Getting Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy…it’s a process

I’ve not blogged for a while…and there have been quite a few changes since I last wrote a post. So this will be my semi-regular attempt to get back into the blogging, which will inevitably end with me just stopping. But I’m trying something slightly new. I want to write a series of blog posts on the process I’m goinig on over the next 18 months to get Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy. I need to get this to pass my probation as a lectuer, but it’s also something that I am actually quite interested in doing – maybe not so much the actual title (FHEA), but more so the opportunity to learn about how to teach in the Higher Education sector. I feel like erverything I’ve been teaching so far has been based on my experiences and learning of my undergrad degree in Primary School Education. This can be useful, but also 18+ year old students probably need slightly different skills and ways of being taught than 5-13 year old kids!

In my current job, I’m able to take part in the PGCAP course, which is an 18 month, 3-module part time degree that will result in me having a PGDiploma (I think?) and hopefully also the FHEA. So far it seems like a lot of bureaucracy (lots of paper filling for the sake of paper filling), but we also have a 2h session every Wednesday where a very enthusiastic and caring man is giving us some tips about how to teach but also providing us with some theoretical backing for lots of different teaching and learning styles.

It’s been really interesting to get back into pedagogy and to think again more deeply about what I am teaching, how I am teaching it, and why I am teaching it in this way! For the first couple of weeks, I’m going to try to focus on improving diversity and inclusion in my teaching. I started this over the summer when I added a few different readings to the (very small) reading list on the design brief for students that are maybe a little bit out of designers’ comfort zones, but that are so important! I added Alex Ahmed’s ACM Interactions Viewpoint titled ‘Beyond Diversity’ (https://dl.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=3225621) and Joyojeet Pal’s alt.chi paper ‘CHI4Good or Good4CHI’ (https://dl.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=3052766). I think both of these raise really important issues, particularly for a module where students are supposed to think about critical design, design fictions, and the societal implications of design.

On top of the reading list though, I’m trying to cover a diversity of topics, that I hope will relate to different students (and I’m asking students what ‘trends and futures’ they’d like to cover as part of the module!). I’m also trying to cover these topics in diverse ways, to facilitate learning for students in different ways – group work, solitary work, research, design, sketching, ideation, etc. again in an attempt to meet students where they are – to develop existing skills but also perhaps sometimes providing them with something slightly new that they maybe havn’t encountered so far.

So, I’ve not said much in this post, but here’s what I’m trying to say: I’m going to use this PGCAP course as an excuse to try to write some blog posts again. They’re going to focus on my teaching, reflections on what has worked and what hasn’t, perhaps some case studies of activities I’ve done with the students, and an analysis of some of my teaching materials.

I’m not going to say whether this series will be weekly or monthly, it’ll probably be when I have time and energy to do this. But I’m hoping writing reflexively throughout the semester (and really the 18 months) will help me develop my teaching in different ways. Maybe it’ll also help me with the assignment(s) I have to submit as part of the PGCAP, but hopefully it’ll also lead to some conversations about learning and teaching in Higher Education (particularly in design eduation) on social media. So here goes.

Drama Update!

Sorry to keep you waiting on this topic…

The kids did GREAT in the performance! Some parents came to watch and they remembered everything and were able to perform everything without my help (yay! Goal achieved!)

Of course it could have been rehearsed more, but when you think that the whole thing was practically done in a week..that’s pretty amazing. Especially because none of the kids had ever done drama before, and they don’t really know much English…so to be able to perform a short play in a language they barely speak is admirable!

-sorry, but I can’t figure out how to upload a video that’s not on youtube…-

So, CONGRATULATIONS kids of the Ganganagar Learning Center Drama Club!

I love what I do.

Yesterday was my first official and full day of classes.

05:45 wake up
06:15 chiya
06:45 leave house
07:00 nursery-grade 4 ESL
08:00 grade 5 – grade 7 ESL
09:45 Daalbhat
12:00 grade 3 – grade 5 ESL
14:00 – 16:00 theatre club
17:00 grade 8 – grade 10 ESL

This means that my days are very tiering…BUT, and there’s a big BUT, they are so worth all the effort in planning, walking there and energy I use during my lessons.

