I have been writing the Copyright Literacy review of 2017
and it amazed me how much fabulous work I’ve done with Chris as part of UK Copyright Literacy
. Two people working together can do far more work than two individuals faffing about on their own. Updating and launching v2.0 of Copyright the Card Game and co-creating our ‘academic game of life’ The Publishing Trap has been fantastic.
However, what I’ve discovered this year is that what I do on my own is also important and like everyone, I have to keep trying to work out what matters to me and be better at what I do. This year has been a journey, a time of change, but it has also been a year of trying to be authentic, ‘braving the wilderness
‘ (I now work 3 days a week!) and make a difference myself.
Rather than just reel off a list of achievements, I thought I would try to provide a balanced look at some of what I’ve been up to. I’ve had a lot of fun this year, but I feel I have worked harder than ever and perhaps had less time off, less time in my garden, or just chilling out. So I am reviewing the themes of 2017, rather than just running through everything I have been up to. These include:
Travel: I’ve always loved to travel, whether in the UK or abroad. But my trips away specifically those on my own have been important this year: to the USA for ACRL in Baltimore (did I mention it before?) to Latvia with the British Council, to Llandudno for CILIP Wales, to OER 17 with a terrible hangover, where I almost missed my presentation slot. Travel broadens the mind, but travelling on my own has been good for me. To visit places, to enjoy time on my own, to be open to meeting new people and having new experiences. In Latvia I went to my first opera. In the US I went to the Library of Congress. I realise I love travelling, particularly by train – I just need to learn to pack more lightly!
My work for the CILIP Information Literacy Group: I am entering my third year as Chair of the group, we continue to be involved in TeenTech, we have been busy creating a new definition of information literacy, building a strong committee, creating a new brand for the group, launching a new website and a overall creating a united team between ILG and LILAC. I’ve also been building a relationship with CILIP over campaigns like ‘facts matter’ and realise there is still a lot to do on all fronts. But this is my plan for 2018, to continue to build a strong team and advocate for information literacy everywhere I can.
Personal and professional development: completing Aurora, the women’s leadership programme, in March made me realise that personal and professional development are completely linked. Aurora was a fantastic experience and I have spoken about it a few times since and encouraged women I know to do the course – I was particularly pleased that LSE opened up the number of places after my endorsement of the programme. I’ve also tried to add more of ‘me’ into my talks which is partly through discovering the work of Brene Brown on shame and vulnerability. Brene says that vulnerability is the key to connections with others and wholehearted living, but it doesn’t stop us feeling fear. Through reading Brene’s work (and other similar writers) I realise I need to keep getting out there and going into the arena and showing up and learning to have courageous conversations. It’s all about trying to be authentic which will probably always make me feel a bit uncomfortable, which is the reason why I need to keep working on it.
Discovering mindfulness, which is about noticing when the mind drifts, trying to develop greater awareness and trying to be in the present moment, trying to still the ‘monkey mind.’ But also learning we are not our thoughts and emotions and we can’t always control them. And trying to practice my meditations but not beating myself up when I don’t have time or manage to always be mindful. I’ve completed two courses on mindfulness and also realised it has some really valid links to teaching and pedagogy, and information literacy. Again, it’s the realisation that personal and professional development often overlap.
Leaving LSE, not being a copyright person and having to build up a new identity and a new network at City University. I have now have School-wide responsibilities for departments such as Music, Journalism, English and a wealth of social sciences. Learning about how people teach in these subjects and how I might be able to help them has been massively rewarding and scary. But I’ve really seen how not being a copyright officer is liberating, but also often leads me to have conversations that return to it in some shape or form. And it’s amazing how many times I find myself telling people I was the Copyright Advisor at LSE for 15 years and watch their eyes widen!
My fantastic new job – I finally feel I have found my place, being able to say I am a Senior Lecturer in Educational Development is amazing and I realise I love to teach people about teaching more than anything. I love watching people teaching others, trying to find ways of engaging students with a discipline. Trying to convey their passion for a subject to others. And realising this is one of the most challenging things you can do, it makes you vulnerable if you do it properly and yet it’s the way you learn and develop. And at times it’s been exhausting and I’ve felt under scrutiny about the way I teach and whether I’m modelling good practice (or using the right verbs in my learning outcomes!). Because as much as every teacher, I want my students to learn but I want them to like me too.
Friendship: which comes in so many shapes and forms and how people can help us in so many different ways. But also to cherish those people, as they won’t be there forever. Losing a friend, and Deputy Chair of ILG Rowena was a shock in October and this year has been marked with sadness. People come into your life, people can leave, people can change and so can you but friends and family are so important. And when I feel down I think of my little nephew Henry with his cheeky little smile and the world doesn’t seem so bad. But I want to thank all my friends for their support this year, new friends (Ruth, Sheila), friends I’ve known a while now (Chris, Emma, Lisa, Louise) and those who’ve just been kicking about forever, but I promise I don’t take for granted (Sue, Maria, Sarah, Caroline, Ellie the list goes on and in mentioning anyone I feel I have inevitably forgotten many people).
Developing a business: thinking hard about my talent and reputation, getting people to pay me for my expertise, which is something I struggle with because I wonder if I am worthy enough? But also asking what should I charge people for and what should be given away freely because it’s something I just want to do and because I have a level of privilege that means I can help others. And I’m so grateful to Lisa for all her support and help on the business side of things and working with me and Chris on one of the most fun projects you can have about copyright!
Writing: I’ve continued to write loads of things with Chris, we’ve had reports, articles, conference papers published many of which are listed on our website. We have a chapter coming out in a new Routledge book early next year. But getting a proposal accepted by Palgrave to write a ‘Pocket guide’ book on information literacy for students with Emma, is very exciting. It’s going to be a different format to what I’m used to, and it uses cartoons and illustrations. It should be fun!
Fun, games and play: that’s been another part of the year realising that I really like playful and creative approaches to most things in life. It’s partly why I have really taken to leading historical walking tours in my spare time. It’s a bit like acting (which I am dreadful at!) combined with teaching and a bit of showing off. Life has been too serious for a long time and I like laughing and using humour as an approach to helping people learn and engage with me. I’m so very proud of the Publishing Trap, but I feel this is just the start of more games and creative approaches to education. I just know how much work this will be, but that is good, because when it’s something you love, it’s not work.
Wow what a year, it’s no wonder I feel tired, but not everything always goes to plan – turning up at a conference and almost missing my presentation slot was a personal low as well as almost missing the ILG AGM due to a lost pair of sunglasses! I found at times I had definitely taken on too much work, with multiple crashing deadlines towards the end of the year leading me to work far too late into the night (and test some people’s patience with me to the limit). I have to get better at saying no to things that don’t matter to me, at delegating (when I have someone to delegate to!) or working smarter, so setting up apps and reminders that mean I always know what I’m up to. Wunderlist
has tried to keep me on track and more of my tricks and tips were included in the chapter (I rather rashly) agreed to write for David Hopkins in his EdTech Rations
book. I can’t promise I’ll be perfect in 2018, I am sure I will still take on too much, and have plenty of failures or times when I just don’t live up to my expectations of myself. But I know with some fantastic friends and colleagues around me and with techniques like mindfulness, next year is going to be a great fun!