Monday, 29 April 2013

Diet Time

The exam diet is starting and the school has fallen into a strange tense quiet. The 6th years are all heads down and worrying as they have days to study leave, the 4th year are all in today for English  and even the younger years are holding their breath. Long may it last, much work can be done and things finished in this calm. Sadly it feels like the eye of the storm and normal chaos will be resumed soon.

I was reliably informed my extra post last week was a bit whiny, for that I apologise, I try to make my post interesting with out being too long, and not to personal, I am me and that will always show through my writing, but I try to focus on the positive and good things. In that vein I am getting on with my activity log, only a few things from 3 years ago are unforgotten! one meeting so far I have listed but no idea why or what we did! Most are clear and I can remember enough details to show what I learnt and what I have used. I did end up adding a criteria column to help me organise them later. Most so far cover the first and second criteria and some third but only a few get to the 4th and the wider professional context which is one reason for listing it that way. I have post it notes round my screen at work but was doing some form home this weekend and realised as I went to check the wordings I need to do the same at home. Thought that I would be able to remember them but the notes are so much better! I highly recommend any one doing a portfolio to try this if possible.

The blog I am enjoying the most this week is Man Man Knitting which is the ongoing blog about a man who got himself sorted out and back on an even keel by creating and knitting bears! nice soft cuddly bears, which are made to order and ship world wide! His story and his thoughts are a really good read, a few weeks back he was over hearing someone complain about the area he lived in and thought to himself, 'if you don't like it move!' later he was sat at home and realised he didn't like how he was living so took his own advice and moved. Not an easy option, not a light choice but one I can but respect. I have a view of life that runs; if you don't like a thing, you look and see if you can change it then do, if you can't then don't let it worry you. What I can do things about I will, I won't moan and procrastinate ( I still have a book called 'Overcoming Procrastination' in my kindle that I have never even opened) but do what I can.

Only nine weeks to the Umbrella Conference and I am already counting down the days, I am wishing I could go to more and more often, we shall see what comes from this summer visits. the lists of the talks already has me swithering, wishing I could be in two places or more at once. :-)

Friday, 26 April 2013

Make lemonade

I am starting this early, I often feel like blogging only hours or a day or so from my last blog post but I am aware that too often would make me possibly annoying to those who follow. I like regular posters and have been known to drop posters who are too frequent. I know, fickle, but I only have so long to read blogs and if a post is too often I click already read it or even just stop following.

I have had an interesting few days, I feel very supported and connected, I am buzzing with new build (drawing from GMA Ryder below) and ideas, and can't wait for my new library to be built. On a different scale I mentally took a day off, too much in my head. I did all I needed to but didn't make a to do list, nor did I check my older list, didn't even get my shopping list to do. I did play with new books in and open boxes, sorted some books for English and tidied a shelf that didn't need it much, and best of all I even got to read some books. Today my list is 10 items long for today! and some are very time sensitive!

Concept drawing of new library building!

Just a note to comment on an article that caught my attention by Brian Solis who is coming to be a bit of a hero to me :-), which he talks about being told he was a bad writer (which his books would make a lie) and how that made him strive to be a better writer. I was not given much hope or support at school (no idea how I ended back in a school my peers must be laughing) and couldn't wait to get out and do what ever I was told I wasn't capable of. That got me through A'levels, and Uni just to show them. Some where along the way I found my own drive and motivation and if I was honest the attitude I had to do battle with helped me strive, but I would never thank them. I always wondered how well I would have done with support and help, I see the children around me and I try to give them the chance to dream, the space to be what ever they want, I know it is seen and appreciated by some as I have had them come back in later years and thank me. The odd Thank you is my fuel now, no more do I do it 'despite' them, now I do it for 'them'.

More 2 days later,
This is a few days on, again, and things have been very interesting, I have learnt so much about myself and others this week, I feel more settled and confident in my own skills, many worried nights of rehearsing different discussions in my head if I had to deal with problems has meant that when I finally had to raise things in person they came out how I wanted and came across in an acceptable manner. When I have one of my under confident days I will come back and read this!

