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PedagooRefreshed
January 21, 2014
2
Splash by flickr.com/photos/dragon762wSplash by flickr.com/photos/dragon762w

It’s been needed for some time, but now it’s done. Pedagoo.org has a new theme! It’s quite a radical change, but I hope you like it. I’ve attempted to modernise and simplify the site and focus more clearly on our core aim of sharing our classroom practice. To write a new post now just login and then click on the ‘Blog’ tile under your name above. If you spot any problems please don’t hesitate to let me know.

We’ve also taken the opportunity to update the way that Pedagoo is led too. We’ve called time on the old ‘Admin’ team and replaced this with a team of ‘Curators’ instead. We’ve more clearly focused the role on encouraging teachers to share their practice and shared the remit here. Lots of the previous admins have taken this opportunity to take a step back, and I thank them massively on behalf of the community for all the work they’ve put in over the years. This does mean though that we are looking for new Curators to join the team…if you think you’d like to join us then fill in the form on this page.

Finally, a massive thanks must go to Paul Wheatley. Paul has been hosting Pedagoo for us for free since we began and continues to do so out of the goodness of his heart…thanks Paul!

PedagooRefresh
January 17, 2014
4
Pedagoo Logo 600x540

It’s time we updated our theme on Pedagoo.org! I’m going to try and do this over the course of this weekend, so there may (will) be some major disruption on this site. Please bear with me…hopefully I’ll have it all back up and running smoothly next week.

Here goes…

Pedagoo needs you – Yes, You!
November 21, 2013
0

Pedagoo needs you! Yes, You classroom teacher!

We would like to invite all our followers to write a post for the Pedagoo website, to share your day-to-day classroom practice. We firmly believe that Pedagoo is a grassroots teaching movement, run by teachers for teachers. We can improve our own practice by learning from the wisdom and mistakes of others, and one way we can do this is by sharing.

Many teachers might feel they don’t have anything special to contribute, or that their practice isn’t interesting or special enough, but it is. We are over whelmed by the wealth of Pedagoo Friday tweets each week, and would love to see more of them explained a bit more fully as a blog post.

You might not have written about your teaching practice before, but the Pedagoo community is a welcoming and nurturing one, where we welcome submissions from any classroom practitioner focused on pedagogy, curriculum and assessment. Take the plunge- it is truly rewarding to see your ideas having impact beyond the four walls of your classroom, and receiving feedback from teachers all over the country.

Maybe start with a post that is a walk-through of a successful lesson, or anything else from your teaching practice that you feel is appropriate. It can be any length, and include images if you have them.

You can submit a post by creating an account on the Pedagoo website, and submitting your post for review, or if that sounds daunting just contact us by DM and one of our admin team can help you with the tech side.

Please think about writing for us. It’s a brilliant boost to receive feedback in a profession that often feels beleaguered and you will be helping other teachers at the same time. We don’t always have time to ask teachers individually, so this is an open invitation to you, yes you.

We look forward to reading about all the brilliant things that go on in your classroom, and sharing them with the wider teaching community.

PedagooBook? – A Consultation
March 14, 2013
11

Things continue to progress with Pedagoo. We’re coming up to two years since we first started the site and there are many exciting developments. Our readership continues to grow, as does our membership. Lots of new people are sharing their practice on the site, and many more are now tweeting every #PedagooFriday. And our list of exciting new TeachMeet events continues to grow. It’s fantastic and phenomenally overwhelming. I’m just pleased that we seem to have created something which people find useful.

Those of us on the admin team are constantly trying to think of new ways to try and make Pedagoo even more useful to practicing teachers. For example, Neil is currently working on a new termly magazine which will have enhanced posts and tweets and be available as a PDF or in iTunesU. I think this will be a great way for us to be able grow our community beyond those of us who are on twitter.

Another exciting possible development, and my reason for writing, is the creation of a Pedagoo Book. Kenny has been in discussions with Bright Red Publishing who are interested in the possibility of a book filled with Pedagoo style sharing and learning. Again, we think this would be a great opportunity for those of you who wanted to be involved to share your practice further, and another great way of reaching out beyond twitter to grow our community.

