Sunday 27 June 2010


First part of re-org of life starts. Lists.

Start with fun bit - reading list. Along with Jilly Cooper, this holiday I will read Foucault 'Discipline and Punish' - all of it this time, Thomas Paine 'Rights of Man' and/or 'The Age of Reason', Bede 'History of the English Speaking People', Jeremy Piercy 'Coffins, Cats & Fairtrade Sex toys'. May have to miss out Jilly Cooper.

Things I want to do:

Visit sister in NZ
Family Scrapbook and web stuff
Play music with our kids more
Arrange babysitter more regularly so go out with Nik
Kings Heath Community Centre Garden Club
Support Stay & Play Groups better
Amnesty Writing Group
Network better and support others (friends & work colleagues)
Shed conversion (to office/greenhouse)
Attend Fairtrade Assoc Bham meetings
Document & Archive all work effectively
Play music with friends more
Get homebrew going again

This weekend I brewed some elderflower and looked up campervans in NZ. So well on the way!

Thursday 24 June 2010

Day 2

Started brief twitterings. Had a couple of followers I don't know. Don't know why, but if they like it... Blogging is also starting to build and provide good record of work and also starting to refer back to them. Also Shenley one is now at end of project, so effectively dead, or dieing, but that's cool, because it was intended as a work journal and now the project has ended. Now more of an archive.

After a bit of experimentation, Paganel Primary school have started to encourage creative practitioners to keep their reflections on their own blogs, accessible to the school. That will be 5 practitioners, a teacher or two and me, so a real network of reasonable size which should work. I think this model is interesting - it keeps the blogs of Creative practioners belonging to the creative practitioners. I'm also hoping it will aid proper regular reflection for CPs and fabulous record for me, school and CPs to know what is happening and what has happened.

I'm also in touch with Podnosh to start a Digital Surgery in Weoley. I think this is a risky but potentially the most powerful bit of work I will do over next 100 days to network, share and support others. I'm also keen to bridge gap between schools and communities, supported by an open, sharing digital community media. My analysis of present situation is stuff happening in schools, stuff happening in communities. Only contact is for a particular project, normally led strongly by a school or by a community group with little real partnership or review beyond length of a project/visit. Already have good links with Weoley Library, schools in area, and other community groups I've worked with recently, in particular the Shenley Community Centre Groups. People have good reason to start conversations, but it will involve moving out of 'comfort zone' to meet others.

Next to do is experiment with Wordpress and meet with Podnosh. Need to start making more definite arrangements for Surgeries.

Wednesday 23 June 2010

100hr challenge

So, first response, how on earth can I ever find an hour a day for one hundred days? Second response, maybe a good challenge might to be not to challenge myself for one hundred days. It is hard, but I'd like to find extra time to make the difference. I still feel like kicking against the hour a day, and I can't stand calling other priorities in my life 'extraneous pillars', but can see value in committing time to a cause.

Having friends doing similar, to support and encourage is also a big incentive. I think I need that to do anything. Rachel leads the way with her bass playing, Alex learning to cook I think is a great real world network and food thing. Bobbie's will be interesting too and Philippa's is closest to what mine would be, Any other's out there? Looking forward to finding out.

So, after nearly one week thinking about what to do, I think I want to continue developing networks, and interested in spending the time to make digital stuff work better for me, and for all the people I work and live with.

In one hundred days/hours I will transform into a new a better me, developing the way I organise myself and making time for reflection, supported and documented by digital stuff. I also want to value the people I come into contact with, share and build networks, again, probably supported by digital things. Is that a good 100hr challenge? Who knows - I'll give it a go. Day 1 done.

Technology Tree Conference

I didn't attend all, but what I saw was great. Liz Leck from Hippodrome also promoted Bright Space/ Creative Partnerships. Also displays from RAF Cosford, Space centre, and Sideways Theatre, all great creative organisations I'd love to work with in future.

Paganel's Scalextric project with Frankley City of Learning and Stan's Cafe, stole the show - with additional presentation on Friday and the workshop ran by the children, it was great to see how much conversation around the project. For more, try Steve's excellent blogs relating to project.

Excellent opportunity to mix with a new network for me (to get all the links - organised by BXL). Aleady interest in Paganel Scalextric project from other schools more than just lifting the idea into other schools - There is a very real possibility for a Scalextric network and call to bring School Grand Prix back to Birmingham - Liz already suggesting Hippodrome may be interested in hosting!

