I have now tipped over into positive equity with my 100 hour challenge and have reached day 135! This probably means that I should stop counting as ‘embracing new technologies’ is now the norm. I have used the extra 35 days as a buffer to cover periods over the summer where ‘techno activity’ was replaced by ‘ping pong activity’ which became a time consuming, competitive obsession with a nine year old opponent! It is two months since I last blogged and my time has been spent winding down, winding up again and reaching full on warp mode once more! A real treat for the start of term, and one that I was very grateful for being invited to, was a CPD day at Fulbridge School led by the inspirational Alan Peat (twitter:@alanpeat, website: www.alanpeat.com ). The day focused on raising writing standards through a whole school approach, presenting an appetizer for a whole menu of new possibilities.

If you have followed my previous blog entries, perhaps you have recognised a pattern in my behaviour. True to my High/Scope roots http://www.highscope.org/Content.asp?ContentId=1, I can’t help but plan-do-review. During several afternoons trying to tame my unruly lawn this week, swearing at my mower and wishing I could be more like Felicity Kendall in ‘The Good Life’, I have planned this piece. I have kept in mind that I am writing for a purpose, that being to engage the reader, and have pondered how I could put some of Alan Peat’s teaching into practice; I thought that this approach would also prove that I wasn’t just attending the training for the free biscuits and delicious home cooked school dinner! An article that I have recently read by my 100hr Challenge Guru Ewan McIntosh, struck a chord with me and my idea of linking the content of this post with what I have recently learnt. The essence of the article is about educators seeing ‘themselves as first and foremost leaders of their own learning before the leading the learning of others’ http://www.getideas.org/getinsight-blog/new-forms-pedagogy-teaching-teachers. My challenge to embrace new technologies has been that, a challenge. It has been rewarding, life changing, enjoyable but hard. The hardest thing for me has been dedicating the time to the nitty-gritty of recording and documenting my reflections although through this amazing journey I have come to appreciate that this time is precious and necessary to lifelong learning. The 100 hours will go on and on, hopefully into decades; as my interaction with social media has become both a creative outlet and a tool that pushes me to learn. With these ponderings in mind, I have decided that to report on the winding down, winding up and full on warp mode of the last two months I will attempt to start each reflection with a different style of story opening!

The Cliff Hanger ‘Winding Down’ Opening.

It wasn’t the cold critical eyes of the pale skinned Victorian, staring out from the heavily framed portrait, that made the new museum assistant freeze in her tracks. It wasn’t the sullen grey shadows hiding in the corners of the dimly lit gallery that made her heart race. It wasn’t the uncomfortable feeling of being alone in a rambling old building,its walls heavy with history, that made her palms sweat…

No! It was the two police cars, van and handful of police men in fluorescent jackets wielding torches and looking distinctively grumpy that was the cause of her distress! To wind down from the hectic summer term and to ease myself into the summer holidays, I decided to gain some work experience with a museum. The museum in question will remain nameless (possibly for legal reasons) but was nestled within glorious welsh countryside making the journey to work very appealing. For three days I shadowed a very patient Senior Curator who explained to me the finer details of many museum related topics; from how to complete a successful Heritage Lottery Funding bid through to effective systems for the accessioning and cataloguing of objects. He also trusted me to help on ‘Exhibition Changeover Day’ where I learnt the four ‘P’s of Patience, Precision, Perfection and Perseverance!  ‘Exhibition Changeover Day’ represents a vast amount of work taking place in a relatively small amount of time as one exhibition comes down and the next goes up. I was happy to work late into the night to get the job done but didn’t expect my brush with the law… lights on in a museum after dark doesn’t always suggest a major art heist!

The Multi Sensory ‘Winding Up Again’ Opening:

An unexpected downpour left an earthy autumnal smell hanging in the air.  The wind danced in the trees with a nervous energy. Swallows amassed overhead with a sudden urgency that signalled the end of summer and a readiness to change.

Things were about to change! I had resisted the temptation to purchase a new pencil case and to replenish my stock of post-it notes but could not abstain from producing a possibly unnecessary collection of colour coded schedules  whose dates stretched well into a year that we have  yet to enter! I’m sure that this pattern of behaviour is recognised by psychologists who may even have a Latin name for it. I know that it is a condition that affects my children, (confirmed by the compulsive tendencies they exhibited when going about the business of acquiring new lunch boxes and their labelling of numerous items of personal kit ready for school). It was the start of September, the delicious time of year full of possibilities and opportunities yet to be realised. The only bit that I didn’t like about it was sewing name tags into school clothes and questioned whether this was really appropriate for socks!

The 3 Question Start ‘Full on Warp Mode’ Opening:

What made the potion bubble and effervesce so vigorously?  Why did it appear to glow like radioactive waste? What would happen if she prised the cork stopper from the neck of the antique jar and took a swig?

I often dream about an organic, totally harmless concoction that tastes of cherryade and fizzy cola bottles. Its magical properties would sit somewhere between those of George’s Marvellous Medicine, Willy Wonker’s lickable wallpaper and Red Bull. One sip would give you super human mum powers! It would enable you to deliver pristine children to school with brushed hair and clean teeth and no clue of what they had for breakfast down the front of sweatshirts. You would be able to whip up a batch of fairy cakes (from scratch) in-between organising an international conference and tending to an immaculate cottage garden. You would look fabulous at any given time of the day and delight all with your witty repartee!

I have now entered full on warp mode as the new possibilities and opportunities have come in thick and fast! I am very excited to have been accepted to be part of a Partnership Research Bursary programme working with the Cottage Museum in Woodhall Spa and can’t wait to get started. I am particularly intrigued by the donkey drawn bath chair in its collection and the opportunities for dressing up. I have also been asked to lead the Lincolnshire Creative Partnerships Change School event ‘Sharing Big Ideas for Learning’. This is an opportunity that both excites and terrifies me and I think that the latter feeling has the potential for an interesting blog post! I have met with Fulbridge School of Creativity and St Mary’s Change School and have enlisted the help of Abhay Adhikari http://www.dhyandesign.com to enthuse and excite teachers and practitioners about the potential of using social media to embed reflective practice… oh and tomorrow I am back at University! If only that cork wasn’t wedged so tightly in the jar!