The 2014 AMA awardees

AMA live Q&A: your questions answered

10.02.2015
Expert panel including Charlotte Holmes, Maggie Appleton and Pollie Shorthouse
The MA is offering £50 off registration for the Associateship of the Museums Association (AMA) throughout February.

Charlotte Holmes, the Museums Association’s (MA), museum development officer, will be online from 1pm to 2pm on Tuesday 10 February to answer any questions you might have about the AMA.

Holmes will be joined by mentor and former AMA Maggie Appleton, and recently-awarded AMA Pollie Shorthouse to give you a full picture of the MA’s professional development programme, why you should consider it, what it involves, and what you would get out of it.

The panel:


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From left to right: Charlotte Holmes, museum development officer, Museums Association; Maggie Appleton, chief executive, Royal Air Force Museum; Pollie Shorthouse, executive director, National Centre for Citizenship and the Law.

Post any questions you have for Charlotte, Maggie and Pollie below, and join us on Tuesday 10 February at 1pm for the AMA live Q&A.

During the Q&A you should refresh the page to see new questions and answers.



Comments

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Patrick Steel
MA Member
Website Editor, Museums Association
10.02.2015, 14:02
So it's time to wrap up now. Thank you all for your questions, and a huge thank you to our panel, Maggie, Pollie and Charlotte. Wishing everyone undertaking the AMA all the best with their career development!
Sarah Kirkham
MA Member
Cataloguing Assistant, Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Museum
10.02.2015, 14:05
Some interesting questions posted and extremely useful. Thank you all! And (more importantly) good luck!
Nicholas Sturgess
MA Member
Alex Henshaw Curator, RAF Museum Cosford
10.02.2015, 13:36
I think the AMA has been the best thing I've done since my masters.

As I'm now on final review I'd like to ask if there is any advice you can give, beyond the guidance notes, for candidates about to undertake this.
Maggie Appleton
MA Member
CEO, Royal Air Force Museum
10.02.2015, 14:00
Hi Nick! Prepare thoroughly by discussing your professional review with your mentor and looking back at the paperwork you've submitted over the course of your AMA. What have you learned, what inspires you and what are your views on current live issues in museums? It's a formal discussion but the assessors will be supportive and keen to hear how you feel you have developed your knowledge and thinking over the course of the programme.
Pollie Shorthouse
MA Member
Executive Director, Galleries of Justice Museum (NCCL)
10.02.2015, 13:56
On reflection of my review I found it, apart from the obvious nerves, to be enjoyable. The reviewers were friendly and I enjoyed talking to them about the sector and my experiences. I would say try to enjoy it. You've done the hard work of completing your activities, you WBP and all your paperwork. It's a chance to talk about the work you've done and the knowledge and skills you've gained.
Charlotte Holmes
MA Member
Museum Development Officer, Museums Association
10.02.2015, 13:50
A top tip someone told me was, as well as practicing with your mentoring, to practice with someone who you find a little bit more challenging. The review is designed to be transparent and friendly, but you will inevitably be a bit nervous, and when discussing issues facing the sector you may be asked questions you find challenging, so practising with someone who really challenges you outside your comfort zone can be really useful.
Martin Skelton
MA Member
Interactor, Imperial War Museum North
10.02.2015, 13:36
Good afternoon. I am currently working on developing my CPD plan. I am really interested in what kind of challenging ideas people who are undertaking AMA or have recently achieved it have gone for that they feel has really benefited their own development and progression? Thanks!
Pollie Shorthouse
MA Member
Executive Director, Galleries of Justice Museum (NCCL)
10.02.2015, 13:51
Hi Martin, I accepted an opportunity to take part in a working conference in Sicily for 2 weeks. This wasn't part a planned AMA CPD activity but the experiences and opportunities that I gained from the research trip (networking and presentation skills) helped achieve aims and objectives in my CPD plan.
Mekbib Solomon
MA Member
Collections Documentation Volunteer, Vestry House Museum
10.02.2015, 13:32
I've just signed up to the AMA a couple of weeks ago and am in the process of getting my head around the first steps in criteria 1. However, I work full time in a completely different area to museums and am doing the AMA as a means of developing as and transitioning into a future, full-time museum professional. I just wanted to get the panel's thoughts as to how one would juggle the demands of the AMA if they're currently not involved in the museums sector full time (I volunteer once a fortnight).
Charlotte Holmes
MA Member
Museum Development Officer, Museums Association
10.02.2015, 13:40
The MA really values the contribution volunteers make to the sector, and the AMA is accessible to anyone working or volunteering in museums. The minimum amount of CPD required to achieve the AMA is 35 hours a year, which is less than an hour a week. Perhaps we can have a chat about your KJ, or if your able to, come along to our getting the most out of the AMA workshop 6th March, London. www.museumsassociation.org/find-an-event/ev1124644?RECNUM=8&MONTH=3-2015
Catherine Maclean
MA Member
Special Projects Curator, An Lanntair
10.02.2015, 13:25
Good afternoon all, I have just signed up for the AMA and I just wanted to check if the Nominated Heritage Professional which signs off the Knowledge Journal remains your mentor throughout?

