Starting a new course – ways of getting stuck in and finding your feet.
As a tutor within Further and Higher Education for the past 7 years, I am familiar with the logistics of starting a new course, seeing it all happen behind the scenes from the tutor’s perspective. This year however, alongside teaching at the OCA, I am starting a new course of my own – an MA in Textile Design. This time, I am going to be a student, returning to education and embarking on a new adventure. In this #WeAreOCA blog post, I want to share some of my tips for starting a new course and methods I have found useful to getting stuck in with a course content.
Starting anything new can feel daunting, especially when it interrupts existing routines or forces you to make other changes to your life. My first piece of advice would be to establish what your new routine is going to be. This might mean allocating a particular point in the day where you will check your emails or do course-related reading. It might simply mean thinking about specific places in your home or times of day that are going to be conducive for working, having somewhere you won’t be distracted and are able to focus. Comedian John Cleese spoke very well about this in relation to creativity, and the tools we often need to help us to be creative. Whilst the video link below does reference creativity in management, the points he makes are extremely valid for any creative discipline.
The next best thing to get stuck into is any course related reading. Whilst your first instinct might be that you want to start making physical work and getting started with the practical tasks, it is a really good idea to frame what you are being asked to do within the course reading material. Highlighting, underlining and using post-it notes are all methods that I have found to be helpful when getting my head around new projects. I have sometimes found it helpful to ask myself questions, to start to open up the ways in which I might interpret a project brief. Equally, having a look at any suggested course reading material, including blog posts and forums are a good way to get to know the course, the institution and others who are embarking on the same journey. Remember, with any reading list, you may dip in and out of different books, depending on your schedule and how much time you have. Try not to beat yourself up if you can’t get into a certain book; instead, perhaps try to carry a different book around with you for reading on the bus, or when you are waiting for an appointment or about to go to bed. Sometimes it is just about finding those small points in your day when you can pick up a book and have a quick read over something that takes your fancy.