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Teacher burnout is preventable!?

Lurking in school staff rooms and offices is a poster tacked to the wall that says, “Bang head here!”

The thought has crossed my mind. In particular, when the escalating pressures of being a teacher start to manifest into physical form; headaches, burning eyes, and knotted shoulders. But despite having super human organisational skills, like most teachers, my strength gets zapped at the end of a school term. Years of recognising the burnout signs has taught me what I need to do to look after myself. But are these time management, wellbeing strategies good enough? Do we need a greater change?

If we discovered more creative ways for the school system to maximize time would we all be in a better position to teach, so that we wouldn’t need tips on how to “hang in there” and keep fighting the good fight. What are your thoughts?

Whilst you deliberate on that point I do have some fantastic tips on avoiding teacher burnout. On episode 23 of the Inspiration 4 Teachers Podcast Show Angela Watson, former teacher and now Educational Consultant and Founder of Due Seasons Press, discusses transformational ideas to overcome burnout, big picture teacher planning and how to make teaching and learning exciting.

Now back to that question. How could we develop a school system that creates more effective use of a teacher’s time and alleviates some of the pressures (assuming that we have no additional resources at our disposal)?  Share your thought-provoking ideas in the comments box.

If you enjoyed this article please tweet the knowledge forward and share with your community!

 

The future leaders challenge
Leadership

Is leadership greatness beyond our reach? Many would have us think so! But the great leaders are everyday people willing to put themselves forward, to do the everyday, day after day, in order to make a change.

Leadership

But how many great leaders are out there, secretly loitering in the corridors or recesses of school classrooms that don’t perceive their own potential, or believe in their own ability? What are the barriers that hold people back?

At a recent women in leadership event, I discovered some startling facts about women in senior leadership roles. For a profession dominated by women, only 38% of them aspire to headship roles, and women in those roles earn significantly less than their male counterparts! Why is this, and is this why so few women become head teachers?

There are many barriers that prevent women stepping up:

  • The sandwich effect, looking after young children and / or caring for elderly parents
  • Risk associated with increasing accountability measures in schools
  • Lack of good, visible role models
  • Inflexible leadership progression routes and unclear succession planning
  • Blockades created by governors and stakeholder organisations

The list goes on, however the one barrier that sticks in my mind and it is not necessarily a gender issue but a common human flaw, is that we tend to support, encourage and champion talent that looks like us and who we can relate to! But that is not a sound basis for developing future leaders. These barriers should be challenged but in a way that generates thought-provoking discussion about cultivating leadership talent that will create schools that foster dynamic, resilient and prepared learners.

Jill Berry, a former head is one person challenging the barriers women face into leadership roles. Together on episode 22 of the Inspiration 4 Teachers Podcast Show Jill and I discuss how removing some of the leadership barriers can cultivate an environment where talent can flourish.

Episode take-aways:

  • How current leaders can create a talent environment where aspiring leaders are nurtured
  • Enriching professional development
  • Strategies for building relationships

If you enjoyed this article please pay the knowledge forward and share with your community!

Employing marginal gains theory to enhance pedagogical approaches

Searching for 1% improvements to teaching and learning!

My throat strained under the excessive screaming and my arms pumped with wild hysteria as I cheered the GB cycling team on to gold at the 2012 Olympic games, but what impressed me the most was the behind the scenes dedication and determination to achieving excellence. 

We have since discovered the secrets to the GB cycling team’s tally of gold medals. It began with a commitment to embed marginal gains theory into every aspect of the GB team’s performance. In short, marginal gains were Sir David Brailsford’s ambition to focus on the small changes in cycling performance that would lead to greater overall excellence and therefore winning.

But can the same concept apply to teaching and the pedagogical approaches we use for learning?

If you categorise every aspect of teaching and learning, you would swiftly have a list of points as long as the hippodrome cycling track! So where to begin? Developing a list of pedagogical approaches most meaningful to learning and determining how your teaching practice fares against each outcome is a daunting prospect and one difficult to quantify. I have deliberated this challenge and developed a model based on marginal gains theory. We can use this model to enhance our pedagogical approaches that lead to transformational learning.

