Microteach Pt 3: Reflection

It was in that (starred) moment that a few people in the room were feeling out of their comfort zones.

Shumi drew attention to feeling too uncomfortable to do such a thing. Eliott spoke of economic requirements of lecture hour allocation and consideration of formal ‘teaching’. (quotation marks my own). I felt from a few members in the room that they were having their own experience.

I had hoped my point had landed regarding personal agency over initiating information exchange (teaching). But considering Eliott’s blog post, his key takeaway focuses on the (very real) pressure on academics to squeeze learning into every moment. Time and space to engage in such an activity appears luxurious.

It is interesting to reflect on a colleague’s reflection. I will reflect on this reflection at some later reflective point.

I wish I could speak to more colleagues but the following are my takeaways.

Use a magician’s reveal, show the hypothesis and expected results.
Prove your point and then follow up.

What is my personal POV. How will I take it further?

In the creation of this session, a fair amount of time was invested into research which is unseen and unexplored by the wider group. Time is limited. I would like to share these resources in retrospect and offer an opportunity to explore in future 1-1 sessions or in shaping my lessons plan with respect to learning outcomes.

Go Further? (Follow up blog post)

Microteach Pt 2 The Session

My mind is whirring, trying to keep track of everyone and everything…

Body language, eye contact and direction,
attention, are they ‘with’ me,
the first to speak is brave, the second is supportive
stay patient, believe in the process.

The following is what is written on my notes.
[an attempt at filling the gaps in my sporadic note taking]

This is what is happening [in the room]
[someone asks what is happening] [Me:] What would you like [?]
[Eliott:] Rauschenberg paintings
White House
Speculation on Where
Does he [have a pair]
Is it a coincidence [Name shared with plane]
Is it just the white ones [called AF1]
no [clear statement of[ knowledge
share personal [connections and anecdotes]
shumi is right [regarding name:]
Nike 'Air Force'
[Eliott:?] Plutonic Trainer [the idea of the forms?]
'Not Minimalist'
Box Fresh
Sweat [someone talks about smell]
Indiana Jones
Star Wars
Back to the Future
White Central
[At this point 5 minutes is up and I intervene]

The following is a reflection, a re-telling of the session from memory.
As a result it could, and should, be considered tainted by my personal perspective and bias.
[reflections in square brackets]

(Left Hand Side = Me)
Padlet projected onto wall without direct instruction
Image: white Air Force One trainers on a white background.

(Right Hand Side = Audience)
Classroom silent
Appear attentive on the surface.

A minute passes

I feel nervous/excited, perhaps I project this.

Student-lecturers exchange glances
Looking for instruction?[perhaps I imagined this]
Nerves appear mutual.

I begin taking notes.
This is a conscious gesture using nonverbal signals to demonstrate I am mentally present.
[I try to make no clear signals, any action I perform will lead the group]
Notable tension, head turning and comments

Sergio asks if I know the clock is ticking.

I showed him my 5 minute countdown.

Audience feel more at ease*
They begin to comment more freely on the image
Questions about origin story, information exchange

After 5 minutes, I explained that my silence functioned as a space for them (to read the image and form a perspective). Their response (open questions and information exchange) unconsciously supported the intentions behind the gesture: ‘The lesson begins when you decide’ and ‘you have as much to offer each other as I do’. 

Questions were answered and I shared more AF1 images as we discussed and dissected the image:

design, sports origins, Black culture, hip-hop, appropriation, advertising design, high Fashion, business strategy, status as Nike’s number 1 seller, raised questions over ethics and politics; who profits from what culture and speculated on what the shoe now symbolises.

*This (starred) moment is key for me.
This was a peak experience (as described by Maslow). An echo to the feeling gained while collaborating with Anthea Hamilton as part of OSE’s 2020/1 cohort. This particular feeling of poignancy, that something important was happening crystallised this moment in my mind.

  • Key feedback and takeaways…
  • Opening performance matches the white image (minimalism)
  • Holding back as a technique for capturing attention
  • Session evolved over time
  • Different forms of performance
  • Good engagement with the session,
  • Concern over online engagement
  • Unsure of explicit relation to learning outcomes

Microteach Pt 1 Approach

This session went through a number of iterations before finding its home.

