I’ve been thinking about what I wanted to talk about next on my blog but nothing leaped to my mind. Anyway.. today was a day filled with my favourite things.

Otago PolytechnicFirstly I started the day (after I checked polytech email, gmail – 2 accounts, and my blog)… with supervision with one of the fourth year OT students whose honours project I’m supervising. Its a great project and he really needs to write about it on his blog but just at the moment he is focusing on writing up his results so I won’t distract him! It’s great to see his ideas developing about the results. It’s always a struggle to think about how best to organise the results you’ve got but after some discussion and looking at some examples, he went away with more clarity. I do enjoy working with large groups of students and seeing them develop through to being therapists in practice… But it’s also neat to work with one person especially through a research process from the early ideas through to seeing the project plan, the gathering of data and now the ‘playing’ with the results.

After that it was on to meet with another of the lecturing staff who is picking up a new postgrad course. We met to talk about what the learning experiences are in the postgrad programme, what the postgrad office provides and what he needs to concentrate on. I was reminded that I need to put together a staff handbook for new staff as there are a number of things they need to think about, but other resources they don’t even have to worry about as our postgrad administrator provides such good support. I’m hoping for a good number of hons students and a couple of postgrad cert/dip students so that we can offer this course.

Then it was off to a planning meeting with one of the staff to discuss what she needed to gather for her performance appraisal. The first meeting is always a longer process as the person gathers together for the first time the student feedback, collegial feedback, and other evidence to show that they are achieving to the level of expected in their position. I wonder if students realise the multiple uses their feedback is put to, and how much we rely on it!

I’d just got back in the office when a friend from the other end of the country rang up to find out who she could talk to about the OT practice in the 80’s. I passed on a couple of names from the school who were involved in education at that time, and then we had a quick catchup…. I told her what I’d found recently in the two books I’ve been looking at on self-study, and noticing and how they had arrived at a good time. I’d put a workshop into the COT/BAOT conference titled “Where am I going – professionally competent or developing personally and professionally”. When I prepared the abstract I wasn’t really sure how I would organise the workshop, or even what I’d put together as the learning activities… and then I found these wonderful texts… I was telling my friend as I know she is planning a fantastic keynote for the next NZAOT Conference about caring for yourself.. and I was telling her how some of her ideas, and how some of the honours students findings from the data analysis had come together to help me put the ideas for the workshop together but I hadn’t been sure what the workshop was until I found these two texts! She laughed and reminded me that it was amazing what turns up just when you need it – just like these two texts. So with any luck the abstract will get accepted as I’ve now got some really good resources to shape the workshop.

That took me up to lunch, so after a quick catch up on emails, dealing with the ones I could quickly and putting aside those that need a bit more thinking I walked up to the bank to get some cash (two farewell presents this week – one from our school, one from another). The 15 minute walk to the bank allowed me to indulge in flights of fancy about the need for a book that focuses on strengthening the self – whether that be learning, supervision etc…. so maybe one day I’ll get from the thinking to the actual producing!

Library at Uni of Otago I walked up through the university (literally next door to us).. and then once I’d been to the bank back through the library (see photo of library). The library is fantastic at the University (I could live in it all day.. but then my first choice of career was a librarian – I just didn’t go there!). I decided to try and find John Mason’s text that I was talking about in a previous post but the library doesn’t hold it… so I moved onto looking for one on self-study that Margo Paterson has a chapter in. The text was out but I decided to go up and check another one anyway. University exams are finishing this week so the library is a lot emptier than when they started, but there are still quite a few students around studying. As I walked towards the shelves I could see some people with laptops open, working away on what I guess were assignments, others with their iPod stations all set up and plugged in, headphones on and course readers or workshop notes open and highlighted obviously trying to memorise the contents. Others places had no students, but they were obviously in the library but had left their desks for a few minutes – taken their laptop with them (the plugs are still lying on the desk) and there were lots of notes and pens – guess the laptop is more valuable than anything else there. I wondered what exams they were furiously memorising for and was left wondering are exams really the best way for students to demonstrate their learning. After all, they sit few if in any professional exams to demonstrate their knowledge once they leave the university – instead they go about showing they can do the job they are employed for?

