Recalibration

I’ve been travelling up and down to York for my new job over the last month and found myself thinking a lot about the concept of recalibration. Usually associated with mechanics and measurement, checking if an instrument is measuring to a fine degree of precision, I think recalibration is a great metaphor for a process of taking stock and making changes.

The biggest changes I’ve experienced in the past came about through forced recalibration – bereavement, illness, unexpected quirks of fate – all of those left me with no choice but to rethink my life. We do adapt, sometimes quickly, sometimes painfully to those changes but the trigger event is not one we would necessarily have chosen, and for me the changes weren’t thought through, I just had to live them.

image

About nine months ago I began a different process. A more purposive recalibration. I began to wonder whether I’d stopped as often as I should to reflect on if my life was providing me, and those close to me with what we needed. Was what had been important to us still as important, were there tweaks and changes we could make to how we live? Was the way I did things working, or was I just doing things that way because it was comfortable? I stopped and thought it’s time for a change.

I’m not sure at the outset I’d quite planned on the massive change it’s turned into (new job, new house, new city) but I definitely knew I’d found myself at that jumping off place I’ve written about before. And I’ve learnt that that initial plunge is just the beginning.

My recalibration, as I’ve started a new job and (almost) moved to a new town, has involved thinking hard about how the knowledge, skills and networks I’ve already developed fit into my new environment.

I’ve been imagetrying to force myself to test assumptions and constantly check to make sure I’m being open to what’s new and different. There’s quite a fine line between using your existing knowledge and the lessons you’ve learnt in one place, relationship or job and falling into the comfort of old assumptions, ways of working or thinking.

I’ve also been reading Redirect: changing the stories we live by – by social psychologist Timothy Wilson (read a précis here from @brainpicker) and it’s helped me to be alert to how much my own interpretation of my life affects how I respond and react to change.  It’s fascinating listening to how the little voice in my head hinders or helps me as I move in unfamiliar spaces.

It’s been hugely energising not to have an organisational memory to rely on, to be walking down unfamiliar streets, seeing different landmarks and meeting new people. The recalibration is far from over, I’m consciously checking I’m not limiting my understanding by measuring up new experiences against the old, and being open to my routines and conversations being different.

We all calibrate our lives on a daily basis adjusting to the worlds we move in as they flex and change, but sometimes I think what you really need to do is throw all the cogs up in the air and see how they fall. Exciting.

A huge thank you to every single person who’s offered kind words, encouragement, answered my daft questions at the office, or just been a supportive presence as I’ve thrown up the cogs –  it’s deeply appreciated.

Persistence & learning #blimage

Welcome to #blimage Steve Wheeler (@timbuckteeth), Amy Burvell (@amyburvell) and a number of other folk have been playing #blimage this week. You can read more about the #blimage challenge here on Steve’s blog and on Amy’s here. Essentially it involves four simple steps:

  • Take an image (or use the one Steve provided)
  • Write blog post prompted by the image on the theme of learning
  • Post your blog and share using #blimage
  • Inspire someone else by sending them an image

I love this idea, it’s a fun and fast way to get our creative juices flowing and as I’ve been struggling to get my blog on in the midst of a job change and house move the timing couldn’t have been better.

persistence

I drew this image a couple of years ago after being captivated by a line of ants dismantling a leaf and carrying it back to their nest. I like it as a metaphor for learning. Yes learning can be fun and exciting but often it also requires a healthy dose of persistence.

And that can be challenging, we live in an age when we expect to get ‘stuff’ on demand and even though we can now deliver a cornucopia of multimedia learning resources to people’s mobiles and tablets on demand the one thing we can’t guarantee is that they’ll ‘get it’ immediately.

Sometimes learning takes time, it’s messy and it’s complex – it challenges us. Whether we’re trying to master a new skill set, learn a language, or get a handle on a theory, learning demands a lot of us. To succeed we have to persist, keep practicing and trying to finesse our skills or deepen our knowledge. Just ask a top athlete, persistence is crucial even in the face of setbacks.

When I’ve found the process daunting or overwhelming I’ve resorted to the ant’s trick of tackling the challenge in bite sized chunks, lifting what I can carry and coming back for more bites over time. Sometimes I’ve had a line of helper ants to assist me. Working in groups with others & learning from their experiences, sharing the task, reflecting with my #pln that social connectivity can really help my learning process. Sometimes it’s just something you have to tackle on your own, keep an eye on your end goal and be persistent.

When we’re planning teaching or learning programmes we owe it to our learners to recognise that learning isn’t always easy, straightforward or quick. Sometimes the process will be hard, and lengthy. Let’s take a cue from my friend the ant, use bite sized chunks and build in the help of others to help carry the load. And be kind, try to remember what it felt with the last time you felt daunted by the learning ahead of you, remember how overwhelming that felt and then try to share that journey with your students, be honest, admit it might be tough but remind them you’ll be there for them along the way. Sometimes the road you travel teaches you more than the final destination.

And here’s an image for those of you who are in need of some #blimage inspiration…

IMG_2496