How lovely :)

I’ve had a breakthrough! Today’s Leading a workshop session with the HNCs was a ROARING success…. even if I do say so myself ūüôā I’ve found myself looking for ways to make everything¬†practical¬†based on their feedback from Monday and today I cracked it. I want ed to facilitate a discussion about what makes a facilitator/ teacher/ leader a good one, but ended up using this as stimulus to explore Forum techniques,¬†consolidating¬†their findings into the main body of the session.

Two learners during feedback actually stated that they were dreading this afternoon for different reasons but felt like they had learned loads and enjoyed the session¬†thoroughly. Happy me ūüôā


Lesson Plan

Reflections on this session – learners work very well on practical exploration and activity.

This group do not work well as passive learners

Feedback from group confirms this. Plan for future sessions – break down of information made as practical as possible, and information covered in smaller chunks over a couple of sessions.

Inspection week

imageimageSo we’re being encouraged to reflect on our practice because we are being inspected by Education Scotland this week. In an ideal world people would do this anyway, but time is a problem I suppose. I find I can save time if I use my iPad because I can reflect whilst in class (as I am doing now! – my level 5s are answering past paper questions in groups)

Last week I managed to complete my assessment docs for all classes (I had a glass of wine in celebration on this magnificent feat on Friday night!) with the exception of only 2 students and 1 who is extended due to ill health. I bought sweets as motivation for the FE guys which seemed to work well ūüôā I was massively proud of them all actually, the level 5s have worked really hard (some at the last minute, granted!) and the standard of level 6 work was high overall. I get frustrated when I’m analysing Pi data from previous years and I can legitimately say that only 1 person actually failed because of their engagement or ability, when the others were only here for funding in the first place and went AWOL after week 4, and then students start saying ‘I’ve decided I’m dropping this unit’ on the last week and then refuse to come in for remediation when you’ve invested time and energy in helping them achieve. It’s hard not to take personally. Reflections on the block are that I need to make sure I plan; Which I do but the fact that we often move classes around or impede on each others sessions within the team disrupts that plan and makes for stressful remediation week. Also, blending assessments between units is a good idea in theory but can be confusing and stressful at assessment time.

So we’re starting a new timetable this week. I have no classes with level 6 and 3 with HNCs, I find the HNCs difficult to engage :/ with all the other class groups I have a great rapport, and I enjoy working with them, but the HNCs are confrontational and disengaged most of the time. I had a session with them yesterday where I was giving tuition on how to tackle log book 2 for graded unit. I tried to break up the session by having them explore their character practically and annotate script as a group exercise, but if I spent more than 2 minutes talking or writing on the board, they switched off and started snoring, literally. I asked them at the end of the session how I could engage them, how they would like me to give them this information and most agreed that this was the best way of teaching this type of activity, others suggested we play a game every 15 minutes. The problem with this type of feedback is that the students seem to lack understanding in regards to the very limited amount of time I have as the Tutor to cover this information, but I suppose if they are asleep they aren’t taking on board anything anyway.

I’m not really sure how to engage this group. I feel excited by the process of analysis and discovery but my approach doesn’t seem to affect this group at all. They lack empathy. Ironic.

Also, week 1 (with only 9 x6 hours to produce and HND level Production and I get an email from 3 of the cast saying they will miss this Friday because they have auditions for UWS. It’s exhausting. And all adds pressure to my role, for which there is no consequence to the student. I feel that the students in general don’t want to work, which is a theme that seems to run through our society. I even had a chat with the guy in the chippy last night about it (a chat which he initiated).

And the depressing thing is I’m the same age as some of them. :/

Master or Creative?

Master or Creative?

I like this article, although it does make me wonder what people are doing?! I think we established a long time ago that learners should direct their own learning, and learn as equal communities (I’ve always preferred to be considered a facilitator rather than a lecturer). This isn’t made easy however by the strict guidelines for learning outcomes we are given by our governing bodies. But those of us who are worth our salt are trying to constantly fit that preverbial round thing in that square shaped hole….

Reflections reflections

Well if I were to write down everything I’d be mad.

This week I have been, lecturer, nurse, mother,¬†counselor, shoulder to cry on, chef, cleaner, director,¬†chauffeur, bus driver, fundraiser, manager, learner, devils advocate, admin support, assessor, motivator,¬†facilitator, problem solver and philosopher. The role of a working mother in today’s society is somewhat diverse.

