Life’s Regrets?

Death

Really fascinating piece and a good reminder as to what are the important things in life – as expressed by those on their deathbed to their nurses.

1) Living a life true to yourself

2) Not working so hard

3) Having courage to express true feelings

4) Stayed in touch with friends:

It is common for anyone in a busy lifestyle to let friendships slip. But when you are faced with your approaching death, the physical details of life fall away. People do want to get their financial affairs in order if possible. But it is not money or status that holds the true importance for them. They want to get things in order more for the benefit of those they love. Usually though, they are too ill and weary to ever manage this task. It is all comes down to love and relationships in the end. That is all that remains in the final weeks, love and relationships.

5) I wish I’d let myself be happier.

When I trained as a coach, one of the exercises that we focused on was getting people to write the eulogy that they hope might be given for them when they die (death is about the only certainty in this life, right?), and then work out how to make life fit with that. I’ve been making various steps backwards and forwards in this recently, and wonder whether the amount of time I’ve spent decluttering has helped (it’s certainly helped clear my brain – I know that the things I still own I use or value in some way, rather than ‘just in case’) … or whether I could have used that time out with friends…

Have you read ‘Less is More’ by @Echosounda?

I have spent much of the last 10-12 years, ever since we moved from our large home in Sussex to a much smaller one in Suffolk (not that I have ever truly lived in Suffolk), in gradually trying to declutter and focus more and more on what’s important. I feel that I still have a long way to go, but having spent last weekend in some serious decluttering (the physical space is nearly there, the electronic needs some more!), after going shopping yesterday and thinking I’m not sure that I need more… and knowing that I’m meeting with Brian Draper in a couple of weeks, I ensured I put aside some time this weekend to read his new book Less is More.

It’s been great to sit still for a while (no radio, TV) and just absorb some of the thinking. I don’t really want to turn this into a ‘task’ of a formal review, but would love to share a few snatches with you (and if you’re someone who’s horrified by people writing in their books – sorry – I’ve scribbled quite a lot on it)!

  •  We’re always talking about “one day” I will do this, that, the other … but we find a comfortable physical place, and we just put it on hold… for a little longer!
  • “Consumerism has a built-in obsolescence, for a very good reason: if we were truly satisfied with what we had, we wouldn’t feel the urge to consume more and more.”
  • The example of bottled water, which our culture has persuaded us we need to pay for… and has also done with many other things such as adventure, inspiration, art, etc.
  • To stop equating ‘quality of life’ with our possessions, and more with our interactions with others.
  • The example of a gratitude diary, which I kept for the first year I was on antidepressants. Do I start one up again?
  • We should give thanks for a dull news day, as it means no bad news (such as 9/11)… but those bad news days can shock us into putting our lives back into perspective.
  • Rather than expecting everything to go wrong, ask yourself “What could go right today?”
  • “But when, exactly, did life become just another problem to be solved? Who said it was something to be fixed? What if it were, instead, something rare to be witnessed, to be savoured, and to be appreciated?”
  • Ask the simple questions that others are afraid to ask, and focus on developing what you’re good at, rather than spending hours correcting your weaknesses.
  • What does silence sound like… reminds me of my trip to Doubtful Sound (which still see as the No 1 highlight of my round the world trip). Take time to stop & listen to it  (not be afraid of it)… savour the now.
Stop living by the rule of the clock then reminded me of an image I ‘pinned’ the other day:

Source: Uploaded by user via Bex on Pinterest

 