Made me think about 'open space' workshop I had taken part in on Thursday. Concept seems sound - everyone equal, opportunity to put forward possible areas for discussion, then you choose to join, leave, rejoin, whichever debate you like. I was interested in comment by Bob that children were more open to join and leave discussions, teachers more likely to stay with a group from the beginning to end of session. Why should this be?

I find it very difficult to leave a group or network. When someone asks to be a Facebook friend, I do take a moment to think about who they are and whether I want to be friend, but once they are a 'friend', even if very distant, it would take something pretty radical for me to 'defriend' them. Likewise with networking, meeting all those new people at tree conference, I genuinely want to keep in touch with, even though realistically I can't keep in touch with everyone as well as I'd like.

It means I (hopefully) will have an ever expanding network, and more to fit into day, but the amount of opportunities that could develop is phenomenal. Rather than 'declutter', 'defreind' or 'defollow' I see my challenge as to effectively manage and
develop with my new and old partners.

Friday 18 June 2010

Hyper Reflective

This was my second Ewan Macintosh keynote speach, and again left me thinking. Overall message I took away was get organised, and digital stuff can help you get organised. May not seem like a radical message, and in week when UNISON reveal Birmingham City Council spent £83 million on consultants in same year as 2000 jobs cut, you do sometimes end up thinking we should be working some of these things out ourselves. But hey, sometimes we do need poke in ribs to see obvious, and my work is about consultancy.

So, getting organised, what's stopping me? Well, first of all, I'm not completely disorganised (although my partner might disagree) and I do already spend a large chunk of my life negotiating between all the various parts of life, which mostly works out. However I find organising incredibly dull (partner would agree on this too - that is, organising dull, not me). You can't argue that there are improvements that could be made, but what improvements, and when? Last Ewan presentation, along with help from Podnosh, pushed me well onto the path of utilising wonderful digital tools out there. My calendar is publicly available to view, I facebook, I've dappled second life and other stuff, my thoughts blogged, twitter not happened yet, but approaching inevitable experimentation. I'll have to say most of it has really helped with my organisation.

Digital tools available I use are effective because they reflect my 'real world' uses. You can experiment with bits and bobs, but ultimately the only way it will stick is if it really works for you - witness friends who are facebook dos and don'ts. Why should it all work for everyone?

Organising is the dull bit, but I'll do it if I have to. What I'm interested in developing is reflection. Reflection is easily neglected as we are too busy moving on, but if we develop this, then maybe we will see the reason to improve our organising, or maybe it will be something else. I want to be hyper reflective, not hyper organised. All indications are Ewan is indeed both - even if image of our Ewan Macintosh is surpringly eleventh in Google 'Ewan Macintosh' image popularilty, I'm sure he'll remain in top ten of digital guru pinups.

Tuesday 8 June 2010

Re-inventing the wheel or the nuclear option?

Illustration - Cienciart

Reflection following CCE sharing event, 'developing a framework for peer and self review'.

Both models presented today featured heirarchical approach to evaluation and reflection measuring against key competencies (red, amber or green, depending on assessment as all dandy, warning bells or requiring immediate intervention). Yvette and Mandy's Pods included continuous peer moderation through CA pod meetings, Jess and Alison was simpler and visually wheel-like. Both provide a structure to reflection and evaluation, both provide a framework which appears to fit into the database model.

We must apply our CP core values of ownership, and personalised learning to our reflection as we promote with young people, schools and everyone we work with. Our systems must reflect that. Likewise they should be transparent and honest, providing a safe place to experiment and challenge our own thinking, looking inward, and out, beyond our CP practice.

That's why for reflection I advocate a nuclear option - that is, a loose connection of conversations and reflections personal to each one of us, and articulated in a form useful personally to us and the people we share our reflections with. I have a number of people whose opinion I respect who I reflect with on a range of issues, including Creative Agents and Bright Space staff.

Like a wonderful chemical concoction, we need to be free to form covalent bonds with either similar or different people, our own networks, to produce new and wonderful compounds. In this analogy, the Administrative Organisations (ADOs) are the reactive agents or catalysts supporting and promoting the development of new networks, much as we creative agents do in our schools. We creative agents, for our part, are responsible to share our reflections and evaluate our work in a form the ADOs can effectively make sense of.

My reflections are best articulated by me in 'a form' of my choosing. Any form designed by others, or for evaluation, by necessity restrict my responses, which may be required for evaluation, but completely at odds with the purpose of reflection.

We are creative agents employed because we have a unique skills set, experiences and networks. To use and develop our talents best we should consistently apply our CP core principles - continuous reflection owned by us, useful beyond CP to all parts of our practice and our lives. Let's go nuclear!