Thing 17: Reflective Practice

For Thing 17 we are encouraged to apply the “Cobbs Cycle of Reflective Practice”.  The process is outlined in the diagram below (taken from the Rudai 23, Thing 17 article):

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Gibbs, G. (1998) Learning by Doing: A guide to teaching and learning methods. Further Education Unit, Oxford Brookes University, Oxford.

Today, my reflective thinking post will be on the course in general, thus far.

Description

I decided that I needed to tackle a course on  technology…something that would challenge me.  I remembered seeing Tweets about “23 Things” and so I explored the various options. Although Rudai23 was no longer active or monitored, the activities for each Thing and the length of the course felt right to me. I threw down the gauntlet to myself as it were, and picked up the challenge.

Feelings?

At the time I was excited to begin this course.  I felt as if I was losing touch regarding technology and the skills required.  Some forms of tech I had not, at that point, ever used. The niggling urge to try them out was always there, but never the time. This course would require action.  Besides that, I had let my blogging slide into neglect, and kept hearing people banging on about how important a blog was as a CPD record.  It annoyed me, since I did not enjoy blogging, but wanted to ensure that one day, one day, when hopefully we could escape from this ‘land of sand’, I would be an employable candidate. So, with the added requirement of writing a blog post, I realised there can be no excuses…I would have to write.

blogging

 

 

 

Evaluation

I have had to dig deep. I confronted insecurity in tackling technology that I had not used before; faced my fear of ‘being visible’ (blogging publicly) since I don’t have the gift of the gab; also of linking my social media accounts for branding purposes.  I realised that I suffered from ‘imposter syndrome’.  Something kept whispering ‘you’re not a real librarian’, ‘you’ve used distance study’, ‘you’re out of touch’.  I had to actively work at quashing those thoughts.  Feeling very vulnerable, I only experienced kindness online.  I’m thankful for the librarians who commented and encouraged. With each Thing‘s activity, I my confidence grew. Exploring the topics gave me more insight. Finally, tackling the activity and writing up the blog post afterward, was hugely satisfying. I am just over halfway through the course now, and feeling more equipped with knowledge and experience. 😀

Analysis

Before beginning I didn’t fully think the course through.  I merely jumped in.  While that is a good thing in some ways (because in too much thought I may have decided to shelve it), I have also found it tough to stay on schedule.  Working as a volunteer, running a household, trying to remain up to speed with professional development, strength training, reading and other commitments, alongside weekly blogging, is a serious challenge to one who isn’t a natural writer. Also, doing this kind of programme solo is not desirable – it would have been valuable to share with someone along the way, to discuss various elements and to compare notes.  (The administrators of Rudai23 encouraged me and invited contact if I needed to, but that would be a lot to ask of people who are probably as pressured as the rest of us and who have in fact moved on from this course.)

Some of the activities sounded as if they would be a walk in the park, but in reality were tough and a time challenge. For example, screencasting in Thing 9. That taught me a lesson in three Ps…preparation, perseverance and patience. 😀  I eagerly anticipated experiencing the Augmented Reality in Thing 14, when, obligingly, Pokémon Go was launched just a few weeks earlier and it was on everyone’s lips. My desire to explore new things, had me looking at different AR Apps and in so doing I discovered AR I hadn’t known about and found some ideas for library advocacy, which was to follow in Thing 15.

So, I see a pattern emerging…these tasks and skills are interwoven and can be combined to equip one for more effective service to users and stakeholders within all kinds of libraries.

Conclusion

What else could I have done? Read!…more blogs linked to the Rudai23 things course…more articles on technology…more research. I could have given each activity more thought in respect of application to libraries. I could also have actively tried to form a local group to do this course together with.

Action plan

  1. Short term: to not quit, but to finish strong.
  2. Medium term: to read more on professional writing.
  3. Long term: to begin another 23 Things course in 2017, hopefully as part of a group… 23 Research Data (RD) Things. 😀 (If anyone is interested in doing this course next year, please drop me a line below, so that we can connect.