• Evidence – The list of pedagogical approaches fundamental to learning is endless, but which of them are scientifically proven to work? Without strong evidence that these pedagogical approaches support learning to the highest possible standard, you could be trying to change and improve the wrong approaches to learning. I recently investigated which revision strategies actual work to aid learning. I quickly discovered that of the ten most used strategies only two of them actually work, so why not focus on developing, improving and refining the revision strategies scientifically proven to work? So I did and produced a short video and series of resources to help my students.

• Model effective practice – If you are looking to improve an area of your teaching, chances are you need to know what to get better at for the benefit of learning and what you are working towards. So ask yourself, does the wheel really need re-inventing? Or do you need to make slight modifications to the wheel to improve its overall performance? Look towards and connect with other teachers, not necessarily in your own school, that are demonstrating excellent teaching and learning. Share best practices and embed what works into your pedagogical approaches to learning.

• Focus – Follow One Course Until Success, but you can’t achieve that without clarity of vision; which pedagogical approach do you want to improve and therefore achieve? As teachers we do not work in a silo, we have a team to work with on a daily basis, so re-enforce the purpose of the pedagogical approach for learning with your students. If they don’t buy into the learning then the impact will be significantly less. Sir Chris Hoy understood with complete clarity his role within the GB team, to win; and those of his support staff, to help him win! On a daily basis you lead and work with a team of students, so build and foster relationships and above all clarify how you will work together to achieve their success.

• Reflect – Did it work, did it not? The latter is often a better scenario because it forces us to identify and clarify alongside our vision what went wrong, what can be improved and with frequent nudges you can make a greater shift over time. I’m ten years down the teaching line and I am still adapting, pivoting and refining. I can’t control every element, but I can try my hardest to be the best at what I am, and that is an inspirer of minds, a provocateur for learning.

• Refine to excellence – Develop your suite of scientifically proven pedagogical approaches that work. Make changes that improve and drive learning and then repeat the process.

Using John Hattie’s top 11, of 138 influences on student achievement, could provide the basis for selecting which pedagogical approach is going to have the greatest impact on overall teaching and learning. Applying each approach against my process model, should provide you with the basis of a system to achieve your own gold medal level of teaching and learning excellence. A great example of marginal gains in action is discussed on episode 21 of the Inspiration 4 Teachers Podcast Show, with Educating Essex start Headteacher Vic Goddard.

Episode take-aways:

• Strategies that lead to willing parent engagement and participation

• Employing marginal gains theory to enhance pedagogical approaches

• Allowing young people to fail in order to progress

If you enjoyed this article please pay the knowledge forward and share with your community!

TeachmeetASN
Image by @IanStuart66Image by @IanStuart66

This is my first ever post on Pedagoo!

After a career in Community Education and Social Services, I decided to return and train as a Primary Teacher, following my probation year I worked for an Education/Care resource for three years and for the past year and a half I have been working in an ASN school.

Two wonderful friends introduced me to Twitter and I began following a wide range of people tweeting about education and educational issues. I discovered #pedagoofriday. I spent many an hour smiling and sometimes laughing out loud at the many brilliant things that class teachers were tweeting about. Mostly, wishing that I could come up with similar ideas!

Earlier this year, I attended the #pedagooprimary event, it was great and I loved meeting other people. Throughout my varied career, I have always loved meeting new people and finding out what things they were doing and, in the main, trying to steal their ideas!

So I took the first step and thought I could organise my own Teachmeet! I blackmailed a few friends into presenting and in turn they roped other friends into presenting, and someone was even brought into the fold through Twitter! I even thought of my own presentation, albeit, not as fabulous as the others. A colleague and friend baked cupcakes (always a good bribe for people attending).

I just wanted to say to everyone, if you want to get involved, just do it! Even if you have five people attending, it is the sharing of ideas and contacts that can make the sometimes lonely job of a teacher so much more and can have an enormous impact on your teaching and learning. Thus benefiting the people we all do this job for- the kids!

Development of Research into Professional Practice

You choose the seat furthest away from the front so that you can talk to your friends and take the mick out of the speaker (I’ve witnessed this enough from others to know it’s not just me). You write notes to each other, whisper and attempt tasks with minimal effort to both get a laugh and avoid looking stupid. Educated professionals can be the worst students because, like the students they teach, they are often gifted and bored.

Just because we are older does not mean we are suddenly capable of learning without limits. We are human. As humans, we get frustrated and bored when faced with unproductive learning experiences. Just like that PP student from a poorly educated family sees no point in learning to write academic essays, teachers who see no immediate purpose to their professional development will find it difficult to engage.

