Saturday, 5 January 2013

3d: Critical questions and issues that emerge

It's the 5th January 2013, and I'm writing up the last blog of the first module. As you can tell, I'm behind again!!!  I read Adesola's helpful tips on completing the critical reflection, and her advice not to panic about completing all of the tasks. Although I understand her thoughts completely on this, I knew that for me psychologically, I needed to feel that I had completed the first module fully.I needed to have extracted all that I possibly could and explored all of the new concepts that I was introduced to before I could move forward.

Critically reflecting on the module, I can see how I've changed. I've definitely adopted a more critical approach to my professional practice. and my professional networking tools. I now question everything that I do and why I am doing it.

Time Management - Starting the course late due to work commitments, I have always felt I was playing 'catch-up'. This has forced me to evaluate my personal time management skills. I have struggled to find time to complete all of the work for this module in the time given. This has left me frustrated at times, feeling that my blogs were rushed and of poor quality. Although I have read with great interest, fellow students' blogs, I feel I haven't interacted with others as much as I could have done. I see this as a definite area for development.

Due to work being so hard to find in this industry, it is extremely difficult to turn any offers down. However, because of the panto job, I have only had a couple of days free since I started the course and this really hasn't been enough to complete the tasks as well as I feel I could do.  Initially I hoped to be able to blog in the dressing room and between shows, but I soon realised that I wasn't that clever and needed to take time to concentrate and read around the subject.  I have had to look at my planning processes and time management. I have made the decision to dedicate more time to study for the upcoming tasks. I really want to get this degree and aim to make this my priority for 2013.

- Blogging is a new networking tool for me and now I can't understand why I hadn't blogged before.  When I first started on the course, I was amazed by just how many people I knew, some of whom I hadn't seen in years.  I have spent hours catching up on old friends' blogs and it has been such an encouragement for me to see their success. 
 (Sina Leigh who I used to do panto with every year when we were in our early teens, Nancy Osbaldeston who is a good friend from dancing school days, Alicia Beck who I remember from dance festivals, Emily Harris who I went to College with and Steph Larty who worked with me on my last contract. Such a small world.).

Blogs have also become a great source of knowledge to me. They introduced me to new concepts and ideas, such as creating mind maps, blogging in poetry and pictures, creating professional Facebook pages and joining twitter, etc. My aim for the next module is to get involved and interact more with fellow students.  I feel that I have not been as involved as I could have been. I also hope to continue to explore new concepts.

Looking at fellow students' blogs it seems that we have all at times been overwhelmed with the work. It is good to know that we all share the same experiences.  I feel such a connection with my fellow bloggers and at times reading about their experiences has kept me focused and motivated.  It is refreshing and inspiring to read about their achievements.  I was so pleased for Chelsie Johnson, as I'm sure everyone else was. When she got the job in pantomime, I could see why she chose the job over the holiday in Florida. We are a unique breed in the performing world, always chasing the dream and the next job.

 - Computer skills - Since starting this course I have a greater appreciation of Web 2.0 and the use of media sources as a networking tool.  Creating a blog and building up a professional profile has helped build my confidence in computer technologies. I have been able to put these skills into practice, sending out my show reel and links to my flickr account to prospective employers. I plan to continue to build on my existing skills in order to give me an advantage in the recruitment and audition processes.  I do however still realise the importance of face to face contact, telephone conversations, sending out hard copy C.Vs by post, keeping a diary and writing letters. I believe that there is still a place for conventional methods of communication in our increasingly technology-driven world.

- Introduction to the Theorists - Personally, I found this the most fascinating part of module one which led me on to a process of self-discovery.  I discovered that I learnt best by visual stimuli and this has changed how I study. Understanding how people learn can only help me in the future to recognise these different learning styles in others and help me design suitable and varied methods for teaching others. 

Reading about Axelrod's theory of cooperation was also thought provoking, exploring the idea that people only enter relationships to see what they can get out of them.  It has made me reflect on my professional contacts and what those relationships achieve. I also feel this will be a useful tool for me when teaching as a collusion method.

-Critical reflection now forms part of my daily life. I suppose I always did it, but I didn't analyse or make decisions based on my critical reflections before, or even put a name to it.  I now use reflection to decide what course of action to take. For example, by critically reflecting back on this first module and the problems I have faced with time management, I have been able to evaluate my commitment and make the decision to turn down long term contracts overseas. This may seem fool hardy to some, but it is a gamble I am willing to take at this stage in my career, as my success on this course is extremely important to me.


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