The use of reflective practice in libraries should be encouraged by managers.  Each member of staff, each professional, given a chance to revisit their learning; their experiences; their interaction, with users and with each other; their attitude, aptitude and approach to new technologies.  How could this be instituted? How do you ensure library staff are exercising reflective thinking?  By providing forms to complete? By asking for feedback from each person? How often? Monthly, quarterly, annually?  Not everyone will be interested in maintaining a continuous professional development (CPD) blog. So how?

reflecting

Reflecting by Gisela Giardino on Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

In my previous life  😉  as ELT coordinator, the Head of Department was of the opinion that regular observation of teachers was vital to maintain standards of professionalism.  Random, drop-in observations, was the method used.  Not popular, I know, but to measure someone’s actual ability/performance on the job, it is effective. In an office the manager doesn’t always notify people that s/he’s planning to walk the floor.  They often just pitch up to take a look at what’s happening.  I’m unsure of how it works in a factory, but I’m almost certain  workers are not pre-warned that managers observe from a window/platform above, they just do.  In our ESL department the teachers were aware, from the start, that we used this method of observation.

These observations ensured that teachers remained on top of their lesson planning and that weekly lesson plans were drafted, helping the department to run smoothly when someone called in ill or went on leave. They served to keep the lessons varied and interesting.  There is nothing worse than sitting in a language class for 6 hours of a very hot desert day, having a teacher drone on about grammar, writing, spelling and comprehension.  Equally so, lessons that were planned were more interactive, making the task more enjoyable for both teachers and students. Lastly, professional feedback was the outcome, since teachers had the chance to respond in writing to remarks on the observation report. feedback-commentsReflective thinking! From it came growth. Our ESL department was so effective, that it became popular locally and we were bursting at the seams.

Feedback by Ewan McIntosh on Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)

 

So, in my experience, the outcome of reflective thinking, especially when it involves accountability to someone else, is professional growth. Yesterday’s #auslibchat on Twitter was about professional development, mentors and mentees. One outcome of the discussion was the need for mentors, and for all of us, in fact, to come alongside the other. So perhaps we can each find someone that we can do some mutual reflective thinking with…regularly…so we can challenge our growth and professionalism as librarians.

Here’s to Thing 18 – communicating through photographs. 😀

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Dog waiting by Samuel Yoo on Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Cheers! Thanks for stopping by.

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Thing 11: Reflection…

After all these years, I am still involved in the process of self-discovery. It’s better to explore life and make mistakes than to play it safe. Mistakes are part of the dues one pays for a full life.     Sophia Loren

Thing 11 of 23 is on (my) schedule (1 post per week) with none left undone. It’s been rewarding, albeit tough.  I’ve always been up for a challenge, but 10 blogposts later, Rudaí23 is proving a lengthy one. 😀

Lessons learned? Oh yes!

leaf vectorAbout online tools:

  • Podcasting is fun; the software out there is becoming more user friendly for this medium, and it can be put to many uses within a library. An idea to record interviews with authors, and tips for writing, which can then be posted on the library website, is one of my favourites.
  • Curation tools are vital for organising stuff that comes to your notice as you happen along the information highway. Pinterest is so popular, but can be used for education and professional curation. I’ve gone on to use Storify more than once, now, as I endeavour to keep a record of my volunteering days at the museum library.
  • Screencasting is harder to execute than it looks, but a really effective teaching tool. It was an exercise in perseverance, but Screencast-o-matic made it less stressful.
  • Live streaming is not for the faint-hearted. The fact that one is broadcasting live to the world can cause a nervous sweat if you’re not the confident extrovert. But it was thrilling to receive comments and see the interaction with the video for 24 hours afterwards. Periscope, YouTube and Facebook are making it possible for us to share things in real time.  Not always attractive, but interesting nonetheless.  Last, but not least…an online (live) tool is best used when you have more-than-a-vague idea of how it works… and … REMAIN calm!  😀

leaf vectorAbout myself:

  • The urge to try out these tools has always been there for me, but being pressed to do so and to blog about it, according to a schedule, has been a challenge.
  • When given the option to take an easier route, like, say, watching a live broadcast and not necessarily recording one, I go for the more difficult option. 😮
  • I try!  Although not perfect, the satisfaction and experience gained, is immense.
  • Searching for information on each topic has led me to some interesting articles and websites, for which I am so much the richer.
  • Balancing the course with everyday demands and routines has not always been easy. Once or twice I’ve considered throwing in the towel.  Fortunately, online learning taught me to persevere…every day is a new opportunity to think ahead, plan, focus anew.
  • I’m especially grateful for the encouragement from loved ones.  🙂

The secret of concentration is the secret of self-discovery. You reach inside yourself to discover your personal resources, and what it takes to match them to the challenge.       Arnold Palmer

Overall, I am glad that I embarked on this course. I admit that I can’t wait to complete it for some extra time on my hands. That said, I also look forward to new learning opportunities in the next few ‘things’.