Charlotte Holmes
MA Member
Museum Development Officer, Museums Association
10.02.2015, 13:32
Hi Catherine, the ‘heritage professional’ only signs off the Knowledge Journal (KJ), your mentor will support and challenge you to develop your CPD plans. Please note the heritage professional doesn’t have to approve your KJ, rather we want them to act as a critical friend, giving you a useful steer and feedback when describing your knowledge under each area. Your knowledge (as set out in the KJ) will be assessed off at the end of your AMA in the Professional Review
Anonymous
MA Member
10.02.2015, 13:21
Hello, what do you suggest we think about when choosing a mentor, and how did the panel choose theirs? Is it best to choose someone who has the skills that you want to devlop yourself? Thanks!
Helen McConnell Simpson
MA Member
Collections Officer (Public History), M Shed
10.02.2015, 13:29
I found it really important that I got on well with my mentor, so that we could have frank discussions, but also that he challenged me to be braver and think outside my original parameters. I would suggest thinking about the areas you want to improve (confidence, breadth of experience, etc) and consider whether potential mentors could offer you support to develop in these areas.
Maggie Appleton
MA Member
CEO, Royal Air Force Museum
10.02.2015, 13:27
Choosing the right mentor is really important; they aren't there to tell you what to do but to listen to and support your thinking - as well as possibly nudging you to keep on track from time to time (if that's helpful to you!). Having a mentor who shares your interests and area of work can be very useful for your conversations - though I feel what's most important is that you choose someone you feel able to be honest and open with. So feel free to ask for an informal chat with a potential mentor before making your decision if that helps.
Sarah Kirkham
MA Member
Cataloguing Assistant, Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Museum
10.02.2015, 13:35
Hi Maggie,
Is there a limit to how many informal chats you can have with potential mentors? For instance, can I have conversations with several before I make a decision?
Maggie Appleton
MA Member
CEO, Royal Air Force Museum
10.02.2015, 13:49
Hi Sarah. I don't think there's any hard and fast rule on how many people you can speak with - Charlotte will let us know if there is! Clearly in terms of your time and potential mentors' time it wouldn't be practical to go through a long list of people but I've certainly had mentees ask me if they could speak with me and that they're also going to talk to at least one other person. And you can always have an informal phone discussion to begin with if that helps.
Charlotte Holmes
MA Member
Museum Development Officer, Museums Association
10.02.2015, 13:55
Hi guys, we advise those looking for a mentor to meet (face to face or on the phone) with at least 2 potential mentors, choosing the one who they feel will best support and challenge them
Charlotte Holmes
MA Member
Museum Development Officer, Museums Association
10.02.2015, 13:25
We advise you to choose someone you don’t have an existing relationship with and who can offer you a fresh perspective, ideally from a different professional background.
Patrick Steel
MA Member
Website Editor, Museums Association
10.02.2015, 13:01
Welcome to the AMA live Q&A everyone. Please remember to refresh the page to see responses to your questions - our panel will endeavour to answer questions as quickly as possible.
Sarah Kirkham
MA Member
Cataloguing Assistant, Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Museum
10.02.2015, 13:01
Would it be possible to have case studies online from those in the process of doing their AMA as well as from those who have finished?
I think it would be useful to know how others are progressing.
Charlotte Holmes
MA Member
Museum Development Officer, Museums Association
10.02.2015, 14:00
Pollie Shorthouse
MA Member
Executive Director, Galleries of Justice Museum (NCCL)
10.02.2015, 13:19
Hi Sarah, are you part of your regional AMA Support Group? I found that helpful in meeting with colleagues in my region and talking to them about their progress (and a very helpful motivational tool to keep on track at times!).
Patrick Steel
MA Member
Website Editor, Museums Association
10.02.2015, 13:21
Sarah, you can find details of AMA support groups here: http://museumsassociation.org/professional-development/ama-support-groups
Patrick Steel
MA Member
Website Editor, Museums Association
10.02.2015, 13:12
Hi Sarah - thank you for your comment. Yes, I think this is something we should look at for the case studies section on the website: http://museumsassociation.org/professional-development/ama-case-studies
Anonymous
MA Member
10.02.2015, 12:58
What is the difference between the activities on the Knowledge Journal and the CPD log - is it ok that there will be some crossover between them? Similarly with the CPD plan - are the devlopment activities you put on there the ones which you will eventually add to your CPD log, and your Knowledge Journal? Thank-you.
Charlotte Holmes
MA Member
Museum Development Officer, Museums Association
10.02.2015, 13:13
Activities in the CPD log should reflect the goals and aspirations set out in your CPD plan. The KJ is separate and reflects the knowledge you have to develop in order to meet criterion 1. There is no problem recording your learning relating to your KJ in the log, if it has been more generally useful for your development.
Brendan Carr
MA Member
Community Engagement Curator, Reading Museum Service
10.02.2015, 12:58
I am just about to embark upon the AMA and wondered if you would have any top tips to offer, to make the most of the scheme. Looking back is there anything that you would have done differently?
Maggie Appleton
MA Member
CEO, Royal Air Force Museum
10.02.2015, 13:13
Hi Brendan - I hope you'll find the AMA as useful as I did. I think I made the mistake that many colleagues do in always putting off focusing on my own learning and development because of organisational priorities. That was some time ago and the introduction of the work based project has helped align personal and work learning but do continue to focus on your CPD, logging it and reflecting on your own progression. The time you put aside to think about where you are and where you want to be is so valuable - and hopefully will mean that you plan rather than drift into your future. Good luck!
Pollie Shorthouse
MA Member
Executive Director, Galleries of Justice Museum (NCCL)
10.02.2015, 13:12
Hi Brendan,

