Letters of care, a redesign of our OER20 workshop

Building stories of care against a discourse of resilience [O-019]

Sharing letters of care against the backdrop of a pandemic [O-019]

Update post conference – 3rd April 2020

The recording of our ’round the camp fire’ discussion on care, wellbeing and resilience:

The slide deck of letters

Kate Molloy (@hey_km) and myself were supposed to be facilitating a LEGO Serious Play workshop in London at the OER20 conference for up to twenty participants. Now we’re not. Instead we will be facilitating a paper-based workshop online for any number of participants.

Yet, the ‘how’ isn’t really our problem. Our problem is that the world for which we designed the workshop is no longer. Before, we were going to get underneath the discourses within institutions; with both staff and students asked to engage with and appreciate an endless flow of wellbeing initiatives. These range from yoga sessions to petting animals on campus. Whilst these activities can be wonderful and relaxing, the tension remains that institutions have put upon us that it is us who need to be more resilient. This shifts the problem from the source onto us. Students numbers ever increase yet staff numbers decrease, funding decreases yet the workload increases, in a meritocracy we all need to jump higher. This was an important conversation to have. The blog post: Critiquing Discourses of Resilience in Education Fruits of the Pedagogic Life was the seed for this workshop.

That was then. Then was a different planet.

The need for care for staff and students has increased a hundred-fold, a thousand-fold. Taking an entire university online in a matter of weeks, if not days is something not one of us would ever have envisaged in our wildest imagination. Yet, that is what we did. Only a couple of weeks in we are all exhausted, worried and overloaded with non-stop communication.

This conversation is now going to be focused on how we are going to manage to care for ourselves and care for our students over the coming months. How do we manage this in the open? How do we navigate the surveillance aspects of many edtech tools? What are the new discourses of resilience going to be? Signs indicate that may include; mandating face-to-face timetables remain in place in the online version, maintaining previous assessment approaches, asking those without access to IT infrastructure to take leaves of absence and many more. Kate’s Manifesto for Inclusive Online Teaching would be a great place to start your thinking.

It has been difficult to redesign this workshop, people are under immense stress and we want it to be as widely accessible as possible. So after a few ideas, the children’s author Oliver Jeffers provided inspiration for the final activity. We are asking you all to write a mini protest letter of care to Covid19 (go on, give it some agency) – do it offline or online, crayons, pens, pencil, digital, typing – any way you want. If you would like to share widely please ** post on the shared Google Slides ** or share with the #OER20 Twitter tag. On Thursday 2nd April come along to the session at 12.15-13.15 BST (Live session link) where it would be absolutely lovely to have some of you read out loud your letters from all around the world. Write from the perspective of your choice – teacher, student, family member, friend … Watch the video below of the narrated version of the Day the Crayons Quit (there are more stories on Oliver’s website, these have been invaluable in this house).

Now more than ever: 

“teachers must be actively committed to a process of self-actualization that promotes their own well-being if they are to teach in a manner that empowers students.”​

Teaching to Transgress, bell hooks, page 15

We look forward to your letters and seeing you at the conference. Stay safe.

Clare and Kate

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Proudly powered by WordPress | Theme: Baskerville 2 by Anders Noren.

Up ↑