My CPD side took a step forward, in all the brain wringing I have been doing my mind has been popping out answers to questions not connected as a distraction and I worked out how I want to collate my past work to set up my re-validation. I plan to use the audit sheet which is here and adding a column at the end for the criteria it covers. Then I can reorganize it later by either date activity or criteria! may add a type of column too so I can pull out training or visits etc.

I was also reading this from the Scottish Review about how to age gracefully rather than grow old, and how to have a hand in your own life even in our current climate of putting 'old folk' away and forgetting about them. My mum will not be moving now, she likes her home and her life, but since her last bout of  illness I worry for her so far from me. But she is also far from anyone but my brother, and my cousins are spread over half the world. The traditional village community has been gone for a few generations for me, since the first world war killed the last of my grandmothers family, and the second forced some to flee. I love being in a place with a community, the locals are pleasant and welcoming to me. I hope to age gracefully too.

Monday, 22 April 2013

Stormy Monday

Just noticed a tweet with a picture of some primulas and the tag line 'calm before the Monday storm'. Which oddly sums up both my to do lists and my emails, I have quite a lot on my plate for today so doubt this will be a long post :-) but to start with a smile.
This can be so true! thankfully not much in my present job but on the past! I spent some time on a telephony help desk, nothing I do now matches the intensity and pressure, the fear or hoop jumping of that post, makes me smile to hear colleagues at school complain of work and pressure, it doesn't match that, in my opinion.

This is the last Monday with all the school in until August, study leave starts this week, and I notice even less are ready this year than previous years. That isn't a criticism of the school but a comment on the children. I have had several discussions this last week about responsibility, and values. The pupils just don't realise that the help they get at school is carrying them to an extent, they get help and direction and they expect it, even moan if they are asked to do more! They are not 'work ready' I find myself waiting to meet them after they have been out in the world and have grown up. There is a sense of owed or carried in the youth and that includes my own, I have worked hard to show them what life is about, they are not hidden from reality, from the tough facts. When my husband lost his job and then found a new one and the changes that brought would not have been practical with out their help. I see my own job with my children as being one of nurture with an eye on making three useful members of society, responsible and good to know. I worry about my pupils and the world they are really going into, some will have nasty wake up calls.

My fave blog at the moment is The History Girls its full of interesting facts and stories and while some times its a bit 'and here's my books about it' it means I get a chance to find out more. Also I have been reading Books Young Adults Love who are doing a wonderful alphabet of books to recommend! 

The heavens have opened, the rain is falling in sheets and I havent brought all in out of my car yet! serves me right for getting caught up in work! But now I must go and do more during the Monday Storms.

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Headlong into summer

We have got to that time of year that every school has, that time when we know half the school will be off studying soon and all the things we put to one side to do during study leave suddenly seem important! The time scales short and the deadlines close, and worst of all every year we forget that we don't get that much time extra in study leave and have way too much to do in it! Every year I watch the teaching staff do this and point out it isn't going to happen that way, get ignored and then get a laugh when it doesn't happen as planned.

School has 2 weeks to the first exams and 4th years out, then 2 more to the rest of the 5th and 6th years out, Study leave runs until end of May, then somewhere in May the timetable changes, the New first years are in, in early June, then its summer holidays, so I tend to think of this time as the start of the long mad slide to summer holidays! I have so much to do for the school year change and much to do for the public library and summer activities too! but that is under some sort of order and no I am not waiting for more time during study leave to do it :-).

Spent the weekend going over what I have in my diaries for the last 3 years for my revalidation support, I am a dreadful person for stationary, so with some pretty post it note tags I started going through older school diaries back before I kept a personal one. Started to run out of tags around Jan 2012, managed to get to March 2013 before they all ran out, that does bode well for finding enough evidence and once I have pulled them out and written the ones I want up I should have a solid log of ongoing CPD. Didn't realise just how much I do, and go to until I ran out of tags, every week I go or contact somewhere, I haven't been logging web chats but must start them too, both typed and camera! they also class as informal meetings and need to be collated.