The AMA is a great way to gain knowledge across all aspects of museums - wider than your work. But I found it helpful to focus my career aspirations. In all honesty, I had to make time to complete the paperwork, especially my CPD log and creating the CPD plans. I was very fortunate with my mentor who helped question my objectives - and together we made them realistic and measurable. Top tips: find an excellent mentor and focus your CPD on what you enjoy and what you want to focus on in your career.
Anonymous
MA Member
10.02.2015, 12:57
What happened to the Trevor Walden fund? Any plans on re-instating it?
Charlotte Holmes
MA Member
Museum Development Officer, Museums Association
10.02.2015, 13:10
Trevor Walden is currently suspended, and is been looked at along with other MA trusts and bursaries, we should have more information in April.
Patrick Steel
MA Member
Website Editor, Museums Association
10.02.2015, 12:53
And one for the panel: what made you decide to do the AMA yourself, and what, if anything, did you get out of it?
Maggie Appleton
MA Member
CEO, Royal Air Force Museum
10.02.2015, 13:21
I was fortunate to have a great manager with whom I was always able to discuss my development and it was one of those conversations that helped make my decision to embark on the AMA. The discipline of taking the time to think about my learning and development and about my future was invaluable. It spurred my to decide which networks to engage with, and to make time to see inspiring developments and to speak with people I could learn from. It's something that's stayed with me and that I encourage the teams I work with to remember.
Pollie Shorthouse
MA Member
Executive Director, Galleries of Justice Museum (NCCL)
10.02.2015, 13:16
Hi Patrick, I chose to do the AMA because I wanted to extend my knowledge of museums, having come from a teaching background. In doing the AMA I gained clarity on my career aspirations in addition to knowledge and understanding of museums and meeting colleagues in the region and beyond. A very worthwhile experience which I would highly recommend.
Patrick Steel
MA Member
Website Editor, Museums Association
10.02.2015, 12:52
As some people reading this might be new to the whole AMA process, Charlotte, please could you give us a very short overview of what it is about?
Charlotte Holmes
MA Member
Museum Development Officer, Museums Association
10.02.2015, 13:07
The AMA is our a professional development award, that is designed to help people working in or for museums, identify and move towards their career aspirations, whilst developing the key competences that the sector and individual museum needs. It takes between 2 – 3 years to complete, and is self-directed. We have about 500 participants doing the scheme, and they are supported by 250 mentors
Anonymous
MA Member
10.02.2015, 12:43
How do you determine what is a 'basic' and what is a 'good' example to put in the related sections in the Knowledge Journal? It seems that 'basic' is general knowledge and 'good' is directly tailored to the job you are in now, but it would be a shame to confine some of the really valuable experience I've had (even though it was in the past) to only the 'basic' section.