After being subjected to three hours of CPD dedicated to underlining dates and titles (I’m not joking), I can understand very well why pupils whose prior learning is not taken into consideration, pupils who are not challenged or directly engaged through contextualised approaches and pupils who are gifted and bored may get disruptive. We study learning in the classroom to improve outcomes for students and then sit teachers in rows and expect them to respond like sponges to the research presented. This is not the case at every school in the UK. There are many wonderful examples of excellent environments for teacher learning. Unfortunately, such environments are the exception and not the norm.

This week, I visited the Houses of Parliament to celebrate the launch of research commissioned by the Teacher Development Trust. The research tells us what inspired, actively involved teachers already know. Teachers, like all learners, need time, clarity and structured outcomes; they need opportunities to collaborate as professionals in order to hone their trade; teachers need to study pedagogy and subject specific literature to inform their knowledge and practice. Learning needs to be purposeful, high quality, contextualised and continuous.

Many teachers (despite the CPD on offer in house) already make time, set themselves clear goals and develop extensive learning communities through social media and events. This happens out of a desire to improve and takes place in teachers’ own time.Would teachers need to take professional development into their own hands like this if the development on offer ‘in house’ was adequate?

The research produced with the TDT is a great step in the right direction to guide CPD leaders towards doing the right thing. However, professional development leaders (both internal and external) may need to look at teachers as the disillusioned learners they most likely are. Barriers to learning that have built up over years of poor quality CPD will need to be carefully removed if cultures and beliefs are going to change.

As a CPD leader, a learning coach or CPD provider, how can you reengage the disengaged? I am training a team of future coaches over the next six weeks. We will be unpicking this question as part of the process. I will reflect as we go but for now, here are some ideas linked to the research.

“Achieving a shared sense of purpose is an important factor for success.”

Link to the full report

Step 1: Listen, observe and get to know the context

“A didactic model in which facilitators simply tell teachers what to do, or give them materials without giving them opportunities to develop skills and inquire into their impact on pupil learning is not effective.”

One size never fits all and generic approaches rarely inspire. Getting to know your learners shows that you are investing time in them as human beings. When we make connections with other human beings, we find it easier to learn from them. This is true of students of any age. If you are delivering professional development in any form, questions first, imparting knowledge later. Nobody likes a “know it all” but when you respect, connect with and feel respected by that “know it all”, you are more likely to engage in what they have to say.

Step 2: Collaborate

“…successful facilitators encouraged and/or helped teachers take on a degree of leadership of CPDL, and, according to the strongest review, treated them as peers and co-learners. This relationship enabled successful facilitators to share values, understanding, goals and beliefs with participants, but also to challenge them successfully.”

Knowing what learning is helps. If observation of lessons is going to make a difference, you need to be able to dissect the learning that is taking place and develop a clear path towards successful outcomes for both teachers and pupils. Teachers often complain about being observed by leaders that are poor teachers, which leads them to distrust the conclusions given about the lesson observed.

Targets for improving pupil outcomes should come from knowledge of pedagogy and subject related issues rather than a list provided by an outside agency. Use subject and pedagogy knowledge to question lesson observations against teachers’ intended outcomes; work together to develop future steps based upon formative discussions. Do not have improved practice in one classroom, or indeed one lesson, as a single end goal to professional development. Have the teacher recognise this process as something that can have an impact upon the wider school community. Develop coaches and CPD leaders as well as better teachers. Plan long term goals together.

Step 3: Follow up on improvements

“…create a rhythm for CPDL, regular school meeting times such as departmental and phase meetings are used as opportunities for following up and tracking learning from CPD sessions.”

The “not another initiative” staff will be provided with ammunition if professional development conversations are one off and never followed up. No matter what fiddly bits of school life must be done, make sure that time is planned in advance to review learning progress. Teaching and Learning is the core business of any school. Keep it at the core. Deep learning does not happen in one off lesson observations and feedback. Continuous professional collaboration can result in a deeper understanding of specific learning targets but not if it is at the bottom of the “to do” list.

Cross-posted from The Learning Geek

Overcoming technological fear
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“The lizard brain, is a physical part of your brain, the pre-historic lump near the brain stem that is responsible for fear and rage and reproductive drive.” – Seth Godin

WBWKY1FQ2IThat pre-historic unwanted lump is what throws our brain into panic mode when faced with a new challenge or something that we don’t yet understand.  We’re all guilty of it, “Ah, I don’t get this, so freak out!”, and that is the precise moment our brain shuts down and we escape to the dark recesses of our grey matter.

