Three more weeks!

So, here we go with another three weeks of home working, home socialising and home schooling.

As education professionals, we’re very good at encouraging others to learn through reflecting on their experiences, but some of us (or perhaps it really is just me) aren’t great at doing this ourselves.

In penance then, here’s what I’ve learned in the last month that will hopefully stand me in good stead for the next one.

It’s not the end of the world - work can continue online (after a fashion).

I’m a trainer in personal, management and employability skills, so don’t benefit from (or is that ‘am not constrained by’) a large academic infrastructure behind me. Although I have run online training before, my natural environment is a classroom, so I have had to rethink a few things as I’ve transitioned 100% online.

Skype and Zoom are fine for one to one coaching and action learning sets but don’t quite cut the mustard for participative training, especially when learners’ previous experiences are of a physical classroom. So, I’ve had to buy in to bigger and better online software to do more of what I did in a classroom. I very much enjoyed Jenni and Susan’s recent blogs here about keeping learning interactive and absolutely agree about personal introductions, polls and ‘break out’ rooms.

There is a marvelous community around us!

I haven’t just been making more use of these pages and other institute resources (which have always been there) but I have had more and deeper conversations with clients, delegates and other trainers than before and I’ve been struck by peoples’ generosity of time, thought and ideas.

Of course, there’s been a tremendous sense of community ‘out there’ as well. Here in South London, we’re probably not alone in having a street WhatsApp group and that’s been heartening. I do though sometimes wonder whether there could be neighbours starving in self isolation too embarrassed to ask for help as it would interrupt long running threads about jigsaw puzzle swaps, bedding plants and the regular updates on which local shops have strong white bread flour in stock.

It’s been good to step back and take stock.

In the short term, it was a bit of a scramble to re-work slide decks and exercises so they’d ‘work’ online, and I’m not pretending I’m there yet. More broadly though, it’s been really useful to research new material, read up on case studies and update examples. I need to find a way to build this into my schedule afterwards.

I’m less self-conscious about how I look!

For my first few forays into online training, I was keen to look the part - I usually wear a jacket and tie for classroom training, so why not now? - and tried to remove ‘lightweight’ books from any shelves visible in the background. But in the last week or so, I’ve taken my tie off and put back the crime novels and history books. I know you can have fun with backgrounds with platforms like Zoom, but the novelty is fading quickly. I think I’ve seen more of the Golden Gate Bridge in three weeks than an average San Franciscan does.

Take a break!

It’s as important to strike a ‘work life’ balance now as it ever has been. I am lucky enough to have a small study upstairs, so there’s always been a physical separation between the two. But now that work is 100% home based, it’s crucial to peel off the headphones and take time away from the screens. I also know I need to expand my exercise repertoire to incorporate something gentler than Jo Wicks’ 30-minute PE session each morning which can leave my legs smarting well into the afternoon.

And on that note, I should probably stop now and go for a walk. Besides, I’ve just heard that the Co-op round the corner has had an egg delivery.

Take care everyone!