In order for the book to happen though, Bright Red need something they can sign a contract with. Despite appearances, up until now Pedagoo has consisted of a group of enthusiastic teachers, a domain name and some generously provided webhosting. Nothing more than that. Having taken advice on the best way forward, we’re proposing setting up a small Social Enterprise (or to give it its proper name, a company limited by guarantee) in order to allow us to take forward the book idea. There would be no shareholders in this form of organisation and any income would only be able to be used to support the activities of Pedagoo. As Pedagoo began life in Scotland, we would restrict this Social Enterprise to Scotland to begin with at least.

We’re very aware that Pedagoo is a community and its strength lies with you. We don’t want this to affect what makes Pedagoo work for you, and will strive to ensure this is the case. We also want to make sure that everyone has had an opportunity to feedback on this idea. Although those of us on the admin team obviously like the idea, so far nothing has been agreed, this is a genuine consultation.

We welcome your thoughts as comments below…

Pedagoo… to Infinity and Beyond!
January 25, 2013
0

FIND THE ORIGINS OF PEDAGOO HERE

Above is just a tiny selection of tweets from teachers wanting to share great ideas from their week in the classroom. By teachers, for teachers, Pedagoo rocks! Pedagoo is the reason why I drove north (who knew there was anything further north than Newcastle) for five hours on a Saturday to join in with the very first Pedagoo Fringe event in Glasgow – I know it does not usually take that long…I got lost. It was more than worth the time and the weekend!

There’s nothing quite like the feeling of being surrounded by like minded educators, all as thirsty as you are for new and exciting ideas to enhance their practice. It is this very enthusiasm, passion and excitement about the possibilities within our profession that make Pedagoo’s heart beat. We want more and more people to catch the Pedagoo fun bug so that each event brings together even more great educators and great ideas.

Whether it be collaboration through following and contributing to #PedagooFriday with your weekly classroom ideas, contributing to the blog at Pedagoo.org (new bloggers always welcome), joining in with #PedagooResolutions and contributing to the forums creating a focussed online TLC, your collaboration is wanted and will be well received.

Pedagoo originated in Scotland but its positivity is now reaching far and wide. I did offer to personally visit sunny Australia and spread the word there but it turns out that, thanks to our wonderful digital world…they have already received the message!

It does not matter if you are a student teacher, an NQT, a teacher, a member of SLT or even head of the school; perhaps you are a teacher from England, Scotland, Australia or Zimbabwe, it does not matter, Pedagoo wants you!

Cross-posted from Reflections of a Learning Geek

Headteachers, Now Is A Good Time To Consider Personal Values, Vision and Priniples
August 16, 2012
1

As we return to schools in Scotland, and colleagues in other areas of the UK will be doing so in a few weeks, I think this is an ideal time to consider and reflect on what we stand for. What are our values, vision and principles, and do these underpin our aims for the year ahead?
It seems obvious that headteachers and leaders need to have a clear understanding of their values vision and principles. This equally applies to all in schools. However, it is sometimes easy to lose sight of these as we become embroiled in the day to day events in school, and the conflicting pulls and pressures we all face on a daily basis.
It is important that the people we work with and alongside have an understanding of what it is that drives, motivates and underpins our actions as a leader. We will have articulated these in various ways and to various audiences, and our actions should demonstrate them on a day to day basis. A vital aspect of leadership is our ability to lead by example. By our actions we are giving life to our vision, values and principles. Problems occur when there is a mismatch between what we say and what we do. Its no good talking the talk if we are not going to walk the walk. Then you face a credibility gap and lack of trust.

All headteachers and leaders start in post with their vision, values and principles fresh in their minds. They will have no doubt been required to articulate these to various audiences before taking up their post. but, how often do these then become submerged or forgotten under the deluge of activities we have to deal with on a daily basis? It is my contention that we cannot, and should not, allow this to happen. We need to create time in very busy working lives to keep revisiting these and measuring everything we do against them.
They should not be set in stone but should be revisited, considered and reviewed in the light of experience, new knowledge and improved understanding.
Ask yourself, what are the values that underpin you as a headteacher and leader? When was the last time you considered them? Are you still being true to them? Does your role and performance reflect your values? Are these reflected in the school or organisation in which you work? Is there a mismatch? If there is, what are you going to do about it? These are big questions but ones which I would expect us all to be asking of ourselves and others constantly.

