The Easter Bunny has been, all of the chocolate eggs have been devoured and now it’s time to put on the elasticated trousers and start planning for the term ahead. A busy term too, one of exam class stress and trying not to neglect the lower years as we concentrate on grades and struggle (I find) to maintain creativity against pressure for results.
Where do I turn for inspiration and solace? Pedagoo of course!
I was delighted when Kenny Pieper asked me to type a few words to summarise a view of Pedagoo from over the border. The simplest way to do this is simply to say THANK YOU PEDAGOO! It is amazing to be welcomed into such a vibrant community of like-minded people who are willing to share everything vital from encouragement and ideas to hard-core resources. Pedagoo will help any who spend a few minutes contributing to their Twitter feed or browsing their website / blog.
As teachers, we all (or should all) enjoy reflecting on our practice. Up until a few months ago I used inset days as opportunities for this. However, this is a problematic strategy for several reasons. Firstly, inset is expensive! Really expensive! As a result you don’t often get released to do it and this means you can allow yourself to stultify and for teaching to become routine. Who has time to think like an NQT anymore when you teach almost every period, have marking coming out of every orifice and risk assessments to write to allow you to so much as breathe outside the class room! Even when you do go out, I can’t help thinking that most of the inset day money pays for the impersonal conference room and the posh nosh rather than excellent training! Secondly, the ideas given by the course leader might (if you’re lucky) be amazing but there is often very little time for reflection and discussion between the teachers themselves. This has always seemed ridiculous to me. It is in discussion that we develop our best ideas because it is only when our ideas are questioned that we can really reflect on whether or not they are any good. That’s why we like working with teenagers! They don’t accept anything at face value! This is a quality I admire in all those young people that I teach. Thirdly, going on an inset day means being away from school, leaving cover work, coming back to mountains of marking and endless emails which means, in turn, you have little time to think about implementing the strategies covered on the course your department budget forked out so much dosh for in the first place! Enter Pedagoo!
Like all things Twitter, the beauty of Pedagoo is its simplicity. It takes mere seconds to Tweet something good that has happened this week to #pedagoofriday and mere minutes to browse through the Tweets of other Tweachers who want to share something that week. Invariably there are several posts that contain stellar ideas or, at the very least, make me reflect on something I’ve done in my own classroom that week. Often these Tweets then spark short discussions and lead to more detailed sharing of ideas and resources. It’s like CPD on Speed! It would be unrealistic to think all schools are full of exclusively committed, enthusiastic teachers but the vast majority of us are we just don’t always have time in the day to bounce Tigger-like around the staff room swapping teaching tips! What Pedagoo does is give you a forum to do just that and no one there is going to find you annoying because, whilst they like you, they’ve got 98 reports to write for yesterday, 68 meetings and no time for this ‘new fangled teaching lark.’ Everyone on Pedagoo is in the same boat…they’re there because they want to share, learn and experiment; to be better teachers just a little bit at a time. Rome wasn’t built in a day but a little bit of Pedagoo each week will help you build your own empire. Goodbye expensive, disappointing CPD, hello Pedagoo…for teachers, by teachers. The way it should be!
If you want to give a summer term gift to your staff room, be a good Easter Bunny and stick up a poster that simply says #pedagoofriday and let your colleagues discover for themselves how powerful it is. Thank you Kenny and all those involved in Scotland. Those of us over the boarder find it hugely inspiring and useful. The differences in curriculum and education system are as useful to reflect on as the classroom activities and I look forward to another Pedagoo inspired term! Here’s to team Pedagoo and how about an across the border Teachmeet sometime?
Laura Sutherland is an English Teacher from North London and tweeting as @Laura_Suths.