This is a frequent scenario when presented with the gauntlet of embedding technology into our teaching practice.  “But I don’t want to try something new all of the time!” I hear you say, and I would agree!  We must be selective, but when someone else has pioneered how to weave technology into the fabric of learning, overcome the challenges and found solutions, we all benefit!  Therefore, the idea of embedding technology into aspects of our teaching practice becomes less daunting and more attractive, especially when it enhances our teaching practice and advances our learners.

My latest guest on the Inspiration 4 Teachers Podcast Show has won awards for his innovative approach to using technology to enhance his students’ learning and the quality of his teaching.  Scott Hayden, Specialist Practitioner of Social Media and Educational Technology at Basingstoke College, UK, has forged differentiated approaches to evidence submission, shaped schemes of work and assignments around the social media platforms that his learners engage with, and has developed collaborative narrative across curriculum hubs using Twitter.

Episode take-aways:

  • Ideas for embedding technology into your teaching practice
  • The best technology, apps and programmes to use to engage learners
  • Enhancing your professional teaching practice, where to find support and ideas

What next?

If you enjoyed this article, please pay the knowledge forward and share with your community!

 

Visible Learning in Midlothian

What is Visible Learning?

John Hattie has spent 15 years researching what really makes a difference in learning. His research has used over 800 meta-analyses, over 50,000 studies and information about the learning of more than 240 million pupils. The findings from this research are summarised in his book Visible Learning: A synthesis of over 800 meta-analyses relating to achievement (2009).  John Hattie continues to add to his evidence base; every time research is published he incorporates it into his analysis.

Hattie examined six factors and assessed their respective contributions to achievement: the child; the home; the school; the teacher; the curriculum and the approaches to teaching. Teachers have the single largest effect size – “what teachers do matters” (Hattie, 2009).  The things that teachers do that makes the biggest difference are about making learning visible and explicit to pupils.  The key message from Hattie’s research is that ‘when teachers see learning through the eyes of the student and students see themselves as their own teachers we gain the biggest effects’.  Hattie’s second book Visible Learning for Teachers: Maximising impact on learning (2011) is written for teachers and explains how to apply the principles of visible learning in the classroom.  He summarises the most successful interventions and provides a step by step guide to implementing visible learning, visible teaching in the classroom.

Hattie uses effect size to create a continuum of influences on learning.  This allows us to see which factors have the greatest impact on learning. The most up to date list of influences contains 150 factors.  We know that most of what we do in the classroom has a positive effect on learning but using effect size allows us to identify to what extent this improves learning.  A typical effect size, the average progress we can expect in a year, is 0.40 – this has remained constant despite new research being added. Hattie argues that if this is the average progress we can expect in a year then we need to raise the bar and seek greater impact. We can use this evidence to reflect on existing practice and inform developments – are we using our time and resources in the right way? It’s the start of a conversation about learning and impact not the end. If we think about just implementing the top 10 things on the list then we miss the message about knowing your impact and being evaluative.

If we want to make best use of Hattie’s research we need to evaluate where we are now and identify what we can do to improve this, using his evidence base to guide us.  Each of the influences listed needs to be understood in context and in his books Hattie explains what each of these need to look like in order to achieve the highest effect.  If we take homework as an example; the average effect size is 0.29, the effect size of homework in primary schools is 0.01 and 0.59 in secondary schools.  This does not mean we should stop homework in primary schools but perhaps leads us to think about what makes it effective (i.e. short, consolidates learning and is marked) and what we can change to improve the impact it has in our context.

Hattie’s research raises many questions for us to consider, including

  • Are we focussing on the right things?
  • What is already working?
  • To what extent does data / evidence drive improvement?
  • What is the quality of the feedback our pupils receive?
  • Do we ensure that our pupils have high expectations?
  • Do all teachers evaluate the impact of their teaching? If so, how?