Had a lovely time yesterday at an informal knitting group that meets 10 am every Saturday at a local tearoom, and yesterday I took pics in the sunshine of the owner and friend of mine Ros, with her feet up, out side her place.
She only opened the Cups Tearoom in Scrabtser last May and is coming up to her first anniversary, the place is never empty and the food always good! I love choosing off the specials board as the food is always fresh and tasty  if you ever get to the far north, on your way to Orkney or just come visiting, please drop in on Ros and her lovely group of girls who wait on you with smiles.

I am also very taken by a blogger and twitter guy that I have been following for a while now, Ian has a certain turn of phrase and way of writing that I enjoy, even if I don't agree with his view or his solution I can see why he feels that way and can follow his logic. He also put up a nice and well balanced piece on the whole Thatcher fuss.

I'm afraid I must comment here, I promised I wouldn't talk about the passing of Baroness Thatcher but the recent rather strange situation in the British media has left me rather puzzled by the eruptions of such strong feelings, the choices made by the media, and the word choices being thrown round by seemly sensible sober groups. I am of an age to be a Thatcher child, I have no understanding of what was before past the bins un-emptied and the inflation that even hit my in primary school brain. I was of an age to vote before she left office and know the view was very much, who else could you vote for, there wasn't a credible opposition. I read the current writing very puzzled  I know she wasn't a god, but nor was she the devil. She did great things, some great and good, some great and terrible, but when did we live in world where we couldn't allow people to moan and groan, when did the media spokes people tell the public what not to say! Half the current issues seem to be that we have been told we must morn, or be quiet? Why, even when we lost Princess Diana the public had its own way to make itself known. Are commentators too scared? is the truth to be the last thing taken by the Thatcher Government?  
Sorry didn't mean to rant, but it is so all encompassing from the media and social media, People un-friending, un-following, I can understand not following someone who ideals is so far from your own, but to unfollow due to the current theme seems small and petty. A lot is said about the 'Me' generation, the selfish 80's she 'created', well here I am, one of the selfish 80's kids, but I feel we are too quick to apply tags and labels, (myself included at times) and not realise the full context. I may get some people un-following me as I haven't condemned her, or sung her praises, but it just seems to be media for the sake of media. I am now waiting to see if the Levinson enquiry gets dragged in to it all and some one says this is why the papers need more limits while some one else says this is why they need less, or left to do for themselves!  More media of any flavour just seems to make us all feel our point of view is valid, the louder you can shout the more you should be listened too.

That's my thoughts for now, and I am whispering them, and you don't have to agree or even get to the end :-), your view is as valid as mine. Back to working on my revalidation paperwork and may be even bother to get dressed, nah the rain is falling, no one is due, my PJ's suit my mood!

Monday, 8 April 2013

Spring time at last.

The sun is shining and the day has been warm, the snow is rare (but not yet gone) and the days are getting longer and the nights shorter. Just wish the night time temperatures would get above zero. The sky is blue and the sun warm, just taken some shots of the sunshine and the cats!
They are from the right Splodge (named by kids) who is mum, far left is smudge (also named by kids) and the oldest kitten we kept, and then nearest is smokey (who was grey at birth) and then midnight (who was black at birth) all out in the sun on my path.

I am sorting out my paper work for revalidation, I have toyed with doing it before and after the wonderful talk from the speakers last week, and the idea that it will help me help my mentees, I am doing it myself.
I have been keeping evidence for years, I need to make some of it in the right format and then winnow it to a decent selection showing my own ongoing CPD and I am ready! Yeah yeah It will be much harder than this, I have just spoken to another mentor and she was asking why I am not going for Fellowship! Ack I shall revalidate first then see what more I need to do. I have my tickets for the Umbrella 2013 paid for, I have my room booked and my transport sorted! Being so far from the metropolis I do a lot of my CPD online, I have to find the list of them and evaluate them! I realise I can also put in other things I do things for my wider world. Organising craft events, going to craft fayres etc and running craft groups at school. All skills that apply in work and out. I am currently full of ideas and energy for it, I shall keep mentioning it ongoing, and even when it has stalled.