My day starts with the beautiful walk to Ganganagar, where tiny frogs, colourful butterflies and zooming dragonflies are my companions. Where the grasshoppers happily jump from stone to stone, and where the luscious greens of the rice paddies show me the way to the learning centre.

At this time of day the sun is already up, yet not high enough for it to be extremely hot. At this point in time, the temperate temperatures makes for a beautiful, soothing walk along the dirt road.

Once I get close to town, the children, women, and men greet me warmly with their smiley Namaste’s and as I reach the learning centre I am greeted by a horde of 5 to 10 year olds with bright hello’s. The games that follow seem to be thoroughly enjoyed by the kids for an hour. Now come the older kids. Different children, different games, different topics, but the same enthusiasm. These hours really are enjoyable.Up until now I have been staying until 9:30 instead of 9:00 because the kids want to play the games again and again (Which should be a good sign, no?)

We say our goodbyes and i walk back towards Dhenauji.

So what happened today was that a woman, who was riding her bike to, probably her home, stopped in the middle of the road, said ‘hello, what is your name?’ ‘Angelika’. *smile* ‘Ek chin’ wait, a minute. So I wait as she parks her bicycle under a roof and comes back to me. She walks BACK to where I am going, and where she came from, just to find out what I was doing and how long I would be here and if I liked Nepal.

This is one of the many reasons why I fell in love with Nepal.

Back at home I rest for something like 20 minutes before my Nepali teacher randomly showed up. It was so nice of him! At the end of my last lesson with him he had announced his ‘coming to check on me and my Nepali skills’ after a while. So today was that day. He didn’t really ‘check’ on my language skills. He just wanted to know how I was doing, and if I was enjoying myself and if I remembered anything, and to invite me for chiya at his house. Just like that. Because he liked me. Yea Nepal. 🙂 And it wasn’t one of those ‘if you’re ever in the neighborhood, you can drop by’ kind of invitations either, it was a sincere, honest ‘i will be upset if you don’t come!’ kind of invitation. He gave me a map and everything. So I guess I will have chiya with this lovely man and his wife.

I prepared the lessons for tomorrow and then it was time for my 12 o’clock lesson with the kids of Dhenauji. I thought it would be GREAT to add a couple pages made by the kids to a picture book…but I don’t know if they enjoyed it…to compensate for my misjudged ‘fun’ activity, we played some of the games they wanted to play from yesterday’s lesson.

Drama club was GREAT today. Somehow, there were more kids present than there were on my list (this is also a good sign, no?) and we danced and shouted, and whispered, and laughed, and cried, and ran around, and were confused, and didn’t understand each other, but actually did understand each other and we went through an entire roller-coaster of emotions…since the topic of today was, well, emotions. I really enjoyed it. And on my walk back I couldn’t stop smiling. Even after I reached my room, I couldn’t stop smiling. Have you ever tried drinking water while smiling? Yea..it’s kind of hard. 🙂
One hour later, the girls show up. Oh, what a fun 1.5h. These girls seem to always be up for a laugh. We already have some nicknames for each other…namely rhino, dinosaur and monkey (not everyone has one yet!). Although these have less to do with our looks, and more to do with what we would take with us on a trip (yes..this is from a learning game…).

I could keep writing for hours…I could keep talking about how much teaching really is the right job for me, and that although I sometimes, rather often, have said: ‘bleh! I’m sick of this! I want to do something else! I don’t want to teach! I don’t want to be a teacher for the rest of my life!’, I think, at least for now, it really is the right thing for me. It is the only thing that I do that gives me more energy than it takes away. I am so much more alert, mentally present, and awake after my lessons than I am before. At night however, it’s a different story. I fall into bed at around 9 o’clock and I fall asleep almost immediately.

So, I will stop boring you on this topic. All in all, I’m glad I’m a teacher.