Thanks!
Charlotte Holmes
MA Member
Museum Development Officer, Museums Association
10.02.2015, 13:03
In the KJ ‘basic’ is usually more theoretical whilst ‘good’ is applied to either your practice, that of your organisation and or current thinking. Prior learning definitely counts, however be mindful, that some areas ask for you to relate your experience to current thinking so will need to be up to date.
10.02.2015, 12:36
Does time spent on your work based project count towards your CPD hours? And do you include work based project activities on your CPD log?
Charlotte Holmes
MA Member
Museum Development Officer, Museums Association
10.02.2015, 13:03
Work based learning definitely counts towards your AMA, you should be able to complete the WBP as part of your job and normal amount of CPD.
Shona Connechen
MA Member
Loan Co-Ordinator, Southbank Centre
10.02.2015, 12:34
Hi there. I am due to go to professional review in May and am a little concerned about my WBP - this evolved and changed quite a bit from my original proposal during the course of the 6 months. Is this an issue? It's also quite tricky to write up as the project grew substantially and has become something that I will be continuing to work on outside of the 6 month parameter. Is it acceptable to mention this in the write up and presentation?

Charlotte Holmes
MA Member
Museum Development Officer, Museums Association
10.02.2015, 13:02
Hi Shona, we appreciate that projects develop and grow, the reviewers will be looking for you to reflect on what you have learnt and how you have solved problems as well as how you managed to project and its impact. We appreciate that the projects continue after the 6 month deadline and this could inform a discussion on impacts.
Anonymous
MA Member
10.02.2015, 12:32
I was awarded my AMA 2 weeks ago and I am happy to answer any questions about my personal experience, including the professional review.
Patrick Steel
MA Member
Website Editor, Museums Association
10.02.2015, 13:17
Anonymous, what would you say were the highest and lowest points of doing your AMA? And was there anything particular in your experience you would encourage others to consider?
Sarah Kirkham
MA Member
Cataloguing Assistant, Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Museum
10.02.2015, 12:07
With regards to the CPD plan, do I need to wait until my future mentor has read through and commented on my Knowledge Journal before I start making note of potential CPD activities?