Visible Learning in Midlothian

In May 2014 a conversation about Visible Learning started with Education leaders across Midlothian. Many had read some of John Hattie’s books, had seen the list of effects but had got a bit stuck with how to use this – the challenge was in translating this into practice. Having attended the Visible Learning Foundation Day I was able to introduce leaders to the Visible Learning approach. The approach consists of 5 strands – Visible Learners (or Assessment Capable Learners), Effective Feedback, Know Thy Impact, Inspired and Passionate Teachers and the Visible Learning School. The 5 strands offer the ‘how’ and immediately made sense to school leaders who could see how the evidence and research then translates into leadership, school improvement, career long professional learning and learning and teaching. The image below highlights some key messages about the Visible Learning approach;

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The Educational Psychology Service (EPS) is driving the delivery of Visible Learning in Midlothian and this reflects our aim of supporting the learning of all children and young people and future proofing the service. This approach has enabled us to make best use of our knowledge of how children learn, how organisations and systems work and our understanding of change. We have had a key role in supporting the process of self-evaluation and translating knowledge into action.

During this academic session (2014-15) we have had a number of strands of activity which have worked together to build our capacity to deliver Visible Learning:

  • The core NQT programme has had Hattie’s research at the heart of it.  The focus was the translation of knowledge into action and evaluating the impact of their teaching. This has been positively evaluated by NQTs, Head Teachers and supporters as having an impact on the practice of NQTs and therefore learners.
  • In October we held a leadership conference at which Craig Parkinson (Lead Consultant, Visible Learning, Osiris), Craig Biddick (Tobermory High School) and Laura Kearney (Hodgehill Primary School, Birmingham) offered an overview of the visible learning approach and workshops in which they shared examples of the approach in action.
  • Leaders from across Midlothian engaged in a series of workshops which supported leaders to translate their learning and Hattie’s evidence base into action to have a positive impact on the outcomes for learners. There is no single way to implement visible learning therefore the focus was on helping leaders to answer the questions:
  1. ‘Where do I start?’
  2. ‘What does visible learning look like in my school?’
  3. ‘How do I know we are having a significant impact on all our learners?’

Our approach to CLPL was designed to work with the developing quality improvement framework and self-improving school systems.

  • The EPS has co-facilitated with two teachers a series of practitioner enquiry workshops with a Visible Learning theme.
  • One of the questions we needed to explore was ‘how do we engage all practitioners in Visible Learning?’ We have tapped into the skills, knowledge and experience our teachers to helps us identify the challenges and potential barriers and most importantly how we overcome these.

So what impact is this having?

Our focus this session has primarily been on raising awareness of Hattie’s research and what it means for us in Midlothian, in doing this we have build a strong foundation for delivery. There is clear evidence that the language of Visible Learning is being used when teachers talk about their classrooms. There has also been a shift in language from talking about teaching to a focus on learning and learners. The approach has also helped teachers to think more clearly about their impact and become more evaluative in their approaches. Having an authority approach to this has also had a positive effect on the culture of professional learning and dialogue – we are sharing practice more and breaking down barriers between classrooms and schools. The evidence gathering that schools are engaging in at the beginning of the process allows them to review progress and impact for example; schools are identifying a shift in the language of learning and therefore learners’ ability to talk about their learning.

What is working for Midlothian?

Reflecting on our progress this year we have identified the following features that are making a difference for us:

  • Focus on the learner and learner voice
  • Sharing practice and professional dialogue
  • Gentle pressure relentlessly applied
  • Repeating and modelling key messages
  • EPS research spotlights (making research more accessible)
  • Making connections explicit
  • There is no working group – our plans are messy and change constantly according to need and impact
  • Use of evidence to review progress and impact
  • External input mixed with internal CLPL and support
  • Leadership

These features are not unique to the Visible Learning approach but are considered to be key to achieving better outcomes for children and young people in Midlothian through a Visible Learning approach. We were lucky enough to share our work at the national Visible Learning conference in London last month and meet John Hattie himself. This really highlighted the strength of our community approach to Visible Learning, no school is working in isolation and the strength of sharing practice and professional dialogue is quite unique.   We are also unique in the role that the EPS has taken in leading Visible Learning.

What next?

We have lots of CLPL planned for next session and our main focus will be on closing the gap and ensuring that all schools have started to gather evidence to inform their Visible Learning approach. A teacher conference in August is an important feature of this. We have a solid foundation, a good understanding of the challenges we may face and how we can overcome them and a growing coalition of engaged and inspired teachers who will increase the pace of change over the coming session. Our aim is to develop, in Michael Barber’s words ‘an irreversible delivery culture’ and the EPS will continue to sustain capacity and work with others to build momentum to ensure this (Deliverology 101).

