Monday, 19 October 2015

Finding Balance...

A note for all this week on finding balance...helpful not just in the dance studio, but in our lives.

As you really get into the flow of your study now, working through the module handbooks, reading, reflecting, thinking about the documents you will write it is important to find your relationship with the MA.  That may sound easy, especially as this MA is centred around you and your professional practice, but being in a relationship with it, one that is harmonious and fruitful may not be so straight forward at times.

Achieving a balance between work, study, home can be tricky and something of a juggling act at times.  Try to breathe (always!) and look at things (tasks, to do lists) in bite-size chunks.  Whilst we have been stressing the importance to the connections through the MA as a whole, these can be the undercurrents rather than the waves you ride each day.  Try to focus on a task each week, rather than overload yourself with too much forward thinking.  Sometimes in a race to get to the finish line (assessment  / graduation) you can miss the beauty of the journey.

As you work through Module One, have in mind the final presentation of your work - a Portfolio of your learning presented via your annotated (extended) CV, current Job Description and your claims for accreditation (Area Of Learning essays) illustrated with supporting materials.  Refer to the images for this and signposting on Adesola's blog as a way to visualise what this might look like, then approach it one task at a time.  Let the AOL titles emerge from the process of annotating your CV (reflecting on your prior learning experiences).  This way one thing speaks to the next and the balance between them comes more naturally than 'plucking' titles to write to that may then become onerous tasks.  At the end of the first module you also submit a Review Of Learning essay, offering you a chance to make explicit the connections for your through this module and reflect on the learning journey of this term.  You cannot do this until the end of the module, so let it sit for now, on your radar, but not something 'to do' yet.

In Module Two balance is largely between extending your understanding of your proposed subject area (for your research inquiry) and deepening your knowledge of research as a whole, of approaches to research and methods of research; both through a process of questioning.  The harmony here is achieved when the research methodologies begin to align with methods and are in balance with your questions - not answering them, but in balance with them.

Module Three's you're eventually trying to find a balance between your written paper, oral presentation and professional artefact in the holistic sharing of your research process with a wider community.  In the process of finding that balance you will be looking at the relationship between 'things'; the data, the literature, your experiences.  Right now you're probably in the depths of data collection, questioning, probing, listening, reflecting, responding to the many different light bulbs turning on for you...

Keep it all in perspective.  What balances for you one day may not the next, what balances for one of you simply may not for the next person.  So 'striking a balance'? I'm not sure we truly do, weaving through relationships, balancing multiple things, thoughts, feelings in a constant, fluid process...yes.

What are your thoughts?


Sunday, 4 October 2015

Conversations and Connections...

Great to talk with everyone during this morning's Skype call.

It was really good to hear you sharing your thoughts on your learning, your practice and your research, in response to these conversations I said I would blog about the holistic approach of the MA itself in terms of connections and conversations that are happening throughout the modules and throughout your learning.

I find it interesting the ways in which we identify ourselves through the roles we assume; teacher, student, dancer, parent; and hear this through the MA as identifying as module one, two or three. I wanted to talk a little about how we might approach our identities through the MA from a more holistic perspective, one which sees all of these identities (and others) as connected elements of us.

Whilst the MA, and other programmes and roles we encounter, may appear divided in terms of structure - we have 3 modules, each one needing to be 'completed' before moving on to the next, the programme as a whole places you at the centre of it and as such points to you being the connecting thread between the specificities of each module.  It is important to recognise that the MA, like other aspects of your life, is not something separate from you.  It is something you have chosen to embark on at a particular point in your life, your career and as such is a part of your life journey.  

I feel that one of the values of the MA is that it offers you a framework through which to explore your thoughts and experiences around your professional practice.  The MA itself does not give you the answers, or provide the steps you must take in order to advance your practice, but its intention is more to stimulate and draw out your own thoughts and experiences and help you to situate them within a broader frame of reference - dance pedagogy.  We tend to identify with a particular place that marks in someway where we are and how we feel at a particular time in our lives.  Being on Module Two of the MA for example offers a context to the shape of our learning and being at this point perhaps, but our learning is not confined only to the demands of the module.  There are specific 'things' that the module requires you to attend to; literature review, ethics proposal, research methods, in the same way that Module One asked you to identify specific Areas of Learning through reflection on your prior experiences, but these tasks are not external things as such.  They are prompts to explore different layers of you perhaps.  You move between them and make sense of them because you are connected to them, they exist and have value because of you.

The monthly Skype calls and our blogs are a great example of the importance of having conversations around our practices, conversations which go across the modules and beyond the structures of the university into the wider profession.  The different modules allow for different perspectives and layers of learning, but the MA as a whole, you as practitioners, is connected; one module to the next, the whole programme to you and your professional practice.  It important to allow those conversations for yourselves to flow through the modules, as they flow through your lives.  Let them be guided by structures but not limited to them perhaps.

How does that sound for you?


Friday, 2 October 2015

Week 1...

Thoughts for the first week of term;

Hopefully you've all been able to access your Module handbooks now (UniHub / MyLearning / MA Professional Practice dance technique pedagogy page / Handbooks folder) and had a little time to read through and maybe begin to digest them.  
Maybe you've been able to find (or re-find) a quiet space for your learning?  
Got your blogs up and running?  
Met fellow MAPPers (online at least)?
If you haven't don't panic! do talk to your advisor if you're stuck with anything though!

Week by week we aim to support and guide your journey through the MAPP via our blogs, posting reminders as to tasks to be looking at, drafts of papers to submit to us, our own observations, thoughts, musings or articles/videos we think may be of interest to you.  Please do get into the habit of checking in with our blogs on a weekly basis as well as writing your own, feel free to comment on ours, each others whenever you want to it's a great way to get conversations going and take thoughts further.
Those new to the MA, if you have set up your blog and sent us your address you're now added to the list of blog addresses on unihub so that others can find and follow your blog - have a go this week at posting something, sharing your thoughts coming onto the MA maybe, something of your area of work, so that others can begin to get to know you a little.  As we go through the term we will ask you to pick up on elements of each others blogs in order to form seeds of discussion for our monthly Skype meetings.

Our first group Skype meeting is this weekend 
SUNDAY OCT 4TH, we offer a morning (1100) and an afternoon (1700) (UK time) slot, you need to check Adesola's blog
and comment to let her know which call you would like to join, make sure you have connected with her on Skype <aonthephone> and she will call you in.
Look forward to talking on Sunday!