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  • Writer's pictureAnnie Pendrey

What's in your Professional Suitcase?

As a new semester begins, I will be spending some of my week guest lecturing and some of my week busy writing and studying. However, without doubt I will be beginning all my sessions with my professional suitcase.

I don’t use icebreakers. I simply don’t like them! I prefer to share my professional suitcase and invite my learners to begin to reflect upon what they might carry in their professional and academic suitcases. This is an ongoing reflective activity which evolves and is based on sharing as and when learners feel ready and each learner can share in a one to one or a group session, whichever they prefer.

At the start of the academic year, I spend time sharing my professional suitcase. My suitcase contains several objects that are aligned to my values and beliefs as an educator. My objects also change and each week, I add something new, and I might even take something out. This is reflection in and on action. (Schon)

So, as a new adventure begins for me this week, I have packed my professional suitcase ready to share with my new groups.

In my suitcase is:

A book. From Birth to Five Matters by Mary Sheridan. This book is a book I used when studying my NNEB and I brought with my money I earned from my part time work at the weekends whilst studying. It is part of my professional identity. I am a Nursery Nurse. I am a person who cares and nurtures. This brings me to my next object: a heart.

In my professional suitcase is a heart. This represents the professional love and nurturing I display in my capacity as a lecturer. All our learners and the children and families they encounter need us to carry a heart in our professional suitcases. We need to show others we listen, we support, we guide, and we love the job we do!

This leads beautifully to the ball of string that is in my professional suitcase. This string represents the connection I have begun to make with my new learners. However, I also share with my learners how this string can also become tangled and knotted as I work across different networks and with different people and so I must remind myself that at times I need to stop, unwind, unravel my string so that I am recharged and ready for a new week. It is here, I talk to my learners about appreciating their wellbeing whilst studying and to connect with the services available to them.

I have many more objects in my professional suitcase including my publications which I am immensely proud of and too many objects to share with you in a blog. However, let me share with you one final object, which is my lipstick!

My lipstick. My lipstick can not only be found in my professional suitcase but in most of my coat pockets, and handbags. Wearing lipstick is empowering for me and part of my identity, but I have never truly reflected upon why this is until I came to write this blog. Lipstick is a form of expression; it is a creative outlet, and I don’t mind sharing that I have been told many times by other educators that I am too creative! I even had feedback from an interview that I was too creative to teach and lead! But I am creative. I do think creatively. My lessons are creative. And I am happy to leave my lipstick and my creativity in my professional suitcase.

I hope this short blog has inspired you to reflect upon your professional suitcase. I have a wealth of resources and ideas linked to this activity and if you would like me to post these on my website then please leave a comment.

I am also considering running a webinar on this topic, so if you are interested, please contact me via my website.

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