I watched the level 6 performances of Antigone for assessment this afternoon and as a result ended up in a discussion about personal¬†responsibility¬†v the role of the Lecturer; who’s responsibility is learning anyway? These are the findings from the class:

The chorus need more Directorial input in regards to speaking in unison, moving as a group and where their focus should lie. I will address this in rehearsals on Friday.

Groups are disadvantaged by the absence of others .  I have allowed additional rehearsal time with other people as a contingency plan.

Some people feel they need more input. again I will address this in more one to one rehearsals

Performers lack confidence usually due to bad experiences from teachers in the past. My students assure me that this has nothing to do with me as I am approachable and positive, although they do feel that negative vibes affect them – they are affected by others lacking confidence, which has an impact on me which affects them. I will do my best to be aware of this and try to not show tension or disappointment in body language.

Some people want more structure (nagging) from me…. I can’t help but think that if I do this I will then be told I am no longer approachable etc.

Individuals feel that their workload is too much. Ha! Self management is obviously an issue as they openly admit to being lazy.

So bottom line is I can’t win…… I give too much or I don’t give enough. Story of my life.

I love my job but sometimes I wonder if it’s really worth it?

On a more positive note, I enjoyed the level 5 fundraiser yesterday. We all dressed up in costumes and went for a walk round the Glen to raise money for their Production costs. This promotes citizenship and entrepreneurship and was a great team building exercise.3ImageImage

Examples of good practice – student feedback

I love facebook!!!

Not as a social network per se as more often than not my newsfeed is filled with drunken photos from 1997, babies wearing stupid hats or proclamations of love for random celebrities…..

But from a lecturer/ learner perspective it really is quite wonderful. This week I have perfected my feedback strategy… that is I have watched voice medley performance pieces for assessment, taken notes on my ipad, uploaded the video files to youtube and then private messaged each individual student the link to their performance, their written feedback for that performance and an overview of their contribution and development for the unit, ensuring confidentiality.

Feedback from the students has been very positive as this system has allowed me to give them feedback 5 days before I am due to see them in class (I only have contact with this group 1 session a week)  so they can start to think about their evaluation.

In addition, the level 6 group have spent this morning in preparation for their voice medley performances performing and giving peer feedback. We do this quite often at various stages of the development/ rehearsal process, but I noticed today that the quality of feedback they are giving continues to improve. By asking them to give themselves feedback also, it demonstrates how AWARE individuals are and quantifies their understanding of what a ‘good’ performance looks like.

I changed the classroom round this morning and swapped the performance/ audience area. I feel this improved the dynamic and atmosphere within the class as looking towards an open window breathes vitality into a very stuffy space.

On Wednesday the HND boys and I had a very funny class where we concentrated on analysis of their next Production. I decided to follow my process of analysis with the class rather than doing this in preparation for the class. As a result we now understand the play as a group rather than me trying to explain ¬†my concept when they already have their own ideas….

On a downside, the submission of work is becoming a real headache (damn you Facebook!!!) as students are submitting work through fb, email and the VLE whilst some still like to hand me a paper copy. 

Evaluation week!

this week we have been encouraging students to hold focus groups to give their opinions on various aspects of their course to inform our annual self evaluation report. 

I think we need a formal system of feeding this information back to each other (as a staff base)  in the short term as some interesting points are being raised by the student groups. I led the HND focus meeting and word processed the main points of their discussion. I would normally allow them to do this unsupervised but in previous experience I never get any evidence back and verbal feedback usually centres on the  quality of food available in the refectory.

We got some really excellent points about the¬†approach-ability¬†and professionalism of the lecturers, the need for additional learning support to be replaced and the promptness and depth of feedback. They also stated that they thought lessons were varied, challenging and ¬†clearly recognised the value of what we are trying to do. So happy face ūüôā¬†

The HNCs held theirs as a production meeting as they have been affected by interruptions and changes to the timetable of late. My colleagues fed back that there was confusion within the group who felt like their classes (certainly¬†since¬†Christmas) have lacked¬†structure¬†and leadership. This is because we have been trying to ‘massage’ the timetable to allow them rehearsal time in the studio, instead of a computer or¬†inappropriately¬†sized classroom, also the CL has had meetings and guidance activities which have imposed on her availability during their rehearsal time. Also, I only see this group once a week, and in that session have to cover Voice, Graded Unit and guidance; which has proven to lead to disrupted sessions where a lot of their learning is self led.

