Level Ones Final pieces...
With my placement coming up to its end it only seems right to show some of the students work. Above is the level 1's final pieces using mixed media. Their work will eventually be exhibited in the Telford College Final show - a showcase event of all the creative studies work (post to come).
Something new to me
The biggest communication problem is we do not listen to understand, we listen to reply.
I don’t know who said this quote but nothing else has summarised my experience more greatly. Throughout this entire module I have had to vastly improve on my personal communication skills under different circumstances.
I have undertaken projects and placements that have changed the way I have thought about design but also changed my career plan. Before these modules I wanted to teach in an FE environment and within the last five months I have had that opportunity. I also had the opportunity to work on live briefs provided through the university but also working on some paid freelance work. Each presented with its own challenges which are all solved with good communication.
Good communication came in many forms.
Verbal Communication –
Verbal communication takes place over the phone or in person. The channel of the Message is oral. Which most of the time, did the trick being able to explain what I needed. But different scenarios called for different ways of verbal communication and different language. Take for example a small group of level one BTEC students, they don’t understand technical language but also don’t want to be spoken to like children. Within days of me working within the college I had learnt that the teachers usually speak to them like children. I tried speaking to them in a simple clear manor, explaining things a step by step which resulted in a more positive relationship and better responses from the students themselves and the other members of staff.
Storytelling is a form of verbal communication; it can help to build common points for individuals. Stories can help to clear key values. And when working as part of a team to help create a brand for a research project run by young researcher’s, storytelling of previous projects and experiences allowed us to find common ground with the young researchers which allowed them to share their experiences with us helping us to build a positive relationship with the clients.
Crucial Conversations -
High-stakes communications require more planning, reflection, and a level of skill than normal day-to-day interactions. For example, presenting a design pitch to an important client. There can also be times in our professional lives when we have crucial conversations—discussions where not only are the stakes high but where opinions differ and emotions are strong. This type of conversation has happened more than once during the last five months. Client pitching being the most crucial. I have had to pitch hours of hard work for clients to openly scrutinise. I believe I have got better with practise but at first I found it extremely hard not to take it personally. Not letting others opinions take over your emotions is a form of communication itself.
Written Communication -
As a contrast to verbal communications, written business communications are printed messages. Examples of written communications include memos, proposals, e-mails and letters. They can be printed on paper, handwritten, or appear on screen. These can be written over a longer period of time which allows us to think more about what we are saying. But this also means it can be read at any time. Which means you might not always get the response as fast as you would like. The group work project from February has mostly been all over email. Its difficult. It’s much harder to explain everything. It’s even harder to explain design stories and links. It also seems to take longer, refining my practice of patience. Emails can take days to achieve a response which sometimes results in work grinding to a holt, a couple of time this has happened and unfortunately I have yet to find a better solution than resending emails, this is still something I’m working on.
Nonverbal Communication –
It’s not always what you say that matters. It’s what you do.What you say is a vital part of a communication. But what you don’t say can be more important. Research suggested that 55% of in-person communication comes from nonverbal cues like facial expressions, body language, and the tone of your voice. Different groups of people respond tone of voice in different way. Take for example the college students and the young researchers – both are the same age ranges but react very differently. One thrives for a gentle and caring approach and the other seems to respect an authoritative tone. For many students, I found that when communicating with them as a “friend” they were much more honest but were prone to distraction. Whereas, when spoken to in a more professional tone they worked and responded better. Figuring out which tone to use and when was half the challenge, but I seem to have got it down to fine art with this bunch now, but I can see that as a teacher it must be hard as every year the dynamic of the group changes.Body Language -A rule of simplicity, directness, and warmth can be effective communication. There is a lot to be said for a firm handshake, it is a great way to establish trust between us and a client. A limp, sweaty handshake shows a weakness or nervousness. Chewing lips conveys uncertainty whereas a direct smile conveys confidence. Eye contact is so important. In the US, making eye contact (for about a second) is considered a sign of trustworthiness. Facial Expressions correspond with eye contact. Our faces are capable of producing thousands of different expressions. Each of these expresses an emotion. Emotions and feelings can impact decisions greatly. Posture, touch and personal space can also impact decisions and the way others perceive us. It is important to put our best selves forward to a client, be the best you, you can. That can build trust and trust can mean a brilliant working relationship. In all situations of client and placement work this year I have found that trust is a key element to design and the more trust you have the more creative freedom they give you. Which in turn makes for better design work.