  • We fashion our sense of identity from our wounds, and old/hurtful voices clamour in our head, if we allow that to restrict our choices. It can be difficult to hear over those.
  • Go to places where oceans merge, etc.”In this kind of place, roles mean nothing. Titles mean nothing. Status means nothing. While you mean everything.”
  • A blank page represents such promise, and each time you press ‘New Message’ for an email “you are confronted with a blank page and this is your chance to use it well. It is an invitation to craft something from nothing, with care and with love.” Each day presents ‘a blank page’ – watch out for the seemingly insignificant moments that can be squeezed out by what seems important.
A reminder from Steve Jobs:
  • Don’t try and fill gaps in the conversation. Stop and properly listen – will make others feel valued.
  •  The way we’re working isn’t working. We need to understand more about how we work in waves of energy, and need to look for spaces to renew energy as well as spend it. Otherwise, as I learnt with Beyond Chocolate, you’ll eat to stay awake, when what your body needs to function effectively is sleep. I’ve also learnt much more to take time to focus – I have Google docs for each of my roles, with things that need doing – pick a task and get going on it. I also used to have a rule in my PhD research – you can move something on the calendar 3 times then you have to do it!
  • Adele’s success = not selling out!
  • Find the Source of our refreshment and wisdom – return frequently to drink from it – and then let it flow through us… not trying to trap/hold it.
  • Reconnect with creation.. and an interesting piece as someone who’s trying to run… trainers are BAD for our feet … causing us to run with our heels, and doing the work our feet are meant to do. Stop STAMPING on the earth, and learn to walk lightly on it.
  • The 6-word Memoir (which doesn’t have to be for all time)
  • Take time to listen to others stories, and think how we want our lives to be defined (as a challenge we set on Big Bible to write our own epitaph – then work towards it!).
  • Start somewhere! “We cannot do everything after all. And when we realise that we can’t, we are liberated to do one thing wherever we are, and to make the kind of difference to the world around us that only we can make.”
  • Start listening to ‘what I do is me’- and be introduced to the person you were created to be.
  • Slow down and savour the moment… taste that sandwich, say thank you to the person who served it to you…
  • Learn to live with poise (from within), rather than pose (a false identity which takes energy to maintain). It’s not always about getting from A to B, but about how you get there.
  • Learn to relate to each other without an agenda, and without judging.
  • What are the passions, values and beliefs at our centre, and how do we reach them?
  • “… in a go-getting world, we may like to think that ‘the sky’s the limit’, when really our fear of flying keeps us earthbound.” We have a responsibility to be free, whatever the situation, and need to be unafraid to fail.
A reference to a great quote (as someone who has a PhD in the arts!) – acknowledged unverified:
  • We are all involved in life’s battles – fight them – but choose the right battles.
  • A soldier follows orders: kill or be killed. A warrior fights with the example of their lives, with physical fighting the last option where necessary. Matthew Fox: The true warrior is “a co-creator, a worker with the Spirit, a worker for Spirit. The warrior’s hands are the hands of Spirit at work; the warrior’s mind is seized by theSpirit precisely in the work of creativity.”
  • We tend to live in a haze … stop to see what’s right in front of our eyes:
  • Spend time outdoors in reflection. Stop. Close your eyes for a full minute. Listen, smell, feel.
  • Autumn: the trees allow themselves to be laid bare in order for renewal, rather than holding onto the gloriously coloured leaves.
  • Eckhart Tolle The Power of Now: “Death is a stripping away of all that is not you. The secret of life is to ‘die before you die’ and find that there is no death.”
  • A mention of Michael McCarthy and the difficulty in describing a butterfly: “It has been well said that science gives us knowledge but takes away meaning.”
  • Believe that there must be more to life than this.

Well, that was a little more than I intended to write, but I hope that it inspires you to buy the book.

Is it worth ‘teacher coaching’ at University?

http://www.sxc.hu/photo/667183

Is ‘teacher training’ at Higher Education level worthwhile? Well, as someone who’s in the Learning & Teaching Development Unit, clearly I think so! I completed my PGCLTHE earlier this year, and found it great to challenge my thinking on the way that I teach, and it’s changed my practice hugely. There’s plenty of comments on this story in the Times Higher Education:

Where academics were instructed on how to teach better, Dr Robson said, peer review of their lectures could be used, although this would only be right for staff that had received “long-term training”.

Dr Robson added that self-evaluation could be useful, with lecturers asked to provide examples of how their training did or did not improve their teaching.

They could also use National Student Survey scores to show improvements, she argued.

Other areas could be assessed more simply (whether staff had absorbed basic health and safety training could be ascertained using a simple questionnaire, for example). But leadership and development coaching needed something “more detailed”, Dr Robson said, such as appraisals by line managers three to sixth months after completion.

Where staff took on much more “intensive” training, scores could be given on performance, which could then be used to calculate the return on investment.

Coaching in Higher Education? Yes Please…

Corporate coaching has spread rapidly from the US across the world, with the business sector happy to buy in such support for employees they are grooming to be high flyers. The higher education sector, in contrast, would appear to offer a less obviously lucrative, and perhaps more sceptical, market. Yet coaches in the US, and to a lesser extent in the UK, are working with an increasing number of academics, helping them to confront not only the challenges they share with many other professionals (notably the sheer lack of hours in the day) but also the pressures specific to the sector.