If we espouse values of equality, fairness, honesty and non-discrimination, is that what it feels like to others in our schoosl or establishment? Equality of opportunity for all? Fairness for all? Equality in how all are treated and valued? Is this what it feels like for staff, pupils, parents? How do you know? Where’s the evidence? Your perceptions and the reality might be something rather different.
You need to find this out and take action when necessary. To do this you need strong relationships that have engendered mutual trust within your school or organisation. Be aware that staff can be reluctant to give honest views and opinions, especially to a headteacher or leader who they think might be upset by what they have to say.
You need to take time to tell staff what they are doing well and praise them accordingly. Take a sincere interest in each of them and help them to develop as individuals and leaders. Don’t get sucked into the deficit model of school and personal development, where we constantly focus on things we are not doing or not doing well, instead of recognising all the things that we do really well, and building on these.

Our values are reflected in how we are with our pupils and what we are trying to achieve for all of them. We would never start work with children by telling them all the things they can’t do and don’t know. Instead we focus on their abilities,aptitudes and successes in previous learning and personal development. We need to use the same approach with all staff. School and organisational improvement and development can only start from where we are. Seems obvious, but often overlooked or ignored in the rush and push for change.
Values define you as a person and as an institution.

What of vision? You need a vision for the organisation you wish to lead and be associated with. You will have a personal vision for you as a leader and your professional development. The two are closely connected.
You will have a vision for your school and obviously you will play a major role in the development of this. You do not develop this in isolation, but involve all partners in its development. Some schools and organisations spend a lot of time in developing a vision statement and then move on to the next job to be done.
For this shared vision to to remain useful and meaningful we need to revisit it on a regular basis. At my own schools we engage with our vision and values at the start of every school year. This reminds us all of what we are trying to do and helps inform new staff about the ethos and culture of the schools and how important we feel this is.

Out of values and vision emerges our aims for the school. These should map out the steps everyone has agreed to take to enable delivery of the values and vision. They can be short or long term but they should reflect the journey of personal and establishment development.

After identifying you values, vision and aims these should then become the first audit tool you use in the school or organisation’s self evaluation. They can be used to evaluate practice and the culture. Is what you are doing matching up to what has been agreed? How do we know? What has improved for all our pupils as a result of these? This becomes part of the school’s on-going self-evaluation process and will be reflected throughout the school development plans and activities.
If you have developed values, vision and aims meaningfully, they help you to identify which changes and developments are appropriate, and which are not, for you and your school or organisation.
I would suggest that this then puts you in a stronger position to resist those things that need to be resisted in education. It is my belief that we have not been strong enough professionally and morally to stand up for what we believe in and know to be right. Basing what you do in your schools on sound values, vision, priciples and aims gives us a stronger position to fight the fights we need to fight, and make the cases we need to make.

‘When your values are clear to you, making decisions becomes easier.’ Roy E Disney

What shall we do next year?
June 23, 2012
3

What a year.

The domain pedagoo.org was purchased on the 21st May last year. Prior to then the word didn’t even exist, never mind the amazing community which has developed since. Whilst it has at times been daunting, the support and involvement of so many fantastic people has really been amazing. We appear to have tapped into something here which we need to continue and grow.

Firstly though, a few thank yous. Thank you to the amazing PedagooAdmin team who give up their own precious time to make Pedagooey things happen. Thank you to Kirsty’s other half Paul, who kindly hosts the site [I don't think it's quite what he expected when he agreed!]. Thank you to all the folk who aren’t teachers who have provided tremendous support, advice and PR, much of which has been behind the scenes – you know who you are! But mostly, thank you to everyone who has read and contributed to the site or interacted through our twitter and facebook pages. It’s great to know that people find it useful and use the ideas and thoughts they see in their own classrooms – that’s what it’s all about.

So, where do we go next? What should we be doing in the future? How can we build on what’s been successful about Pedagoo so far? Are there other things we should be doing? We really want to know what you think.

