@PGCAP #cohort2 induction and decision

open your heart

open your heart


It is now the day after our induction for cohort 2. It was indeed a full day and a very long one. It felt much longer than last time despite the fact that we have actually cut bits out. We need to do less. Yes, less is more and a lot of the stuff that we went through could be done through self-study and online activities. But then again you will have some people participating and others not. How will we be able to engage everybody from the very beginning and how can we create the so vital learning community?

Some people couldn’t make it, others arrived later and others left before we finished. It is a busy time of the year for everybody and I think this influenced yesterday as well. The levels of participation were good and I could sense some thinking and deeper engagement already but I also felt that some were just not there 100%. This is hard. Hard for us but also hard for the participants, or students how I like to call our participants. Some of the activities were not understood fully. Some didn’t see any purpose in these.

Especially the heart activity was almost a disaster. I have used this activity before, a few times, but I never experienced what happened yesterday. This was really interesting and I try to understand what people didn’t understand about the activity. The idea behind it was to introduce reflection as something that we are doing already in our everyday life by asking participants to open their heart and

– share an episode (and everybody was given a red-paper heart to capture their thoughts), something very good or bad that happened to them.

– They were then asked to move away from the actual event and think about the why it happened,

– then how what happened made them feel and

– what they would do differently if they would experience something similar in the future.

Isn’t this what we do on a day-to-day basis? Do I assume that what everybody is doing? Maybe we are not all reflecting. Maybe we don’t really know what it is. Maybe the instructions were not clear enough. But I wanted it to be something more organic and it didn’t really work well at all. I have to rethink my approach.

Teaching and learning and emotions? Some I think were surprised with this combination. Should education be something de-emotionalised? We all have emotions when we care about something, about somebody. Should we not care about our students or do we have a responsibility to care? Something to think about and I intend to come back and look at this a bit closer to explore if emotions and feelings don’t really have a place in education or if they are indeed a vital ingredient of teaching and learning.

We are currently thinking of shortening the induction up to lunch. I would like everybody to leave on a high and not on a low. I was thinking why was it yesterday so different. But whatever the reasons it showed again that each teaching and learning situation is unique and what might work in one won’t necessarily be good in another case. This is the big challenge, isn’t it? We need to be flexible, listen to what our students say. Also, it is very important to read the body language and some of the signs I was getting were that people were tired…

I will stop here for now. I will be back with regular reflections, this is my decision… if you were wondering.

Any comments would be very welcome. Yes, I am encouraging a dialogue about my thoughts and our joined journey on this module. Speak again soon.

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4 thoughts on “@PGCAP #cohort2 induction and decision

  1. Becoming a reflective practitioner is a craft, as skill ,
    something that needs to be developed over time. I recall a learning
    session lead by Sue Firth of http://www.sue-firth.com where Sue introduced
    the ideas of reflection and reflective practice to a group of
    senior business people. Almost in unison the group rejected her
    ideas with a “What’s the point, we are to busy to do this, we know
    what to do…” I also recall a conversation with a colleague and
    mentor, Frances Bell of Salford University, about a student who I
    was teaching on a module called Reflections on Professional
    Practice (I think the module has been withdrawn because of the not
    enough take up rule). During the conversation I was explaining my
    frustration with the difficulty I was having with one student and
    how the student seemed unwilling to even try some of the ideas that
    I was offering. Frances smiled and wondered aloud how much time
    people need to start to get to understanding the power of
    reflection in a world of creeping accreditation where everything is
    wanted now. One of my favourite writers, W.H.Demming, explains that
    the there is no instant pudding, he explains that good things take
    time to produce. Reflective practice is a good thing and it takes
    time to develop. I digress… Back to my group of senior business
    people – two years later the speaker they all talk about is Sue
    Firth. They recall how at the time they just did not get the power
    and value of Sue’s contribution. They also reflect on how what they
    measured at the time when assessing the presentation as this
    assessment bore no relation what so ever to the learning that were
    realised later. p.s I felt that the session yesterday was very
    valuable and an excellent introduction to the programme. I thought
    the paper heart was an excellent metaphor to introduce the power of
    reflection and I’m going to use it at the start of my next
    presentation!

    • Hi David,

      Thank you very much for sharing your thoughts on reflection. I agree with you that reflection linked to our professional life is something we need time and experience to develop.

      However, we need to start somewhere and my thought was to start from something we all have experienced. Our lives are full of intresting snippets, episodes that stick with us. Snippets that excite us or make us angry for some reason and there is definitel a reason that triggers our emotions! Looking at the reason will help us understand what we experience, become aware of our emotions and develop a mechanism to deal with them so that we are better equipped next time something similar happens and act and re-act in a way that it better for us and the people we are dealing with or a specific situation.