Also, when can I start actioning activities mentioned in my Journal?
Charlotte Holmes
MA Member
Museum Development Officer, Museums Association
10.02.2015, 13:01
Hi Sarah, the plan should reflect your long term career aspirations, and should be drafted with a mentor, please let me know if you need any help finding a mentor. The Knowledge Journal (KJ) should be kept up to date in parallel, as it represents criterion 1 of the AMA and will be assessed at the end of your AMA in the professional review. You can start doing the activities in your KJ as soon as it has been signed of and submitted to us, however I would encourage you to prioritise finding a mentor and putting together your CPD plan as you have 2 or 3 years to get your KJ to the required standard.
Anonymous
MA Member
10.02.2015, 11:56
.I have a question about AMA criteria 4 about having expertise in a specific area of interest. I work in a museum that specialises in one subject. Would it be enough for me to enhance my subject knowledge if I can show how it will benefit the public? Or do I need to gain expertise in more practical themes, such as expert knowledge on a specific part of the collection?
Charlotte Holmes
MA Member
Museum Development Officer, Museums Association
10.02.2015, 13:01
For criteria 4 I would ask you to think about your long term aspirations and values, if the subject specialist area of your museum is an area you want to develop in then great, use this. However criteria 4 doesn’t have to be tied to the workplace, so this could be your opportunity to develop your skills and knowledge in another area you are passionate about, it can be and area of practice or a field of knowledge.
Helen McConnell Simpson
MA Member
Collections Officer (Public History), M Shed
10.02.2015, 11:55
I am preparing for my professional review, and writing my final CPD plan. My employment for the next few years is not fixed, and I am currently considering ideas for which direction to take. Can you offer any pointers for writing a CPD plan during a period of change?
Maggie Appleton
MA Member
CEO, Royal Air Force Museum
10.02.2015, 13:03
Always remember that the plan is there for you - to help you reflect on your future. So I would outline clearly in your plan that there are alternative paths you may take and these are the options. Practically it makes complete sense not narrow down your aspirations and I would encourage you to use the plan in that spirit.
Charlotte Holmes
MA Member
Museum Development Officer, Museums Association
10.02.2015, 13:00
Hi Helen, this is always difficult; one key thing to remember is that the plan is a statement of intention and that we appreciate things will change. If you are uncertain about where you will be working then it may be worth putting fewer work-based activities in for that period. I would also encourage you to think about how you could build in continuity, for example identifying opportunities through networks or other organisations that you can do regardless of your role. Finally this could be a good opportunity to refresh your goals, so that they reflect your career values rather than specific opportunities linked to your place of work; in this way you could use the plan to explore some of the options you’re currently weighing up.
Anonymous
MA Member
10.02.2015, 11:38
I am almost at my mid-point review. I understand that when I submit my revised CPD plan it has to be for 2 years in the future, even though I have only one year left of my AMA. How many new activities do I need to add to take my plan into the next 2 years? Will one new activity for each of my CPD goals suffice? And can I amend the dates of activities already in my plan for completion in two years? Thanks.
Charlotte Holmes
MA Member
Museum Development Officer, Museums Association
10.02.2015, 12:59
When revising your plans the level of change will really depend on you and your situation. Before looking at the activities, work with your mentor to reflect on your goals… are the still valid? Do they need amending? Having carried out 1 year of development you may feel that the plan needs to change quite radically. Once you’ve looked at your goals and needs, the final thing is to set new activities, please remove all activities you have done, give any activities that you still want to do new deadlines, and set some new activities.
Sarah Kirkham
MA Member
Cataloguing Assistant, Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Museum
10.02.2015, 09:08
I am almost at the point of submitting my Knowledge Journal and am a little concerned about the process of finding a mentor. A friend of mine struggled with finding an available mentor from the list provided.

Will this list be updated to reflect who is available and who is not?
Pollie Shorthouse
MA Member
Executive Director, Galleries of Justice Museum (NCCL)
10.02.2015, 13:28
Hi Sarah, during my AMA I've had 2 mentors. When I first completed my Knowledge Journal I found a mentor but circumstances changed for us both and we mutually ended the arrangement. I took the opportunity to find a new mentor outside my region, which worked really well for me. I would second Charlotte's advice about choosing a mentor you have a rapport with and if it works for you, look outside your region.
Charlotte Holmes
MA Member
Museum Development Officer, Museums Association
10.02.2015, 12:58
Hi Sarah, When looking for a mentor, we ask that you approach a couple of people on our list, and choose the mentor who you have the best rapport with and who offers a fresh perspective. If you’re finding it difficult please let us know, as we can help with the process. We always ask mentors to lets us know their availability, and if their details change, however sometimes people fall between the cracks, so participants feedback is really useful.
Patrick Steel
MA Member
Website Editor, Museums Association
10.02.2015, 13:06
If you need to contact the MA you can find details for MA staff here: http://museumsassociation.org/about/contact