I tweeted the following last night…


In one year *we* have turned #pedagoo from a silly word to a powerful online community…what shall we do next year? #pedagoo2012
@pedagoo
pedagoo.org

Which led to the following replies so far…


@. Go beyond sharing good practice. Make #pedagoo a movement for social justice in education Transform Scottish schools. Be ambitious
@MarkRPriestley
Mark Priestley


@.you’ve been a huge success so well done all. #pedagoo becomes a favourite resource for Scottish educators as they deliver CfE.
@brucerobertson7
bruce robertson


@ #pedagoo #pedagoo2012 Protect integrity of #pedagoo-parity of esteem for Voices on what counts for our young people.#socialjustice
@Vonniemc
Yvonne McCracken


@ could pedagoo help us realise some of the dangerous ideas pitched at last week’s emporium? Come on, we can do it!
@barbaragray58
Barbara Gray

But what do you think?

PedagooAngels? PedagooReps? PedagooPlus?…?
June 7, 2012
9

At our first PedagooAdmin meeting in the real world last weekend we vowed to try to stop coming up with new ideas, and focus instead on increasing involvement in the many ideas we’re already working on…we then promptly (& predictably) came up with a new idea which we just have to try!

The idea stems from two sources. Firstly, on top of their PedagooAdmin remits of events & CPD, Kirsty & Martyn have been doing stirling work promoting Pedagoo in the Borders, where they both teach. They’ve been busy organising BeerMeets, contacting the Local Authority and are planning a TeachMeet. That got us to thinking, wouldn’t it be great to have teachers in every local authority doing this sort of work. Promoting Pedagoo locally and organising BeerMeets, TeachMeets and CPD sessions…

We were also thinking that there are loads of you lovely Pedagoo supporters out there who might well be up for taking on a bigger role in leading and promoting the Pedagoo community, without taking on the increasingly large commitment of being on the PedagooAdmin team. This could therefore potentially provide a perfect role for you, if this is you.

Whilst we think this is potentially a great idea…we can’t think of a name for this role. Help!

What do you think? Would you be interested in taking on such a role in your Local Authority/Institution? If so, what do you think the remit should be? And, what should you be called? Please add your ideas below…

Welcome to Pedagoo
May 21, 2012
0

A wee video welcoming our new users and answering a few questions I think you might have about the site…

Got any more questions? Ask them in a comment below…

Relationships Make the School!

“Our most important resource is our staff.” How often have you heard this? It is so true, but too often those who say it are betrayed by their actions, not their words. It is no use “talking the talk” if you are not going to “walk the walk”, as some might say.

Schools are complex organisations, because they are centred on people. People are complicated! I believe schools will succeed or fail based on the strength of the myriad of relationships that shape them and give them their identity.

 Headteachers, and teachers, need to cultivate and develop a whole raft of different relationships,  and at different levels, to ensure schools are providing the best opportunities for learning and development of pupils, and staff.

Quite a challenge!

We are all individuals. We have had different experiences,and even when the experiences may have been similar, we will often react and respond in different ways. This further complicates the interactions between us all. We understand that we are responding, positively or negatively, to new people as soon as we meet them. Body language, body shape, dress, smell, voice, attractiveness are overloading our senses and brains and getting us to make almost instantaneous decisions about people and whether we are going to get on with them. We should also realise that a lot of this stuff can also be shown to be rubbish when we really do take time to get to know someone properly. No wonder relationships are difficult.

When we are developing working relationships over time, we need take the above into consideration, as well as how people act and respond to us, for they are carrying out all the same mental and social gymnastics that we are!

Headteachers may have some say over the appointment of staff they work with, and with whom they need to develop positive relationships, and such relationships and trust can only develop over time. In truth most Heads inherit a staffing compliment already in place, and the onus is very much on the Head to develop professional and personal relationships in order to bring out the best in all staff, and thus improve outcomes for all pupils.

Headteachers and teachers have no say over the pupils and parents they will have to work with, or the host of other partners they have to engage with, to meet the needs of all the pupils in their schools.  Time has to be given to develop these relationships. We recognise that it is the people who make the school, not the buildings, policies or paperwork, important though these are. Wonderful educational experiences can be provided in the grottiest of environments and, equally some less than satisfactory ones happen in the most up to date buildings, and with all the latest resources. Its all down to the people!