New Professional Reading Group venture

Last September I started out on a course called Developing as a Leader (DAAL). It is a pilot course being run by Scottish Borders Council, West Lothian Council and Moray House. It is exploring Teacher Leadership within schools and how we can begin to enact change within our own department and schools. The course has involved reading, discussion time at Moray House, reflecting writing and assessment.

As we are nearing the end of the course we are in the final stages of writing our learning plans and one of the priorities I gave myself was to establish a professional reading group within school. In the past 9 months I have had to read a wide variety of material – of varying shades of “accessibility”!! Some excellent and some as dry as the Sahara desert!

I took the plunge and sent out the invitational email to all staff to judge the level of interest. Within just a few minutes I already had 4 replies! Imagine my surprise!! By the time I sent the second email, with details of the first meeting date and time and the article we were going to look at I had 22 responses!! I was totally overwhelmed by the positive response and humbled by the fact that so many staff wanted to come and participate in the group with me. (we have a staff of around 56 in total)

We had our first meeting on Thursday lunchtime. Although not all the teachers who had initially replied were able to come (other commitments) about 17 came along. We read and discussed the first half of chapter 7 “Enacting Change” in Fullan and Hargreaves book “Professional Capital – Transforming Teaching in Every School, 2012″. This was a piece I had to read earlier in the year and many of the 10 steps really spoke to me. We had around 40 mins of (largely!!) focused discussion and left with some points for future action. I stressed that the group wasn’t mine – it was everyone’s and all were welcome to bring along literature or topics to look into.

I have already set the date for the second meeting and really hope that this can be the start of some small, but positive changes within the school!

A Professional Development: #Pedagooprimary
Screen Shot 2015-05-10 at 19.01.17

Yesterday I travelled some eighty or so miles to Edinburgh to take part in a professional development event for teachers, organised by teachers. Yesterday was Saturday and almost forty teachers had signed up and travelled from as far as Shetland off the north Coast of Scotland to take part. It’s worth noting that there were other similar events happening elsewhere in Scotland yesterday but perhaps the uniqueness of this one was that it was organised and attended by teachers working in schools and because it’s what they wanted to do. No-one had told us we needed to attend, we weren’t being directed by others. We were there because, we wanted to learn, we wanted to collaborate and we wanted to contribute to the learning ‘conversations’. We weren’t sponsored, there were no keynotes and nobody was trying to sell us anything. The agenda was loose and various people had volunteered to lead conversations and to share experiences and practices. No-one was being paid to be there and there were no travelling expenses being met. In short, we were there because we wanted to be.

As we arrived at the venue, the buzz and excitement built as we met up with people we either knew already, virtual friends from Twitter, or met new ones for the first time. Our master of ceremonies was Aileen Kelly who had helped put the whole event together under the Pedgoo umbrella. Pedagoo have organised many such Teachmeets in the past, but it was felt these were heavily Secondary focused and attended, so it was decided to try and promote and develop a more Primary focused event to encourage more primary teachers to get involved.

The event had been loosely organised around a series of learning ‘conversations’. Each of these lasted half an hour and was led by someone who was willing to share and discuss some element of their successful practice in school. The first series of conversations featured outdoor learning, using superheroes to develop mindsets in early years, connecting learning through technology, 1+2 primary language teaching and making sense of practitioner enquiry. The biggest frustration was not being able to sit in on all of these. I was leading the discussion on practitioner enquiry and was able to share my own thoughts and experiences, whilst hopefully helping others to make sense of, and understand this better themselves, as an approach to professional and school development. I would have so liked to have been part of the other conversations as well, especially after hearing the positive reactions of other participants who had took part in these, but will have to content myself to hearing some parts of these as they become available on the pedagoo.org website soon.

The second round of conversations featured our superheroes to develop mindsets again, developing partnerships to support ITE students and NQTs, a look at the new-look GLOW digital network for schools, and one which looked at how we could encourage children to talk more to develop their learning in the early years. Again, a rich range of learning conversations and I took part in the one looking at the development of talk with Aileen Kelly, @aileendunbar. This work had arisen out of Aileen’s work in her school and her successful study for a Masters degree at Stirling University. She was able to explain how her work was underpinned by the work of Vygotsky and Barnes, as well as others, who recognised the importance of dialogue to learning, but also how often schools can stifle this in the learners. I have been looking at the work of Rupert Wegeriff and others to promote more dialogical approaches in classrooms, and Aileen’s work linked closely to this. Aileen said perhaps we should move away from asking so many questions and instead use carefully thought about comments to stimulate talk in our learners.