If you’re following this blog, thank you!  I hope that it challenges you to try out new things too.

When we lose our fear of making a mistake, looking foolish, or appearing ignorant, we can step out into the unknown to discover and gather experiences that can turn into golden-nugget-memories.                                                                                                                LibSandy

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Speaking of technology… I stumbled upon this, shared by Stephen’s Lighthouse: 17 ways technology will change our lives by 2050.

Hope you all have a great week.  I’m off to start thinking and researching about conferences for next week’s blog entry.

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Featured ImageThe lonely woman by Johan on Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Thing 6: Reflections thus far – Rudai23

Reading blogs this last month has been fun. Usually I’ll tell myself that I don’t have time, but after beginning Rudai23  I’ve made time, and in so doing I’ve proven to myself that I can, after all, spend time reading people’s blogs and not just techie sites and the news. It has been an entertaining, insightful, educational and sometimes emotional experience.

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Office desk (Public domain image from Picjumbo)

I summoned up the courage to comment on some blogs, even if it was just to thank them for sharing. It’s amazing how eloquent some folk are, and how willingly they share professional advice.  I have also begun to follow a few more librarians’ blogs, managed to gain 3 followers to mine and have responded to one very kind comment on one of my posts, for which I was very grateful.

 

Keeping a diary for years, where I only wrote for my personal reflection and for therapeutic reasons was, to me, a safe option.  pen_&_paper_1

Now, blogging for public view I find to be quite daunting.  My efforts left me feeling as if I’d written a few university assignments, actually. :p  I know I’m not a natural writer, so it takes many drafts before I’m satisfied enough (well sort of) to publish a post.

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Fortunately, completing the Copyright course through ALIA, just as I began with 23 Things, proved to be fortuitous, in that using images from online sources was less scary as I was able to search for permissible ones, understand the licences more thoroughly, and cite them correctly.

Working with WordPress has been a mission of sorts.  I realise that I should do a few tutorials, even though I’ve used it for a couple of years already, but time is so limited. So I plod on and hold thumbs that the post looks decent when I’m done.  I’ve pulled my hair out trying to tweak the appearance of the blog.  Perhaps it’s me, or (at the risk of sounding as if I’m blaming my tools) it could be my old laptop, but I find WordPress doesn’t always ‘play along’ and do what I think it should.  Grrrr!

Because I have  been very interested in online tools over the last few years, and have been using a few of them for just as long, a lot of the first few Things’ content was not new to me.  But even so, there were aspects that I learned for the first time, like muting a twitter hashtag or account, or  how to use a Twitter chat app.  I explored Google more fully, and opened a G+ account and began to use Google calendar.  I discovered that one can make a professional URL on LinkedIn, and I appreciated the tips for a professional LinkedIn profile.  Facebook was a challenge since I have a personal dislike for the service, but I propose to use it to my advantage this time round. And now, after exploring the site and all the settings, at least I know that if I were asked by a member of the public for help in setting up an account, I would be confident to do so. happy_2

The module on personal branding, Thing 3, was fun to engage with, but I have felt uncomfortable with placing emphasis on myself.  The write-ups for each Thing are about my experiences, and so invariably the content has too many ‘I’s.  However, I am eager to build a professional brand as I believe it contributes positively to one’s chances for employment…so here’s to brands. 😀

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Peacock  (Public domain image from Picjumbo)

These are my reflections until this point.  I look forward to continuing and learning more about online tools. If you’re doing the Rudai 23 Things course, please be sure to connect with me on Twitter, using #2016Rudai23. Alternatively, leave a message here.

Cheers!

Clipart from Clipartheaven.com, with thanks. 🙂