I was lucky enough to visit Malawi a few years ago. We visited various schools, many had classesof over 200 and pitiful few resources. The teachers were not paid much, if at all. When we were there, staff in some of the schools we visited had not been paid for over three months! But, children wanted to learn and teachers wanted to teach. The children in primary school were learning in two languages, English and the local dialect. They were experiencing a varied curriculum, with an emphasis on literacy and numeracy. (sound familiar?) The main element that was making this work was the commitment and enthusiasm of the teachers, who were not prepared to let a few little ‘challenges’ stop them from delivering the best learning experiences they could in the circumstances. They have a saying in Malawi and Africa about how it takes a community to educate a child, and I saw this demonstrated every day by the determination of the staff in the schools and the local communities to work together to give the children the best opportunities they could. 

We in our own schools should take time to develop all the relationships we need in order to shape and improve them to better meet the needs of all learners. All partners should be respected and valued as contributors to school improvement and development.

We need to demonstrate emotional intelligence and understand the factors that can impinge on our own, and other’s, performance from day to day. We need balance in our lives. Too much lip-service is paid to work-life balance and it is crucial to all that we have a measure of equilibrium in our professional and private lives. Headteachers need to demonstrate this themselves and demand it of staff. When there is a lack of balance, and where the job becomes all consuming, we end up with narrower individuals who are setting themselves up for difficulty. Teaching and leadership is very demanding and it is my belief that you can only function at your best when there is a balance between you life outside of school and your professional life. Your career and job are obviously important aspects of your life and personal identity, but they are not the only important aspects. You neglect one area at the expense of others.

I spent almost 20 years of my working life outside of Education. In that time I witnessed and experienced a wide spectrum of working practices and managerial styles. These ranged from the excellent to some ‘you’re not going to believe this..’ experiences. One thing I did recognise early on in my working career was that organisations that are based on hierarchical power structures don’t work very effectively. They are characterised by high levels of unhappiness, absenteeism, low output and high staff turnover. This is the same in schools. I have seen that success achieved by building on the good work of others, working co-operatively and collaboratively, and in organisations where creativity and innovation are encouraged. Organisations are successful and thrive where they keep reinventing themselves and where participants are not afraid to try new things, or make mistakes. Organisations that think they are marking time are, in fact, going backwards or being left behind. I would contend that schools are no different. 

I think we really need to get better at embracing a more open culture of internal and external sharing and co-operation in our schools. This is as much about the sharing of expertise and experience in our schools as much as anything else. We need to stop working from a deficit model of school development, where the focus is on what we are not doing well and putting this right. Rather we should use what we are doing well as a vehicle for bringing about improvements elsewhere.

Staff in schools are overwhelmingly committed to their jobs and constantly trying to do the best for their pupils, so they are a very good place to start from. To get the very best from all staff we need to develop a culture of mutual trust and respect, where all are valued and included in decisions about how to move forward and improve. Where good ideas and sound research are the currency for school and individual development. where no one person is seen as having a monopoly on these and where all are concerned for their own health and well-being and that of others with whom they work. Where mistakes are seen as acceptable and expected because how else will we ever improve or move forward?

We have to see the importance and currency of relationships within our organisations. Headteachers need to see these as crucial in the development of the school and the individuals within it. Heads don’t have all the answers, and we are more likely to reach the right answers, and ask the right questions, in a spirit of collegiality and collective responsibility.

Staff in schools are well educated and committed. We need to reognise  and to tap into the collective knowledge and understanding to help improve what we do together. We need to know staff well and be aware of the things that may be going on in their lives outside of school and how this may have an impact, as it does with each of us.

One word of caution, we need to genuinely walk the walk, not just talk the talk. Tokenism is soon detected for what it is and nothing destroys relationships and morale quicker than insincerity.

As Chris Barez Brown in his book ‘Shine’ notes, spending genuine time listening to other peoples dreams and concerns will mean they are much more likely to take notice of  yours!

George Gilchrist

Books that helped with this:

‘Outliers’ by Malcolm Gladwell

‘Shine-How to Succeed and Thrive at Work-Upping Your Elvis Factor!’ By Chris Barez Brown