The final round of conversations looked at how we could better support pupils with English as an additional language in our schools and classrooms, developing creative thinking in learners, inspiring literacy at early level, using Blogs and social media in the classroom and how we might use Twitter in the classroom and as a professional development tool. I took part in the discussion on developing creativity with Ciara Gibson @ciaracreative who teaches a P1 to P7 class. We were all blown away with the level of creativity Ciara had been able to develop in all her children and the simple techniques she had used to facilitate this. Key was often the ability to step back and observe the learning develop and not wanting to control too much by the teacher. If only we could develop this confidence in all our teachers, and headteachers? She demonstrated some wonderful creative work produced by her pupils from the use of a simple macro-lense on an iPad, bought for £5 off Amazon, to take photos and stimulate writing.

Like any well structured learning experience, we had started the whole day with an introduction to the learning ahead and shared some recent successes with everyone. We finished with an opportunity to consider one thing we would take away from the day, and to identify what our next steps might be in attending further Pedagoo events and Teachmeets, and how we might share our thoughts and experiences. For myself, I am determined to attend more events like this and to contribute whenever I can, I may even try to organise one in the Borders where I work. I took so much from the day, and hopefully contributed as well. But perhaps the most important thing was the buzz, the excitement and the positivity generated by committed and professional educationalists when they came together for a common purpose, and an agenda they were in control of. I feel we all left invigorated by the experience, with lots to think about and with practical ideas to consider for how we might develop and improve our own practice. What a great way to spend a few hours on a Saturday afternoon?

So,thank you to the Pedagoo team for coming up with the concept and the idea, and a big thank you to the main organisers, Lynne Jones @MissJ0nes, Aileen Kelly @aileendunbar, David Gilmour @dgilmour, and Robert Drummond @robertd1981.

As Arnie might say, ‘I’ll be back!’

Cross-posted from School Leadership – A Scottish Perspective

#lovelearning14 R&R Workshop 1
Ped at PL

Following a fabulous day of education and entertainment we gathered to reflect on what changes from the day we would take to our own practice.  This is a summary of our discussions…

What did you most enjoy about today’s sessions?

I’ll not lie lunch and the pipe band were big winners but we also had some positives about the learning too.  People loved that they had ideas that they could take forward to use on Monday, much better than theory only CPD as it was practical, simple tactics to improve learning. Example – R&A Splicing. Variety of ideas, looking at the wider context and the breadth of knowledge shared.

People were also pleased with the enthusiasm and sharing of ideas accross ages; this event was a real lift for people and recharged them.  The fact it was a Saturday was also a positive as it allowed delegates to be out of school without worrying about what they have left behind.

The choice and flexibility of the organisation was praised, Fearghal in particular was singled out for being so helpful.

It was also interesting to discuss comparable developments in England and Scotland.  There will be more on that to follow in a further blog.

Great to see people as passionate now as they were at the first Pedagoo events.

And of course David Cameron “My practice is not a challenge to yours.”

What have you learned from today’s sessions?

The big message was the inspiration.

“Be bold, stick to what you believe in. Don’t lose sight of your values.”

“Build your confidence.”

“Keep Learning.”

“Reaffirm best practice.”

What will you do differently on Monday as a result of today’s sessions?

More confidence and enthusiasm.

Focus on staff development.

Bringing back collaborative culture to schools.

“Don’t adopt somebody’s practice, adapt your own.”

What would you like to be doing differently a year from now as a result of today’s sessions?

More involvement in Pedagoo. (Sales Pitch…You can access it from your computer as well as following @Pedagoo on Twitter.  It’s on Facebook too.  There’s also my favourite bit #PedagooFriday on Twitter.)

Collaborative planning.

Flipped classroom.

What support could our community of educators offer to help you achieve this?

Keep sharing.

What support could you offer others as a member of this community to help them achieve what they want to do?

Offer events (a few seemed genuinely determined to get things moving in their local areas.)

Share practice/Blog.

Talk in staffrooms, spread positivity and collaborate at grassroots.

#PedagooFriday