As a result we (as a group) devised a rehearsal and assessment schedule to which we intend to stick to for the remainder of this block. We have also provided them with timetables for next block (which have been done early because HMIe are visiting and no other reason!) which is a big help to allow all of us to plan. My colleague has also brought in a graduate Director to work on rehearsals for Production with this group.

On the plus side, I had nearly a full class for level 5 rehearsals on Thursday afternoon so we made some good prgress with their project, and fundraising ideas are coming in fast! I’m away to buy props on amazon!!

snappy titles

I can’t think of a title… hence the name of my blog :/

Week 2 is underway. I have a BIG pile of Graded Units to mark (which always fill me with dread) and am doing a good job of moving them around the office instead of actually looking at them! 

First class was on Tuesday this week as Sarah and I have swapped sessions so her group can work on Production in the Studio. I gave feedback for thenew voice anatomy paper (HNC) which proved that only half of this class a) listen to me and b) care enough to study/ research information. This is disheartening. I feel like I do twice as much work for individuals than they do themselves…. and it’s not me who gets the qualification at the end. Those who do work feel frustrated by the laziness of others, and I don’t blame them. Maybe the merger will bring stricter entry requirements, more competition for places and subsequently a better quality of student.

Don’t get me wrong, I want them all to achieve, but at what cost? Usually my sanity.

I’ve been here 8 years now and I feel my motivation fluctuates more than it used to. I have to really try to remain positive and enthusiastic sometimes and I worry that this comes across in the quality of my teaching. That said, Learner Survey data came out today and one area that all our students were very complimentary about was the staff. As I teach ft I can only assume part of this praise was for me…¬†

The week has been disrupted by filming for a MA UWS film project. This is a great opportunity for our students but lack of planning and absence has meant that everyone has felt like today has been a bit of a nightmare. Shame. I look forward to seeing the end product though.

As a result I am off task with acting assessments. If learners came prepared with lines learnt and character work done, and used their study time effectively it wouldn’t be so bad; but the fact that they don’t holds everything up and causes stress in remediation week. I want to get all my results processed on time (before my big 30 weekend!!! Selfish me) but the only way that’s going to happen is if I fail everyone! Ha!

I hope for better attendance tomorrow so I can really get to grips with the level 5 Production (Multiplex)… watch this space. Wine required tonight I’m afraid.

1st week back

The first week back after Christmas is always a shock to the system Рbut this year the shock has been tinged with uncertainty in light of the upcoming regional merger. My main concern is to make sure my students are not ill affected by the whole thing and to put all of my energies into delivering good quality lessons which engage and empower.

That said, This week I have had both good and bad experiences:

On Weds Ian from Napier came to talk about auditions with the HNC/D group. I was disappointed at the quality of work the students shared as I had run a very similar session giving similar feedback and input into their work before Christmas – only to find they have not applied it. It’s frustrating because learners regard a new facilitator with more weight than that which they work with on a daily basis… why is this? it is not a lack of respect, as I have an excellent rapport with most learners, but maybe familiarity affects the amount they take from what you give them? I don’t know.. and am afraid to ask!!!

The level 5s have been working on blocking ‘Multiplex’ this week and over half were absent ūüė¶ I decided to replace absentees with Barbie/Ken dolls, which seemed to go down quite well with those that attended the rehearsals. I am concerned about the level of attendance in this group though, bearing in mind we need to prepare for an external exam. I am assured that the reasons for¬†absence¬†are personal or financial rather than course related.

The Level 6 group have had a productive week but are feeling the pressure with having so many pieces to learn. We have made good headway today with structuring a response to a textual analysis question and practical assessment pieces. A colleague spent an hour covering essay structure and buzz words¬†relevant¬†to the text and I followed this up with the Director’s perspective – I tried to vary the session by asking them to generate group responses to questions and then commenting on each other – but the group¬†struggle¬†with long periods of written or static work.

In the afternoon we did vocal development work including¬†diaphragmatic breathing, projection and articulation, posture and alignment¬†followed by individual group work with Antigone. Generally I need the group to ‘perform’ and have set homework to¬†analyse¬†the extract in detail in an attempt to help them get to grips with it.

Generally a positive week with lots achieved.