      I have seen in other circumstances people refusing to be reflective because they feel it is not something that is worth spending any time on doing… they have better things to do with their time. We just need to think of experiential learning! Isn’t reflection part of this? It is a vital part of it because it means we have learnt something through our experience and this has been achieved through a process part of which is reflection. Einstein said “the only source of knowledge is experience”. What does that actually mean? Does it mean anything?

      Reflection can be learnt! But we need to want to do it! If we don’t see the point or miss the point, it will never happen. We need to recognise the value in reflection and build it in our everyday life. I also think reflection in combination with emotional intelligence are two really powerful features, if I call them that, to transform our life and that of others.

      If we become self-critical, learn to step back or out of our experiences and almost stage ourselves outside our own life, we might learn to see our experiences from a totaly different angle and actually learn from that valuable lessons about ourselves and others.

      Glad you found the heart activity useful and let me know how it goes when you use your version. ;o)

      Thanks again for stopping by and sharing your thoughts.

      Speak again soon David.
      Chrissi

  2. Hi Chrissi, This is a very insightful post, thank you for
    sharing, it’s interesting really isn’t it, the different memories
    facilitators and learners take away from events. I must admit to
    being one of the participants who had to leave early, but up until
    that point I have to say that I did enjoy the session, especially
    the group activities. I think the ice breakers were just enough to
    help everyone feel at ease. However I felt that some of the
    logistics of assembling the portfolio could have been done within
    the cohort groups rather then the one big group. Unfortunately I
    wasn’t able to stay for the ‘open your heart’ activity but I’m
    intrigued by the idea of it. I think I would have liked some time
    to reflect and try to whittle down to a key experience and also it
    might have been something that was difficult to share with some
    people I had just met once or twice. Perhaps this was an activity
    that could be repeated further down the line? Overall this for me
    is really the crux of all teaching and learning. We as facilitators
    prepare the material with the best of intentions with our desired
    learning outcomes but the end result will not resonate or engage
    every person in the room. This can be down to so many things such
    as managing expectations, differences in subjects and teaching
    styles, to people’s outside influences playing on their mind, to
    cultural differences or learning difficulties but mainly our
    differing learning styles. I agree with you though, the dialogue
    should not end there; I think it’s always useful to debrief, or
    else how do we progress? I know after my workshops I think about
    what worked, what surprised me, I read through the session
    evaluation sheets and discuss with colleagues what I felt really
    went down as a lead balloon. I think we can’t help but focus on the
    let-downs and negatives even if the session went relatively well.
    Paradoxically this is also what excites me, the fact that I care
    what people take away from my session, that I want to do better and
    that I enjoy this type of work for the challenges it presents. I
    hope I never face a day when I totally get rid of my nerves; I’d
    hate to become complacent. 😉

    • Hi Tahira,

      Thank you for reading my reflections. It is indeed fascinating I would say what we are taking away from each session. It is different things for different people and that shows how different we all really are.

      Really pleased that you enjoyed the group activities. Learning means engaging and thinking. Thinking can of course also happen when we just listen but I am not sure if there is a guarantee that it actually happens when we are sitting for example in a lecture for 50min… it is easy to switch off and that is what I do when I sit in front of the telly. When I am tired, I find it really hard to watch a movie… I fall asleep. Unless there is something I can emotionally connect with but it needs to be something really really strong, otherwise my eyes close and I am gone to the land far far away. While this happens when I am in front of a telly, when I am in front of a computer and tired, I could be on the computer until the next morning. Why? I think the why is really because on the computer nothing happens without an action that comes from me. I am in the driving seat and I am allert all the time. My brain is doing overtime and I am excited and engaged non-stop. Do you see the difference?

      watching tv – passive
      using the computer – active

      Are there parallels with our sessions? Think of lectures as they are usually delivered and workshops or seminars maybe? Of course, I am not saying that all lectures are passive learning expiences but I have heard many students confirming exactly that. Does a lecture have to be a passive learning experience and if the answer is no, what can we do about it and why haven’t we done it already?

      Thank you Tahira for sharing your thoughts on one of the activities linked to personal learning experiences. I can see where you are coming from and it definitely helps people to open up when they know each other a bit better. However, the purpose wasn’t to share something we didn’t want to share with anybody else. That is also the reason why I shared something very personal and painful from my own life with you because I feel strongly that we can’t ask from our students to open up, if we hide and remain closed.

      I definitely would like to engage in a dialogue with all of you about the module and the session and your practice as well and will keep sharing my thoughts in this space because I know that I have to learn a lot and I want to learn through my experience. Sharing my thoughts with you will hopefully help me understand better what I experience and see things from different angles as well.

      Thanks again for taking the time to respond. I am looking forward to further conversations with you and others.

      Until then
      Chrissi

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