From working on both projects and placements I have changed the way I think about design which has also resulted in a change for my career plan. Before these projects and placements my plan was to do a PGCE and to teach in an FE environment and having these opportunities has taught me so many invaluable skills that have proven to me that I can do this, I can be a designer. I also had the opportunity to freelance which has taught me equal lessons in communication. Each scenario needed different forms of communication.
Communication – the human connection – It is the key to personal and career success –Paul J. Meyer.
With only one week left it seems apt to review my placement experience.
On March 5th I started my university placement teaching Graphic Design at Telford College. Before starting the placement I was convinced that I wanted to teach in further education (16+).
Within a week I had changed my mind.
Before starting I had no idea what the result of the compulsory education until students are 18 had done to the education system. When I was in college people were allowed to leave at 16 if they wanted to or didn't have the grades to go to college. This has all changed...
Colleges have now had to adapt to large numbers of students who don't want to be there.
Level 1 BTEC courses have started for students with 0-2 GCSE's but the same problem exists, they don't want to be there. They argue every point you make, they don't want to learn. This has taught me a great deal of patience and resilience.
Level 2 BTEC course are better. At least they listen and some of them actually want to be there, some of them want to do well. I know we aren't meant to pick favourites but everyone does and my top three are in the level two. I enjoy teaching this group, I look forward to it and I seem to have had a significant input in a few of there final pieces with them taking a keen interest in Graphic Design. This is the bit of teaching that people must enjoy - when students respect and listen to you and produce amazing work because of this.
Level 3 BTEC year one is a different dynamic altogether. Lots of them don't want to be there and use this as a stop gap until they turn 18. As a majority, not many want to go on to the second year but have the talent and the intellect to thrive in a more academic environment but don't want to put in the effort.
Level 3 BTECT year two are a very talented bunch of kids. They want to be there.Some of them are going to uni to continue art and design courses and as a bunch they are strong, independent people. The majority of them do not under any circumstances want my help. Even if its learning Indesign or illustrator. They just want to be left alone to get on with it.
Level 4 FOUNDATION DIP bless. There is only three of them but they are the nicest people you will ever meet. extremely talented and love advice. all three soak it up like sponges which as a "teacher" is a lovely feeling. They want to listen they want you to show them new skills which pushed me to get better and better. Not only were they learning off me but i was learning off them.
As as whole, No i don't want to be a teacher anymore. It's not plan A. But it wasn't just this experience that changed my mind. While on placement I had a taste of freelance design work and I loved it. The combination of the two means that design will always come first. And if I do end up teaching I think it will be more focused on degree level.
What a project...
Back in January I was asked by a local writing group to produce a magazine containing poetry, short stories and a feature length story. It was an interesting project but it taught me a lot about free lance design.
NEVER DO WORK FOR FREE -
In theory this was fine... I wanted a portfolio piece. This was meant to be a little magazine, two month project.
About a month in it was becoming bigger and longer than anyone had thought. Because I was doing this for free it was becoming harder and harder to be a listener.
LESSON LEARNT -
If you are going to do free work, stick to a contract.
ALWAYS HAVE A CONTRACT -
This was the most important advice I needed and didn't have.
On several occasions I felt backed into corner. I wanted to quit the project but knew that was unprofessional. I kept going but problems kept happening.
Even though I never agreed to hand over the work files they insisted they had them so next time they can pay another designer.
LESSON LEARNT -
Don't feel lost, there are people who will help you.
ALLOW THREE WEEKS BEFORE WORK IS DUE -
Never leave finished work to a week before it is due at the printers, I did and at the end of the project I had to ask for an extension as the changes the client asked for would take well over a week. This links back to lesson two. Tell them how many changes you are prepared to make and set in stone the final dates for changes, even the little ones.
The Fun Move brief was amazing. Group project - which usually end in disaster but this was different. We had a "dream team", four of us were close friends anyway and knew we could work well together.
This was my first opportunity of a complete Branding. We were asked to create a branding catalogue which is something I had never done before. Grabbed the opportunity with both hands as I know that branding can be an essential part of graphic design.
After the branding catalogue I quickly took the role of art-worker, collecting elements of work and grouping them ready for print. I then had experience working with most of the documents for this project. I have really really enjoyed this project. I also learnt that I like the art-working role.
Typography Brief in second year was GREAT. The brief was totally open and we could do what ever we wanted. So me being the crazy person decided to hand quill 3 A1 boards and quill the background. I love paper craft and wouldn't miss the opportunity to go completely over board. All my friends said I was being too extra and wasting time and to be honest I started to believe them. Post deadline when grades came out it all became totally worth it. 92%. Thats the highest I have ever gotten. In anything.
They are also up for sale so contact me if your interested.