The journey is as integral as the final product, a key learning and pedagogical pillar.
(Lots more to come)

First, a melange of images, a create your own lecture/tutorial.
*But no, not enough time for the required depth, less is more*

An image of the singer Adele wearing a Jamaican Bikini top & Bantu Knots
*In testing, one viewer did not realise it was a famous English musician.
Consider the potential audience member, it may trigger defensiveness.
Lets not go there*

Dragonball Z – 4+ images
*Less is more, consider the anti-blackness inherent in sharing blatantly racist caricatures
will the audience know the series, is it juvenile? does this hinder or help?
Do I want to talk about white supremacist ideology in Japanese culture?
This is heavy stuff, I would rather save this for a more appropriate setting.
Character design is appropriate for BA Illustration, but less so for a PGCert.
Let’s go less confrontational.

There is value in choosing the past of least resistance.

The decision to veto DBZ (for now) was fuelled by a desire to listen to the annoying voice in the back of my mind. Often when taking a creative risk I have ignored this feeling, perhaps deluded and blind to a conceptual flaw, masked by an egotistical desire to centre my will.

Here the lesson was to listen to your own advice.
It is often mentioned that we’re able to give better advice to others resulting from our lack of emotional attachment. It is important to look within for the signs of self deception and pull at the thread. Often we see the same loose thread thinking it’s a mirage, after a few times…pull at it, see what happens.

Note: as this goes to submission and I reflect, the decision was in some ways a good one. Perhaps many of these images suit particular audiences. There is an inherent risk when playing with fire. In retrospect, I’d consider Tony Bliar. (No typo).

Object Based Learning

Thinking in retrospect, images as objects has been core to my practice for many years now, and it is through these objects that I have learnt my craft. From the films of the French New Wave, fashion design icon and iconoclasm. It is through looking and learning that my skill, craft and pedagogy have been practiced and sharpened.

Icon and Idea by Herbert Read was influential before my artistic practice developed. Recent years have seen this consideration of the image extend into its myriad forms; still, moving, sonic.

Existing in many dimensions, allows the learning to take place in a multitude of settings. From the well known physcial university setting, to a particular context that imbues a feeling and online, where still and moving images come into their own. New technologies further enhance this, with novel methods of visualisation (i.e. 3D modelling) allow us to explore images in a completely new way.

This poses the object as a problem/challenge to be deciphered question to be questioned.

Whether it is a personal object, ambiguous one, or one contextually charged with meaning.

This links very clearly to a core pedagogical desire of mine: the improvement of visual literacy, considering intersectional modes of thought.

Centring something external to the group, we navigate and unpick it together.

It allows space for individuals to bring a part of themselves and express agency and selfhood, whilst connecting with peers and engaging in peer-to-peer learning. Sometimes it is helpful to give this upfront, sometimes it is better to return at a later point.

It is helpful to gauge the group and their commitment at any given moment.

It is important to consider the image (object) very carefully as they can be triggering.

Signpost appropriately and allow space for people to leave the room.

Finally the replay-ability of online is core to my pedagogy.

I believe in balancing commitment with sustainability.

Burnout culture and expectations put pressure on people to perform.

Lecturers in delivery, students in absorbtion.

I have learnt better in re-looking, re-visiting, re-watching.

Pedagogy of Re-

Curriculum design & assessment, Teaching strategies

Some social commentators have stated that the pandemic forced us to jump forward in technological and logistical development.

The emergence of online platforms is here to stay and it need not be net negative.

Embrace the medium, it’s limitations and opportunities.

So when the decision was made to cancel face-to-face teaching, it felt poignant to frame this as an opportunity. Below are some learnings.

The medium facilitates a number of modes of communication. These include, one to one, one to many, some to some, some to many. The use of the main space as a traditional lectern hall and breakout rooms as tutorial spaces, feels an appropriate extension of physical into digital.

