When we began designing and running our ‘in person’ training events, it was important to us that we did so with an indivisibility of principles.
‘In this event or design, are we engaging safely, fairly and fully?’ is one of the questions we continually reflect upon. Over time, we have adapted, modified and created learning experiences in response to our self-reflection and the feedback from participants.
While there are times when we need to share information directly, our events are not lectures where participants are passive recipients of information. Our in-person events involve participants being immersed in collaborative problem-solving experiences. They work in small groups as they learn tools and processes, engage in reflection and feedback and develop ideas about how to adapt their learning to their individual settings. The close interaction also helps to quickly generate a strong sense of community.
We summarised our challenge in the following question:
‘In an online environment, how do we facilitate active, real-time collaborative problem-solving and nurture a sense of community when participants are remotely connected?’
As the day approached, we began checking the weather apps every few hours, noting, to our dismay, the gradual change from an expected day of full sunshine to an overcast day with a high certainty of heavy rain. Astonishingly, Nash Point appeared to support its own microclimate and we were blessed with clear skies and sunshine, even though we could see rain further along the coast in both directions!
This meant that our planned reception meal – a picnic on the grass – was able to take place. Each of our limited number of guests received their personalised, individual ‘goody bag’ containing bottled water, pre-wrapped foodstuffs and a piece of ‘wedding cake’ – a Tunnocks’ Tea-Cake! A thoughtful guest supplied surprise bottles of Prosecco and No-secco! There were, however, some uninvited guests in the form of small caterpillars, who seemed to like some official guests more than others!
When we work on collaborative problem-solving, whether it be adults or children, one of the biggest hurdles to success is attitude. Not just our attitude towards solving the problem, but our attitude towards the people we are working with.
Building community is not always easy. Maintaining community is not always easy. Repairing community is not always easy. However, it becomes easier when we approach each other with respect instead of animosity; when we listen instead of just speak; when we empathise instead of persecute; when we include instead of isolate; and, when we are truthful instead of deceitful.
Who we are is important. Our identity, our beliefs and our values make up our sense of self. How we are is a manifestation of those beliefs and values – the way we interact with other people – our character.
If we are to build communities which are fair and safe, then character matters. It matters not only in uniting people through commonalities but also how we manage and work through our differences to make things better for everyone not just a few.
2010 - 2020
Today, we celebrate ten years of Single Steps Learning!
At the beginning of March, we were trying to decide when it would be best to take two or three days summer holiday, during July, as we prepared for a full event schedule in the academic year 2020/21.
Then coronavirus arrived and lockdown happened. Like everyone else, we had to figure out how to deal with the ‘new normal’ as our own personal circumstances dictated – different boats, same storm. For the first time in almost 10 years we were ‘off the road’ and facing a future that was, and still is, very uncertain.
In thinking about the future, we inevitably reflected on the past and what an incredible journey it has been…
We have enjoyed friendships with people, whose support and generosity has been so important to us and our survival. We have met so many inspiring people, who don’t recognise how good they are due to their genuine humility. We have had the opportunity of working with learners of all ages - being able to share in their challenges and achievements. Moreover, we have had the privilege of learning from them too.
In ten years, a lot has changed. On a professional level, we have been doing more settings-based projects than off-site training courses. On a personal level, we have climbed 17.6 Munros, and have 1760 more grey hairs between us!
What hasn’t changed is our belief that our thoughts and actions can make a positive difference to the lives of other people. For the last ten years, we have chosen to do that via Single Steps Learning by creating and designing experiences, which provoke engagement in the process of learning and building community, through collaborative problem-solving.
Whatever awaits us in the future, as Single Steps Learning or not, that belief will continue.
Thank you to everyone who has helped us, inspired us, supported us and, on occasion, challenged us. So, raise a glass (or a mug) with us tonight to celebrate! You are all part of Single Steps Learning.
Andrew and Lynne
Plus ça change, plus ce la meme chose!
The more things change…the more they stay the same.
Lockdown, social distancing, shielding, family bubbles. How quickly these words have become part of our everyday vocabulary. With the arrival of the covid-19 coronavirus, the world changed and the world had to respond to change.
Just days before lockdown, we witnessed education professionals, grappling with the challenges of how they were going to provide some kind of education continuity for their learners. How? When? What? Who? Why? All valid questions which were often met with responses which would sometimes be invalidated the following day.
It was, and still is collaborative problem-solving, which we could not have imagined three months ago.
However, despite the unprecedented nature of the challenge (perhaps requiring specific, new knowledge and technical skills) the ‘big questions’ remain the same and so do the generic skills and attitudes required to respond to them successfully?
‘How do make sure this is learning environment is fair?’ ‘How do make sure this learning environment is safe (both physically and emotionally).’ ‘How do we make sure everyone feels valued?’ ‘How do we make sure everyone engages fully?’
However different the ‘new normal’ appears, if we are able to respond effectively to these ‘old’ questions, then continuity will be achieved.
We've just realised that we published our last post over a year ago. 🤔
Time really does fly when you are busy! It also makes you reflect on which social media platforms you use, how manageable they are to maintain and whether they are the best way of communicating with our followers, colleagues and friends.
We will be updating and streamlining our main website in the next few months. If you have a preferred way of connecting with us regularly, please let us know by completing the survey.
It's November already and we can't quite believe that 2017 is passing so quickly. This year, we have been involved in an increasing number of Designer Projects.
Our Designer Projects have grown in popularity since 2016, with forward bookings in place until July 2019. Each project involves 'Embedded CPD/CLPL' for the staff involved, as well as a series of linked learning experiences for the children over a 2-week period. A project website is developed and updated daily, a photo-book produced and a family engagement event organised and led by the children involved.
We must say 'thank you' to David Lewis (Headteacher), the staff, children and families of Aberbargoed Primary School for being the pioneers of these type of projects. It was been a pleasure working alongside you all.
On Friday, it was the turn of Class 6 to have an audio recording of The State Song. They performed the song with an echo and a change in tempo. Enjoy!
Take a look at the project website.