going too long and I became silently critical of the lack of substance. He must have read my mind because he reassured the audience that substance was coming soon. And it did. His message about narrative and story-telling (Look! Look! Look! I can see…) through relationships with students provided a good reminder of the joy and wonder teaching and learning can create. I also liked his three key words:
        • Imagineering (aka VISION – visionary teacher): Thinking and planning for teaching to make curriculum palatable without dumbing it down. This takes professional imagination which unfortunately can often be eroded over time.
        • Botheredness  (aka MISSION – caring teacher): Demonstrating authentic care, being the caring adult (not at war with children) and building botheredness in students for the work they’re doing in class 
        • Phronesis (aka VALUES – wise teacher): professional wisdom 
      3. An Action Research Observation Sheet from a session led by Liz Free could be useful for my PhD research.
      4. Dominic Tremblay (not @DomTrem or @DominicTremblay on Twitter – I found out the hard way) presented a system he has implemented in many schools called Follow the Money.  I loved his enthusiasm and he had some wonderful ideas for teaching student financial concepts in a really active way. I just have concerns about the extent to which the program in full implementation is so fully steeped in capitalist values. For example, charging students a fee for using a paintbrush that is refunded upon return of a clean brush in good condition may work against attempts to instil good values for the sake of good relations, community and society. I have seen research that suggests as soon as childcare centres start charging parents for late collection of children it leads to increases in how often and how late parents are to pick up their children because of the transaction value placed upon it instead of values of respect and consideration.
      5. Dominic also demonstrated how to use the Post-it Plus App. A tool I’m sure to use in the near future.
      6. I loved the workshop by Joanna Norton because she looks at the world with such an artistic and creative eye, different to the more linear and ordered way I do. She provided lots of ideas and food for thought. Some divergent thinking too. I particularly love the idea of bringing books into class to peruse with QR codes of Questions. 
      7. I ran into Mariusz Galczyński at various times over the two days of the conference but it was the bus ride from the school to the city at the end of the first day during which we discussed education and politics extensively in the 20-30 minute trip that was the highlight. This is another connection I hope to maintain well into the future.
      8. I stand by my tweet about Jennifer Webb‘s presentation. Probably my favourite session. I nearly didn’t go to this session because I have a really lovely friend, Jen Webb, and I was scared that the name would be tarnished but no, the name still stands for people who are gorgeous, lovely and caring.
      9. Neil Atkin took us on a journey of emotional states and thinking flaws. He introduced me to the McGurk effect (YT video below) and Brain Rules by John Medina. 
      10. When I first discovered someone else was presenting on Enterprise Education at Practical Pedagogies my imposter syndrome kicked in, making me worry I’d be showed up as an amateur in the area. Instead, I have a new connection and friend in Rachel of Enabling Enterprise (aka Skills Builder). Enabling Enterprise provides standards/criteria for essential skills at a range of levels, an area my research is lacking at the moment. I will definitely be investigating further.
      11. My own presentation. Russel had asked presenters for preferences regarding when we ran our workshops. I said I didn’t but when I found out I was scheduled for the last session, I realised I did. Not last! As it was, it was good to see Rachel’s presentation first and even though we are conceptually similar we hardly overlapped in what we actually presented. I was horrified by a couple of shortfalls in my slideshow (now rectified) but at least the flaws helped to determine which bits I needed to skip since I was very aware I had too much for the hour and ten minutes we had. A last minute inclusion was the use of Lotus Charts, introduced to me by friend and former colleague, Kendra. Russel, with camera in hand, walked in as I was introducing Lotus Charts. He was pleased to have come at a point where he learned something new. It was also a hit with the participants, resulting in a few Tweets. I think overall my presentation went well.
      12. Cologne itself. The pubs and their 200ml glasses of beers that just keep coming were loud and fun. The cathedral is an imposing sight near the main railway station and opposite our hotel. Apparently it took over 600 years to build. It is one of hundreds of churches in Cologne. There’s a saying that you could go to a different church for every day of the year in Cologne. There is also a Chocolate Museum in Cologne that provides a history and manufacturing process of chocolate with some tasting to be had. When I was there numerous school groups were going through, giving me flashbacks to the stress of running excursions. There are also numerous art museums that time didn’t permit us to visit. Next time.


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