Nathalie Houston, associate professor of English at the University of Houston, has just begun to offer coaching to academics outside her own institution. In addition to her full-time tenured job teaching and researching Victorian literature, literary theory and the history of the book, since 2009 Houston has been involved in the ProfHacker blog, where a team of more than a dozen writers offer “tips about teaching, technology and productivity”.

“I write about time management and work-life balance,” she says, “topics I’ve been interested in for a long time.”

Recognising that she often provided informal coaching to colleagues, friends and students, Houston decided to gain a formal qualification and set up a practice that she hopes to extend to about 15 clients.

She “meets” them, either for 30 minutes three times a month or 45 minutes twice a month, by phone or by Skype – mostly, she says, “on Fridays, when I don’t teach or have university meetings, and on Saturdays, so it’s compacted into a certain section of my week”.

The basic principles are simple. “While therapy tends to look to the roots of the problem, to trace it back to some dynamic or trauma,” explains Houston, “coaching is about what you can do now to change the situation.

“As one well-known coach said, if a stick in a river gets stuck, you don’t ask what made it stuck – it just needs a nudge to go on floating down the river. Coaching focuses on the nudge. It’s action-oriented, and present- and future-directed.

Read full story, and I’m ahead on this one, thanks to The Kerslake Company! We have been in discussions recently within the LTDU at the University of Winchester, re bringing together a group of people who are interested in coaching, which you can see from my PGCLTHE assignment, I am.

A great talk hosted by @psychologiesmag, with @lucyberesford and Sadie Jones, hosted by @louisechunn

Wednesday evening, I popped along from working on The Big Bible Project, to check out the first event of its kind held by Psychologies Magazine.  Aside from snapping my calf muscle en route (2nd time in 2 weeks), I turned up in time for wine (sure it’s a great pain killer!), and had a chance to chat to some of the team from Psychologies mag – always nice to know more about the people who are writing what you’re reading! I’ve got every edition of Psychologies, although I’ve not necessarily read them all (yet!), and it was great at the end of the event to chat to some more of the team, and there may be an opportunity to write some materials! So, I guess… watch this space… I guess it depends how much I procrastinate about it :-)

I would go to the bottom of these images and read up…:

Check out @CamillaKerslake singing on ‘Sing if You Can’

Yesterday, for the first time in ages, I turned on ITV, and caught the re-run of ‘Sing if You Can‘ (a crazy show in which people have to carry on singing whatever is thrown at them…), just as Keith Lemon was talking to Camilla Kerslake (looking stunning in a lovely dress… chosen for her by the ITV producers, in case you’re wondering…). I undertook my coaching training with Camilla’s mum at The Kerslake Company (then known as Serenergise; which has strongly influenced the way I approach my life… still decluttering, several years later)… and you can see the way she has influenced Camilla to keep going through anything in this video (in aid of the Teenage Cancer Trust):

Not too late to sign up for The Kerslake Company’s next coaching course, starting 15th May!

PGCLTHE: Coaching Assignment

Below is the introduction to an essay I have just had returned from the module “Examining Professional Practice” for the PGCLTHE. The presentation, which I didn’t really have enough time to prepare for, gained me 55%, and the COACHING in Higher Education Essay 66%.

“Since the 1990s the field of coaching has grown in professionalism, and now affects most business sectors. As Parsloe and Leedham outline in their first chapter, coaching and mentoring have moved ‘From Marginal to Mainstream’ for anyone interested in people development. As the profession continues to evolve, professional bodies are emerging, including The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) and the International Coach Federation (ICF).[1] Having taught in Higher Education (HE) since 1998, I encountered professional coaching at a CIPD event,[2] and trained as a life coach in early 2009.[3] This assignment offers a reflective consideration of implementing coaching practices within learning and teaching practices in HE. With a particular interest in facilitating group work in seminars, the presentation considered how exploiting learning and personality styles, and offering encouragement, improves student engagement with the process. (Read the entire essay in Word.doc.