Anyway.. I couldn’t find the self-study book I wanted, but I always love perusing the shelves, so I had a quick look around around where I was standing and picked up an amazing book by Sotto Sotto’s book called ” When teaching becomes learning : a theory and practice of teaching”. I flicked through this second edition (2007)… it hadn’t been read so it always feels like a real adventure to open a book that hasn’t been pored over by thousands! the first section is on learning including chapters on motivation, Two accounts of learning, The learning process, Talking and feeling, Perception and so on. He then goes on to talk about teaching. It looks incredibly readable, so I plan to get some time in the next two weeks (the total loan period I get as a non Otago University member of staff) to dip in and out of the various sections and see what new ideas I find.

Realising I was going to be late for our management meeting I scooted through the university, and down past Fluid Espresso – our local cafe. I was going to stop to grab a coffee, but the queue was too long so I kept going! Tomorrow perhaps…..Whoever decided to put the cafe there must have realised they were going to be onto a gold mine – one block down from the university, just across the road from the polytechnic where I work, and also the College of Education – all those lecturers needing a coffee to get through the next meeting makes tracks to Fluid! I wonder if the owner stood on the corner of the street where the cafe now sits and ‘noticed’ all these people going backwards and forwards, and then imagined them with cups of coffee in their hands? Is that what led to their buying the space, applying for consent to open the shop, creating the space from what had originally been a bike repair shop!… and so on.

Management meeting was next – which is the HOS, the two programme managers and the school secretary. We took a few minutes to check out our action plans for the year for each programme – thank goodness I can check off most of mine as having been completed, and then the action plan that arose out of our last staff meeting/review. It sometimes feels like we have action plans coming out our ears, but at least we do know where to focus our energies and what we need to work on next. Wonder if students realise the background work that goes on to ensure the quality of the programme they are offered? We talked about a range of other ‘managementy’ type issues… and then I was on to my next meeting to go through and plan for another performance appraisal for another staff member. This person has been on staff a bit longer and I realised just how much more they had to bring to their appraisal than someone newer to the school.

Then… there was just time to get an email out to staff which advertises an upcoming seminar I’m hosting with Lynne Jaffe from Medical College of Georgia. We are aiming to start our programme out of Wintec (Waikato) next year and Lynne has experience of a programme being offered across to sites! So I’ve set up the meeting and to give staff an opportunity to practice using the online seminar software, I’m trying to get as many as possible logging on from their desktops! It will take a bit of time to set it up and get the equipment working well but hopefully will be worth it. Lynne will be able to sit at her desk about 5pm one evening next week and we will all be sitting at ours around 9am asking questions, seeking clarification, comparing experiences. I hope that the technology plays the game as its such a nice example of how technology can support us these days!

Then I was out the door to get to a school where I’ve been involved in a young childs transition back to school after experiencing a head injury. The child is doing well on just 1.5 hours every second day – so we talked about how they were doing, what was needed to be able to increase the child’s ability to tolerate longer at school. We also did some problem solving around why he seemed to so keen to go to school, but then when it came to it was so reluctant! Just as I enjoyed being in the library soaking up the atmosphere, I also enjoyed being in the school, actively working together with the teaching staff and parent to make the transition back to school for this child a successful experience.

Then back in the car, and after picking up a couple of things at the shops, I met up with a friend’s son who was packing up his room in the Halls after his last exam and is storing his stuff at our place. Four boxes later, the car was chocka to the gunnels but we made it home, had tea and he is now on his way to the airport!

Its been a busy day, not much time to stop and reflect on the events of the day… but when I fnished this entry tonight, I realised that everything I did today was a challenge as I looked to how I might find the ‘just right challenge’ to scaffold the individual’s learning.. considering what I ‘noticed’ and why (because I won’t know what I missed – if I did then I would have ‘noticed’). So everyday has learning experiences when you are an academic!