Attention payload is much higher online. Communicating through the internet is new and poses new challenges. One of the greatest challenges sits within each student’s attention span. To capture and keep attention various strategies must be employed. The prior requires a variety of stimulation & provocation, variation in group sizes appropriate to the mode of communication, multi-media approach and strategic consideration of student positionality, interests and learning styles. Keeping attention requires us to consider fatigue, sessions must be shorter and offer a multitude of breaks, ensuring media is not too data heavy/triggering/numerous and is sufficiently considered as appropriate, simple and open.

***Update: 24/02***

Reviewing the session’s recording (another pro for the virtual university), the following notes are pertinent:

Student consideration
Motivation (intrinsic vs external) [individual, team, institution, education…etc]
What are we fostering?
Metrics & ranking, neoliberal competition in university
Workload and wellbeing
Adapt to the institution?
The Slow University

Institutional Research


Not going to lie, I found this confusing from the get go

“Should we research our own institution?”

This statement feels so open and without clear oorientation, at least for me.

This begs a question regarding the privilege of knowledge.

Having recently formally joined the arts via Open School East’s Associate Artist program, my journey into alternative education and peer-to-peer learning. That I was a community taught Artist was unbeknownst to me at the time. I thought my seniors and contemporaries had knowledge I did not, after all, the far majority of them had creative degrees/backgrounds/connections.

I feel the same way about the minimum assumed understanding of a subject.

Sometimes we have to assume a certain base, especially in regard to structural concepts e.g. colour, form, grammar.

But when we ask questions we should be clear of their context.

In my context, of course, why would I not do the necessary background information before entering a space. What key information regarding structure and process, experiences and expectations, this is done through commonly available research methods (the internet) and informal conversations with those in the know.

So when the session progressed, it became clear there was a gap in understanding, the question referred to researching the theories, practices and polices of the institution we are in. Perhaps this was obvious, and perhaps this is an interested reflection in a comment I made to a colleague earlier “I don’t think we can or should spoon feed students, the effort required to bridge a knowledge gap is what makes it stick in the mind”. I would add that like the formation of muscle memory and the thickening of neural pathways, practice makes better.

As for the answer to the question, before the session I said YES, after the session, my response is 3. When forced to choose between A & B, always pick 3.

(For added clarity, the point is to be open and opaque, forcing the reader to find their own solution. This may be about making your own solution, reframing the situation, using different language, consider unknown unknowns…etc. Finally, whenever you can, do both, look inside, outside, top, underneath, light, shadow and then bring in a fresh pair of eyes)

Post literature finding task

Pedagogy 101 (ish)

The task was nice and straightforward, open and as challenging as you wanted it to be.

Like any good assignments, you get out what you put in. Luck also comes into play.

I came across Idées vagues/images claires: Image, Pedagogy, and Politics in the Films of Jean-Luc Godard, 1966–1969 

As a huge lover of the French New Wave, Godard was a Breathless source of inspiration.

That this was the second time (the first, a year prior, by curator and director of Open School East) that I had been re-directed towards Godard influential works became less of a sign, more akin to a cameraman chasing me down the street, shooting me while being shot.

…if you get the reference.

And so reflecting on images, applying critical thought to images with respect to broadcast media, is central to my aims.

It is very of the moment.

We are now surrounded by even more images than ever before.

Visual literacy is vital.

Written with hope and a longing for community

zziisshh, behind the ii’s

Post Graduate Academic Re-entry

Having completed a Bachelors of Science reading Economics and Mathematics, my opinion towards Higher Education could be summed up as “I’m paying 9k for a piece of paper”

I couldn’t be more wrong.

Aware of my position in the school to debt pipeline, I was unaware how much these experiences would shape my thinking and decision making, leading to this very moment.

The opportunity for an iconoclastic gesture is already present in the thought.

It’s sticky, and operates as both Image and Icon.

The next (il)logical step was to destroy it, placing the ashes in an appropriate vessel.

A hip-flask-cum-urn.

Urn, 2017. Engraved pewter hip flash
from University gift shop
containing degree ashes.

Somewhere in this gesture is a pillar of my pedagogy.

zziisshh, behind the ii’s.