[1] Parsloe, E. & Leedham, M. Coaching and Mentoring: Practical Conversations to Improve Learning 2009 (2nd Ed), pp. 3-11

[2] Minter, T. ‘Personal Effectiveness’, CIPD, 2007

[3] Kerslake, D., Boyce, R., O’Donnell, A., Fogarty, C., Professional Coaching Certification Programme, ICF Accredited, The Kerslake Company, 2008-9″

Postgraduate Certificate in Learning and Teaching in Higher Education

Enthusiastic Study GroupWell, you know me, I like to collect qualifications, but this one is pretty much compulsory nowadays within Universities, to become a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. I started the course in February 2009, and have found all of the taught sessions really interesting, particularly once we start hitting “how do students learn”?, but in teaching so much, am not getting a huge amount of time to read around the subjects I’m doing, or complete my assignments (too busy marking other peoples!). So, what do I need to achieve, and by when, to become a FHEA?!

The Practice of Teaching in Higher Education
I attended all the courses on this last semester, arranged my mentor, kept a reflective journal and was observed in 3 teaching sessions (now that’s an interesting experience!). So now I “just” need to complete the 4000 word portfolio of practice! If I can do it for 5th March 2010, I could finish the entire course this year, otherwise it’ll be 25th September 2010!

The Practice of Teaching in HE
Learning and Teaching Portfolio (4000 words), organised/indexed for reader, with appendices
Initial Needs Analysis & Contextual Overview (1000 rough words, to reduce to 500)How current teaching position relates to:

  • Previous Experience
  • Qualifications
  • Aspirations
  • Skills
  • Developmental Needs
  • Rationale for 3 observed sessions
  • Plan for completing PGCLTHE
Evaluation & Reflection on Teaching (1200 words)

  • Evaluation/reflection on programmes of teaching in which involved.
  • Critical reflection on 3 observed teaching sessions.
  • Reflections: external comments, emerging understanding of effective teaching & how students learn, using generic/subject specific pedagogic lit.
  • Own judgement (expectations of competence/points for action): peer feedback, student feedback/module evaluations, literature.
  • Appendices:
    • Detailed session plans
    • Resource material from observed sessions
    • Comments by external observers
    • Student evaluations
Description, Analysis & Evaluation of Assessment Activities (600 words)

  • D, A, E of AA have participated in
  • How contributed to provision of feedback to assist student learning
  • Assessment results (formal/informal) – aid evaluation of effectiveness as a teacher.
  • ANALYSE/EVALUATE more than DESCRIBE, demonstrating understanding of assessment design & operation.
  • Broad overview of focus on one specific element
    • Student feedback
    • Pedagogic literature
  • Appendices can include:
    • Limited examples of assessments you have set.
    • Module results sheets
    • Examples of feedback on marking
Small Scale Learning & Teaching Project (1200 words)

  • Design/carry out small scale project, developing a specific aspect of teaching.
  • Theoretical understanding/practical implementation.
  • Identify project through discussions with tutor/mentor.
    • Developmental as an individual
    • Direct practical application to subject area.
    • Convincing rationale for need to change/develop practice
    • Underpinned by theory/literature
  • Evidence:
    • Student/College feedback
    • Literature (subject/pedagogy)
Agreed with Yaz: Focus in the area of CHOICE, affecting motivation, affecting CHOICE in engaging with seminars, etc. as a project!
Reflection on Learning and Development Activities (500 words)

  • Personal reflection on:
    • Own learning on the unit
    • Other developmental activities undertaken to support teaching whilst on the programme
  • Action Plan for CPD beyond the PG
  • Appendices can include:
    • Review & Development Meeting plan.

Examining Professional Practice

For February 2010, I need to have completed:

Part 1: Oral/Poster presentation, relevant professional enquiry, at small L&T event with others on course. (60%)

Part 2: Critical reflection on the feedback from other colleagues/tutors. 1500 words (40%)

No Assignment yet agreed

Using IT for Innovation in Learning

For April 2010, I need to complete:

Resource package, electronic or text, “suitable to meet the learning needs of an identified group of students, and a report justifying its design in relation to theoretical understandings of student learning”.  Contextualise how understanding/skills have developed, and demonstrate how utility of the resource will be judged. Report 2-4k

See p.18 for Guidelines/Criteria

Agreed with David: Evaluation of SkillsNet Project, including sessions with staff/students for feedback of the website.

I am also sitting in on “Context”, which has a lot to do with curriculum design, but don’t see the need to add another assignment to my list.