March was an unpredictable month, when it was never clear what might happen.
[Tracy Chevalier, Girl With A Pearl Earring]
March 1st >>> Driving home after the annual recharge that is the CESI conference weekend. Skin on hands raw and sore from the industrial strength hand sanitisers in The Sheraton Hotel and Athlone Institute of Technology, provided out of watchfulness against this new virus. A watchfulness which had prompted a return to long abandoned daytime talk radio for Covid-19 news updates, and a return to the more controlled atmosphere of the car from the lottery that is dense public commuter transport. Head full of thoughts about the delights of the weekend just spent with wonderful people…
- Friday night’s TeachMeet, #tmCESI curated by Sarah Jayne Carey and Mary Jo Bell, which I spent as an observer as part of my PhD field work.
- Saturday’s #cesicon action included a morning TurtleStitch workshop co-hosted with John Hegarty; a midday panel discussion about Open Asynchronous Professional Development with Catherine Cronin, Rebecca O’Neill, Pat Seaver, me and a theatre full of educators from all over Ireland who engaged in debate, a debate which continued into Bryan Mathers’ compelling ‘Visual Thinkery’-fuelled afternoon address, a good summary of which is here in CESI Secretary and panel convenor Kate Molloy’s reflective post-conference blog post.
March 2nd – March 30th>>> Ch-ch-ch-changes. Mostly unexpected.
- change for hashtag #edchatie – came unexpectedly when curator Fred Boss announced that the Monday night chats would cease, leaving the # as a 24/7 timeline for tagging education matters. At the suggestion of Eoghan Evesson, we had ‘For One Night Only’ a final Monday night valedictory #FredChatIE to say thank you to Fred.
- change of pace – increasing isolation leading to instinctive then instructed cocooning – staying home instead of going to college lab or local library, private St Patrick’s Day parade in the backyard, watching as our caretaker government moves to take more and more care but worrying it might not be timely enough for the most vulnerable, marvelling at the ingenuity and generosity of those getting on with helping us get over this as a population, and rewriting the entire list of what is important or necessary.
- change of language – a sobering morning reading ‘the’ research paper by Neil Ferguson & co at Imperial College – mitigation, suppression, surge, rebound, social distancing, cocooning – and realising that the only variable that will matter until a vaccine is deployed is capacity of the ICUs across the country / the world
- change of ‘venue’ – conversations and meetings in Skype, Zoom, Blackboard, Teams, Meet, Hangout, Jitsi (btw, for me it is a big ‘ugh’ to the word virtual as in VLE; and as for incorporeal to describe meetings, it is a louder ‘ugh squared’).
- change in education infrastructure – a totally ‘flipped’ system, not even over a weekend but over a single Thursday night began with the 12yo granddaughter arrived home with all her books – all 22kg of them. The new hashtag-du-jour becomes #EdShareIE, suggested by Amanda Joliffe, a place where the suddenly-displaced teachers, teacher-trainers, and providers could point ideas and resources at. Frazzled and frantic for the unprepared, even a bit so for the prepared, but generous sharing from those for whom this was not a new experience; proud of my teaching colleagues who are triaging their way into a new situations simultaneously at home and at work.
- change in pedagogy – and so a month that had begun with a relaxed discussion about emerging Open Asynchronous Professional Development became a global rollercoaster of urgent talk of how to ‘deliver’ school through a screen. It seemed to only worry about how to quickly change teacher’s ‘stand and deliver’ from a podium to ‘sit and deliver’ from home office chair. It was a little dizzying – one of the reasons I considered OAPD to be important is that it can be “in your own time, in your own space, in your own way, at your own pace”. Couldn’t it / shouldn’t it be the same for teachers and their learners? The way Catherine Cronin describes open education practice – allowing that it is ‘complex, personal, contextual, continually negotiated’ – seems to me to be a very fair way to proceed for all education, whether it is situated online or offline. And reading other who have been “at this” for a long time who share their wisdom … of the many, these are four that resonated with me:
> Leigh Graves Wolf A reflection on teaching in online EdD enviroments
> Donald Clark Ton of tools and 10 things to do if you’re new to online learning…
> Nick Jackson The Dawn of New eLearning
> Steve Wheeler Face-to-face at a distance
And so to stop my head either exploding or imploding, the calm genius that is Bryan Mathers drew another ‘think’, this time for Open Asynchronous Pedagogy. I like it. The idea, and the image. And it arrived on my screen with five minutes of a posting of the poem by one of my favourite educators. And that made me very happy.
to go on
towards the space
[Michael D. Higgins, Take Care]
March 31st > and so cocooning continues until further notice. Holed up, on hold, holding on. Ding dong – special doorstep deliveries. Chats through the window. Washing hands and washing windows!
But it won’t be forever. ‘Til we get to the other side, do as Miggledy says, tabhair aire, take care.
7 minute listen, ums & ahs, mistakes and all
long march towards a place of sharing by mags amond is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.