I am thrilled to hear that Phil Bradley is writing a new book about internet usage! a few months left but I can't wait. wonder if it will be out for Umbrella! Also I ordered a second copy of the Portfolio handbook from Facet (see, you did sell one Michael) as I have lent my last copy and can't remember who to! I figure another copy will not be a problem.
I have also bitten the bullet and have made myself a portfolio creator, I figure it is being used in UHI and being recommended by Cilip and others I need to know how it works, I am a be fan of Brian Solis and his latest book is WTF of Business, and he is discussing digital Darwinism.The idea that our own future is very much in our own hands is scary and empowering. I 'woke up' to this nearly 3 years ago, and while it took me a little while to pick up what I needed to do and I have only realised this spring that it is ongoing and  unless I am giving up work I need to keep going. I am firm supporter of self driven CPD. I need to learn and change, adapt or give up are the only choices for us, I wish I could stand and shout it at colleagues, our history in Public libraries and local government has left us feeling owed or safe in our jobs. I came from a mixed back ground, some work was contract, some weekly and some even day by day. My mum ran her own company and I saw life from the top as well as the bottom. I understand that as a business we need to be the best we can, Our Head of Company came round last month and his message was 'good enough is not acceptable, we have to strive for best practice'. This is true in my work and in my own CPD, none of this is getting my report finished now though.

On a final note I had a fun day out at the craft fair, we didn't sell much but it was its first event and I hope I may go to the next one! but as promised I took a picture of the whole stall and my stuff on it :-).
a very mixed lay out but we had fun, sadly the table to the right of this picture was covered in cakes! tasted lovely from Grandma's cakes!!! so I spent more than I took!

Friday, 5 April 2013

Roller Coaster Ride of a week

I am late blogging, I have some very good excuses! honest I do...
Last week I was asked to be the face of the libraries at a visit to our county by the board of Management  I said yes,and then had a wonderful day, more about it later, but I enjoyed the challenge and being on the spot.

The long weekend just lulled me into a false sense of security, and allowed me to make more things for the craft fair which is looming now! I will take pics of the day and post next week. Then I went to Inverness on Tuesday to make sure I had a good night sleep for the Cilip portfolio building event I had helped organise on the Wednesday. I met the early train with our main speaker on, Mr Michael Martin who is Qualification Advisor, CPD based at Ridgemount Street in London, which holds fond memories of the basement hunting obscure references to hide the last minute rush of my course work :-) I am sure if I had put as much work into the content as I did on the obscurity I would have passed with a much higher mark :-). The train was on time and I found myself meeting a gentleman wrapped in a big thick coat and lovely Cossack style hat, in my shirt sleeves! The morning for me had been warm, nicely above freezing and the sun was shining  never waste some sunshine on a coat! Humor was found in the mixed views of the weather.

After leaving Mr Martin and CDG developmental officer Ruth Holmes setting up I went back to the station to collect Mr Ian Stringer. This day was a bit like a fantasy football line up, Michael was quietly inspirational, several participants came up and said how much they had enjoyed and got out of the day and that was just the first break! Ruth Spoke well and drew interest from everyone, even though she confessed to it being her first lead day, the rest wouldn't have known, she was great. Anna Herron, who captured my mind last time made the points I have tried making to my mentees so much better! The idea that the marker is a person, not to swamp them and make sure you fulfill the criteria. Amazing speaker and drew out chat from the whole group. Sadly Val Walker wasn't able to come, and while we did discuss mentors, I did miss her input.

The local 'just past' candidate was Robert Reid who is based in LSU, he is a computer wizz, and inside the organisation there are emails every so often that say 'I don't know, just send it to Robert, he'll fix it'. He chartered this January so could give a very immediate feedback to getting finished, a problem I am seeing more of :-), I loved his idea of stapling a CPD audit sheet to each record which allowed him to chose what he kept and what he could just dump! Robert hasn't had a lot of chance to talk in front of others but spoke well and showed a whole new level to his work and attitude, I was very pleased for him to do so well.

