M1W2A1: Pen Portraits

Prompt: Identify key figures in your community and create “pen portraits” of them. This is different from interviews because it is telling their story in your words, rather than theirs.

Response: The people who stand out for me have always been great teachers: they have generously shared their expertise, patiently helped me work through my fears,  challenged me to revisit my assumptions, and never told me what to think. Learning was an adventure, a journey of self-discovery. I aspire to embody these characteristics in my own work. Here are some of the stand-outs, in no particular order. Continue reading

Life as a Maven

“To be a Maven is to be a teacher. But it is also, even more emphatically, to be a student.”
Malcolm Gladwell, The Tipping Point, 69

If I’m to be honest, I walk a fine line between helpful maven and irritating purveyor of factoids that only I could love. Since reading The Tipping Point, I’ve tried to ask myself the question, “Is what I’m about to share relevant/timely/helpful?” If I think yes, I make it available to people directly. If not, I’ve started sticking things in semi-public nooks of my blog as a way to remember what resonates most for me (like the time I found out that the word ‘lucifer’ meant match, so that the song “Pack Up Your Troubles” suddenly made a whole lot more sense).

I’ve realised that it’s probably fair to generalise nearly everyone in a PhD programme as a maven. We have a far higher tolerance for receiving, analysing, and digesting arcane information than other people — in fact, I think it’s what draws us to 5+ years of specialised study (not superior intelligence, but that’s another post). Continue reading

M1W1A1: Why I do what I do

Prompt: Create a Draft Mission Statement. Take some time to consider the following questions. Write your answers in your learning space. Explain your idea in terms of “why”. Why is it important? Write it down and spend some time trying to simplify the message as much as possible. Then add the how, and the what.

Response: It’s always a challenge to put the why before the what! I think it still needs some work, and feedback would be much appreciated.

Update 25 March 2016: I’m leaving my long ramble in, because it was crucial to getting me to my shorter mission statement, which you can find right at the end of the post. Writing my ‘About’ page was also really clarifying for getting to the shorter statement.

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M0A4: Reflections on the Commonwealth

1. What does the Commonwealth mean to you?
2. Do you think being part of the Commonwealth is a good thing for your country – have you experienced the benefits of being on #teamcommonwealth?
3. How does the history of your country’s connection to the Commonwealth affect your feelings towards The Commonwealth now?
4. Make a list of positive and negative things you feel about the Commonwealth and make suggestions for how those that are negative could be improved.
5. The Commonwealth Charter includes 16 core values and principles of the Commonwealth. Which of the Commonwealth values and principles do you hold as most important to you as a leader and why?
6. Is there anything you would add to the Commonwealth Charter?

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M0A3: A headline from the future

Prompt: Imagine a newspaper or website from the future – five or ten years from now. They are writing a story about you. What does the headline say? What is the story about? Add it to your future timeline.

Response: I absolutely hate assignments like this, because they require you to be fairly transparent about the extent of your ambitions. I’m an extremely private person, and I also hate being wrong. What if my super ambitious dream never comes to pass? How utterly embarrassing. Ugh. So this assignment is a bit of a challenge, and I’m cringing inside as I write this. FYI, I used NewsJack to create my remixed newspaper headline. H/T MIT Codesign Studio, 2014.

The headline discusses teaching arts-based strategies I use in Building Bridges, and announces that these will be used in general teaching practice for secondary school education, to replace current methods that depend heavily on outdated textbooks and rote learning. Wouldn’t that be fun?


M0A2: Timeline – Triggers and Targets

Prompt: Try to plot the key moments in the development of your idea starting with the thing that began it all. That’s what we might call the “trigger”, so put that down as the first event on your timeline. Add in other key events, and try to remember important conversations or meetings.

Response: I used Timeline JS for this exercise, even though I’m usually very much a hands-on, coloured pens-and-post-its kind of girl. I like its ease of use, its media-rich format, the ability to keep adding events as I progress through QYL this year, and the fact that it is so darn pretty. I don’t do my best “thinking” work on a computer, though, so I’m using notes I started scribbling over a year ago when I was (entirely independently!) trying to figure out my trajectory. Continue reading