The whole event was rounded off by Ian, He spoke so easily and came from a whole new angle, I just hope the group of people there enjoyed his speech as much as I did. Amazing and challenging, the message that Cilip is us the members, not the committees, not the board or London but us, we make it and unless we make the effort to change it, we have not right to complain or moan. Makes me think of the Water babies by Charles Kingsley, and his wonderful characters namely Mrs Doasyouwouldbedoneby.

An exercise we did do on the day was using the CPD audit sheet here, which has 4 columns; Date, Activity, what you learnt, and what you have applied. I chose to look at the previous weeks Board visit (I said more later :-) ) The date isn't important, Helping at the Board visit, was my activity, the 'What I learnt' was how to be more positive, I had to 'sell' our services  and show how well we have done, and we had done very well. Being reflective and critical helps keep us aware and on our toes but it does mean we focus on the negative at times. The questions asked were good ones, the visitors all cared about the service and wanted to see more, ask more. I was more challenged and kept on my toes than by a double class of new first years! I had looked over figures and projections so I could answer these, but just looking at my own service from their eyes made me very proud. The next section 'What you have applied' was clear to me, I write the monthly report after this and put in my pride and having reviewed my month I also was able to find more positive things and a report a page and a half long was more like 3 pages. Which has encouraged me to sit back now and then to assess what we have done and done well. I know we must also ask what next and what could be better but that isn't an excuse to rush past the well done bit!

The roller coaster week happened due to my own forgetful nature, I meant to ring my mum on the weekend an forgot, she is a late to bed person but I try not to ring after 10 as she may be asleep, so at 9 pm ish on Wednesday flushed with happy success form the Cilip day, I rang her. Sadly I woke her and she was very tired and not sounding good, so I said goodnight and rang off. My brother then rings when I am at work yesterday (Thursday) to pass a message on she isn't well and to not ring her but he will ring me later. When he rang back I was expecting the news to be her poorly, but she is not well at all. She has finally agreed to care help, she has visits 3 times a day and the doctor visits to bring medicines. She has always been a very stubborn lady who would never ask for help (a fault I try not to copy too much), to have this much help means she is not well at all, my brothers biggest worry was I would come down to see her, but her biggest fear has always been, being seen as poorly, old or weak. If I went down it would upset her so much more than I am upset waiting here. So I work and do and try not to dwell.

We have also just been through April the first! I knew what day it was and thought no one would get me! then bam! saw this and believed it! dur, also have just been looking at my blog posts and one mentioned last years 'find' of a Unicorn Cook Book at the British Library! Sadly the other stories that have been cropping up are due to fire and not fun. the one that happened the day of the Cilip event was this, and now we lose a beautiful old building, but not as worrying as these, a friend is a fire fighter and was complaining last night that their clothes stink of smoke, and that they have averaged 4 hours a night sleep in the last 10 days! But with 80 fires in 72 hours at one point it has been worrying. While England and Southern Scotland has been covered in snow, we have just had dull and over cast but crucially no rain or snow! Dry Muir Burn has been a local thing for many years, but this year! not so good, but no burning off means no new growth for animals and food is already a problem for farmers, and just means the burn has to be next year and is more and thicker!

This is a shot of last years bad burn at Helmsdale, which took out acres and burned for days! The hill is still a bit of moonscape in places were the scars have not yet healed, and the fire has taken even the deep roots out, instead of the quick top burn that it should have been. We didn't go closer to take pictures as that would be just silly and dangerous.

Also I see one of the most amazing plays I have seen in years is Angus Weaver of grass and they plan another run! I would highly recommend it to anyone! And they are my blog recommendation :-). and Now I must catch up on days of emails, paperwork, and jobs put aside for the holidays for 'when I had time'.